Somerville Seeks Feedback For City’s First Vision Zero Action Plan

The draft plan also makes equity and data-driven accountability two guiding principles of its strategies, with a promise to 'acknowledge the disproportionate burden of traffic crashes on people of color.'

The new protected bike lane on Beacon Street in Somerville, pictured on June 26, 2019.
The new protected bike lane on Beacon Street in Somerville, pictured on June 26, 2019.

The City of Somerville is hosting open houses tonight and next Wednesday, February 5th to solicit feedback on the city’s first “Vision Zero Action Plan” to eliminate crashes that result in serious injuries or fatalities.

Somerville’s Mayor and City Council formally adopted a Vision Zero policy in 2017. The action plan under consideration lays out specific programs and policies that the city will take to reduce crashes through improved street design and other programs.

The draft plan also makes equity and data-driven accountability two guiding principles of its strategies, with a promise to “acknowledge the disproportionate burden of traffic crashes on people of color, low-income households, people with limited English proficiency, and persons with disabilities or other mobility impairments” and to “focus on filling gaps in infrastructure where injuries and fatalities occur and where missing links limit transportation options, particularly in underserved communities.”

The plan’s map of high-crash areas offers a striking illustration of those principles. The majority of the city’s high-crash clusters are located in or adjacent to neighborhoods with high proportions of people of color, low-income households, or households with limited English language proficiency (labelled here as “communities of concern”):

A map of "high-crash" locations in Somerville from the city's draft Vision Zero action plan. "Communities of concern" indicate neighborhoods with high proportions of people of color, or low-income households, or households with limited English language proficiency. Courtesy of the City of Somerville.
A map of “high-crash” locations in Somerville from the city’s draft Vision Zero action plan. “Communities of concern” indicate neighborhoods with high proportions of people of color, or low-income households, or households with limited English language proficiency. Courtesy of the City of Somerville.

Specific action items included in the draft plan include:

    • Conducting “before and after data collection for all safety improvements undertaken through the Action Plan;”
    • Setting up a Vision Zero website portal where people can learn about projects and view crash data;
    • Implementing “tactical intersection safety improvements to at least five all-way stop or signalized intersections” every year;
    • Developing “a sidewalk reconstruction prioritization plan that incorporates proximity to transit routes and schools” and rehabilitating “at least two miles of sidewalk” every year;
    • Evaluating ” safety and accessibility of all bus stops and rapid transit stations” and developing “a prioritization list for improvements;”
    • Completing a Bike Network Plan and implementing “two separated bicycle infrastructure projects” identified in that plan.

Louisa Gag, Public Policy and Operations Manager for LivableStreets, served on the task force that collaborated with Somerville city staff to produce the plan.

“It’s a big long plan with a lot of action items. City staff worked really hard to vet the goals with various city departments to make sure the plan is realistic and achievable, but also ambitious,” said Gag.

The city and its Vision Zero task force have already hosted one open house for the plan. One more open house is scheduled for tonight, January 30, and the third and final open house will be held next Wednesday, February 5th.

 


Event Details: City of Somerville Vision Zero Action Plan Open Houses


Thursday, January 30th, 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Somerville Community Baptist Church, 31 College Ave, Somerville, MA (2 blocks north of the Davis Square Red Line station)

Wednesday, February 5th, 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: Somerville Public Library Auditorium, 79 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA (take MBTA bus 88 from Lechmere or Davis Square, or bus 90 from Davis or Sullivan Square)

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