Our 10 Most-Read Stories of 2022
Most of our website traffic comes from readers who are located here in Massachusetts. But every now and then, thanks to the vagaries of search and social media algorithms, some stories end up reaching a much broader audience (for better and for worse).
For that reason, our ten most-read stories of 2022 weren’t necessarily the biggest transportation news stories in Massachusetts this year (those would probably be either the T’s unprecedented Orange Line shutdown or the agency’s safety management crisis), but they were the stories that managed to capture new readers’ attention beyond the borders of the Commonwealth.
Certain quarters of Twitter had a veritable meltdown over this column (and forced us to delete dozens of overtly racist and anti-Semitic comments). In spite of how nice its trains are, structural racism definitely exists in the Netherlands, a nation that just finished celebrating the birth of Jesus by parading through its famously bike-friendly streets in blackface. If acknowledging these facts makes some people freak out, perhaps the New Year is a good time for them to reflect on why they feel that way.
Everyone loves a good highway teardown story, and this one – published just a few days ago and shared widely on Facebook and Reddit – could well take over the #1 spot for most-read story of 2022 by the New Year (in which case we’ll update this list after the editor gets back from vacation).
Our reporting on a new state requirement for suburbs to allow more housing near regional rail stations grabbed attention from housing advocates all over the U.S., and got a big boost in readers when Henry Grabar glossed our article for Slate.com a week later. We owe our readers an update on how (or if) these rules are actually being implemented – stay tuned for more in 2023.
When a driver in a parked car flung open his car door and killed Stephen Conley, StreetsblogMASS reached out to Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne to ask what she planned to do to make the scene of the killing safer.
Much to her credit, Mayor Ballantyne promised “immediate” changes, and a few weeks later, she announced that her administration would adjust the design for a paving project to remove on-street parking and create protected bike lanes on another street nearby.
In May, Boston and MassDOT asked the federal government for a cool $1.2 billion to help build the Allston Multimodal Project, a massive reconfiguration of Interstate 90, Soldiers Field Road, and the Framingham/Worcester railroad line on 90 acres of land along the Charles River waterfront in Allston.
We’re still waiting on the answer from the U.S. Department of Transportation – we expect to be covering this story in 2023 and many more years to come.
The combination of a 19th-century city ordinance and the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act makes for a huge headache for sidewalk users and City of Boston bureaucrats, but it also makes a good story:
Here’s another story we’re very much looking forward to following up in 2023, as these new bike lanes get installed:
The MBTA’s proposed “bus network redesign” gave transit enthusiasts one thing to be excited about in the midst of a dismal year for the T. Still, with a severe shortage of bus drivers and flagging recruitment efforts, the new bus network – approved by the T’s Board of Directors this fall – still faces a long road ahead.
MassDOT has been willing to tear down obsolete 1960s-era highway overpasses in other projects (see Fall River, above). So why isn’t the agency taking that approach in Charlesgate Park, an Olmsted-designed gateway between the Fenway and the Charles River in the heart of Boston? Our reporting didn’t dredge up any a good answers to that question – but we’ll keep on asking.
#10: MassDOT Calls Harvard Bridge Road Diet ‘Extremely Effective,’ Says Changes Will Become Permanent This Fall
Last year, after MassDOT decided to lay out dozens of traffic cones on the Mass. Ave. Bridge to widen the bridge’s bike lanes and force cars to share a single lane of traffic in each direction, the biggest problem ended up being some vandals who threw the cones off the bridge onto the Charles River’s ice last winter. So in the last few weeks of 2022, MassDOT has been troubleshooting by replacing the cones with more permanent materials.