The Latest From BostonBiker.org
News, Events, Updates
The statistics show that each of us is driving less. So why do our roads feel more jammed up? Why does it take longer to get anywhere? And what can we do about it? Some politicians have begun blaming Traffic Calming and bicycle lanes for the backups; saying that Complete Streets and pedestrian bulb-outs are making roads less safe because less accessible for emergency vehicles. Is there any truth to this? More fundamentally, is car congestion a problem to be solved or a solution to a problem?
A 2013 report from US PIRG showed that the average number of miles driven by the average American has been falling for about a decade, through economic booms and busts, and was down to mid-1990s levels. Millennials, our nation’s largest-ever generational cohort, are using transit and bikes more and taking fewer and shorter car trips, resulting in a 23% drop in the average number of miles driven. The percentage of high school seniors with a driver’s license fell 12%. Walkable city life is increasingly attractive to both young people and retiring baby boomers. The rise of on-line shopping, social media, and telecommuting has meant fewer quick car trips.
Despite these trends, as every driver knows, our roads are increasingly congested – not everywhere or all the time but for increasing periods at a growing number of key intersections and road segments. Congestion radically reduces the volume of traffic passing through a road section, the through-put, thereby creating a negative feedback loop that creates more backups. It’s estimated that USA drivers spend about 14.5 million hours every day stuck in traffic. Congestion not only costs us time – in 2011 Boston drivers collectively lost about 137 million hours, or about 53 hours per commuter per year – but also fuel and therefore pollution, health, and money. Not to mention frustration and occasionally murderous road rage. Although we Bostonians believe we’ve got it worst, car congestion seems to be clogging roads like kudzu in nearly every city in the country – and, by some reports, across the globe .
It’s true that a new report has said that the first four months of 2015 has set a new record in total vehicle miles in the US – up nearly 32 billion since the previous high in 2007, pushing gas consumption as well as prices upward. Lower gasoline prices and a recovering economy (consumer spending in May, 2015 had the highest month jump in six years) are two reasons for the jump, probably augmented by the continuing lack of viable alternatives to car driving for many people. But a four-month blip is not enough to explain years of delays.
We do know some things that are contributing to the larger problem – land use patterns and population growth are the most important. The low-rise dense designs that make older urban areas walkable and transit-efficient is illegal to build in many places today due to parking requirements, anti-mixed use and other zoning requirements, etc.
We know some things that may appear to be causative but actually aren’t – making roads safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, prioritizing bus and trolley traffic, even reducing the average speed of cars.
We know some things that (counterintuitively) do not help reduce congestion – most notably building more roads or adding lanes, all of which eventually fill up as our additional drivers decide to move into the new space.
And we know some things that do improve the situation, but usually only when they are applied as a group rather than singularly – improving road use efficiency using technology (signal timing, access controls, central monitoring) and other methods (car pools, HOV lanes, car sharing, perhaps driverless cars), increasing alternative options (transit both regional and downtown, bicycling), changing land-use patterns (Smart-Growth style transit-orientated development), requiring corporate and municipal Transportation Demand Management programs (incentives to not drive alone or to not drive at all), and (most effective of all) congestion pricing of various kinds.
What is needed is the cultural and political willingness to accept this knowledge and act upon it – while also coming to grips with the reality that the continuing imbalance of potential drivers to current or any plausible future amounts of road space means that congestion is a permanent part of a car-based reality.
Tags: boston, cars, livable streets, traffic
Posted in advocacy, Commuting | No Comments »
from Livable Streets:
Happy Birthday to you
June was a big month for LivableStreets! We kicked off our 10th anniversary celebration with a Birthday Bash at Aeronaut (see photos from the party here!) and launched a new membership program.
We have a membership level for everyone. Whether you are able to contribute $5 a month (yep, just 5 bucks!) or $1000 a year, by becoming a member you aren’t simply donating to a cause, you are demonstrating your support for creating a world-class transportation system in metro Boston.
And don’t worry if you missed the Birthday Bash, we’ll be celebrating our anniversary throughout the remainder of 2015, so stay tuned for other opportunities to get involved!
Get to Watertown on September 12
Registration is live for Tour de Streets (formerly Bike4Life), our annual family-friendly ride and BBQ! Whether you are a lifelong biker, or you haven’t touched a bike in decades, Tour de Streets has a route for you.
The start and end location of the ride will take place at a beautiful green space on The Arsenal on the Charles in Watertown. The routes will be scenic and comfortable for both new and experienced riders. And if you prefer not to ride, you are welcome to join the BBQ and post-ride activities. To learn moreclick here.
We hope you’ll save the date for September 12th and join us this year as a rider or supporter of this important fundraiser for LivableStreets!
It’s time to rethink buses
After a tough winter, more and more people are recognizing how vital public transit is to moving people efficiently and effectively in and around the region.
A new report, Better Rapid Transit for Greater Boston, recognizes buses as a key piece of our transit system and highlights Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) as an option that should be considered for Greater Boston’s transportation future.
The report identifies five corridors ripe for BRT. As CityLabhighlighted, Gold Standard BRT in these corridors has the potential to dramatically cut commute times and connect communities. To read the full report click here!
LivableStreets has been exploring BRT for more than two years as a member of the Greater Boston BRT Study Group–a group made up of transportation experts, planners, and community leaders. This report is a result of the study group’s work and part of LivableStreets broader effort to prioritize transit on our streets.
To learn more and get involved in making our transit system better for everyone in metro Boston, visit our Transit Priority Page.
Carshare in Cambridge, bike lanes in Brookline and rethinking the I-90 interchange
In June LivableStreets advocates stepped up in a big way to help make Brookline, Allston and Cambridge more livable and enjoyable for everyone.
In Brookline Mark Tedrow and Rebecca Albrecht spoke up for creating a safer and better design solution for Babcock street and secured a bike lane on Newton Street.
In Cambridge several LivableStreets members showed their support for increased carshare capacity and Steve Miller and Chris Taylor helped dispel misconceptions about carshare in a letter to the editor.
In Allston dozens of community members shared their thoughts on a major project to renovate the Allston entrance and exit of the Mass Pike. LivableStreets members asked for a design that could result in 60 new acres of developable land, a new commuter rail station, a new neighborhood, and an unparalleled opportunity to improve connectivity for everyone walking, biking, driving and taking public transportation throughout the region. To learn more about this effort visit our I-90 project page.
These are just 3 of the more than 80 street project our Advocacy Committee is involved with. If you’d like to learn more about how you can get involved in the committee and make a street, intersection or neighborhood you care about more livable contact Jeff Dietrich at jeff.dietrich@livablestreets.
Connect Historic Boston Groundbreaking
Friday, July 10, 1pm
The City of Boston will be breaking ground on construction for Connect Historic Boston this Friday—come celebrate! You may remember hearing from us about this project a couple of years ago. LivableStreets was a member of the advisory committee that helped shape this initiative and we are excited to see it finally being built!
The goal of Connect Historic Boston is to make walking, biking, and taking the T to National Park Service sites and other destinations in downtown Boston easy and fun.
To learn more visit Connect Historic Boston’s page.
We hope you will join us in celebrating this important step in connecting historic Boston on Friday!
Boston Women’s Bike Ride & Bites Festival
Saturday, July 18
Join New England’s largest cycling event for women! This year the event will celebrate active, healthy living with fabulous food provided by some of the top women in Boston’s food businesses, like Jody Adams and Joanne Chang. To register and learn more click here.
Job opportunities in Cambridge and Boston
Are you looking for a job that will contribute to making our streets and community more livable? The cities of Cambridge and Boston are hiring!
Cambridge is hiring for anAssistant Director for Street Management. This new position supervises the Engineering, Operations, Street Occupancy and Planning units within Traffic, Parking, and Transportation.
And the City of Boston is hiring for two positions, Director of Communications and Community Engagement and aGreenovate Boston Program Manager.
Please share these jobs with your networks and consider applying today!
Tags: livable streets, update
Posted in advocacy, fun | No Comments »
Date: Wednesday, June 24th
This celebration won’t just be a walk down memory lane. It’s the kickoff to our next decade of creating safer streets and vibrant communities, making the Boston region a better place to live, work, and play for everyone.
- An interactive map and table activities
- A photo booth for kids (and kids at heart!)
- Complimentary snacks
- Aeronaut beer (brewed onsite!) for purchase
- Birthday cake, of course!
We’ll be scattering shoutouts and announcement throughout the evening, so swing by at anytime and feel free to stay for 3 minutes or 3 hours. Our party will wind down around 8pm, but you are welcome to stick around for the after party featuring a live band. To learn more and see the event schedule visit our event webpage.
All are welcome. We hope to see you there!
p.s. wearing orange to the party is highly encouraged!
Tags: 10 years, livable streets, Party
Posted in advocacy, fun | No Comments »
From Livable Streets:
Tags: livable streets, update
Posted in advocacy, news | No Comments »
Currently the world is drowning in snow, but this is huge news!!
From Livable Streets.
Example of a protected bike lane.
|LivableStreets co-founder Jeff Rosenblum presenting a vision for a Comm. Ave. that prioritizes walking, biking, and public transportation.
Photo BU Free Press
Tags: big deal, Bike Lanes, Comm. Ave, livable streets
Posted in advocacy, Commuting, infrastructure, news | 2 Comments »
This annual event by livable streets is awesome check it out!
Ten 7-minute presentations including:
- John Barros, Boston’s Director of Economic Development, “Lessons from the Netherlands.”
- Andrew Howard, Harvard LOEB Fellow, “Better Block.”
- Matthew George, CEO, Bridj.
- Alice Brown, Boston’s Urban Mobility Project Manager, “Questions Campaign.”
- Josh Ostroff, T4MA Director of Outreach, “Vote No” campaign.
- … and more!
Tags: 10 in 1, livable streets, street talks, streettalks
Posted in advocacy | No Comments »
Lets make sure we don’t end up with just another highway, see below
From Livable Streets:
|Imagine what could be done with this space!|
Attend a public meeting tonight, or write a comment letter.
|Current allocation of existing space.|
The trends are clear: people are relying less on private automobiles and more on public transportation, biking, and walking. This project must invest in a future that improves the quality of life in our city and provides commuters/visitors transit options, and not just throughput of cars.
|Do you want something like this? (From a Boston Society of Architects design charrette, team led by Kishore Varanasi from CBT Architects.)|
- Acres of new parkland along the Charles River called “Allston Esplanade.”
- A multi-use community path connecting Allston to Cambridge via the Grand Junction Rail Bridge crossing the Charles under the BU Bridge.
- A new ‘West Station’ transit station that provides rapid transit service (every 10 minutes) to downtown & Kendall Square.
- A deck over the highway and rail yard to cover these loud and dirty uses, protect residential quality of life and connect the existing and new neighborhoods.
- Existing roads extended to connect Comm. Ave. and Cambridge St. to reducing cut-through traffic on Harvard Ave & Linden St.
- New Mass Pike on & off ramps near Beacon Street to serve the Kenmore/ Fenway/ Longwood area to get those cars off Allston’s streets and Storrow Drive.
Cut and paste into your email
bcc: [email protected]
Dear Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett:
I am writing regarding the MassDOT’s Environmental Notification Form for the I-90 Allston Interchange Project #15278. In the 21st century, this project is not worth $260 million of taxpayer dollars if it is not going to do anything more than rehabilitate a highway. The trends are clear: we are relying less on private automobiles and more on public transportation, biking, and walking. This project must invest in a future that improves the quality of life in our city.
PERSONALIZE WITH A FEW SENTENCES HERE. What kind of future do you want to see? Which issues are most important to you and why?
I urge you to require MassDOT include the following:
While I recognize the hard work MassDOT has put into designs so far, there are a significant number of critical issues unresolved. MassDOT needs to revise the project so it does more than just move automobiles.
Tags: action alert, i-90, livable streets
Posted in advocacy | No Comments »
A great organization if you are looking for a job.
Deputy Director: LivableStreets seeks a highly motivated and experienced professional who will play a critical role in helping LivableStreets achieve its vision to provide high quality programs and have a major impact on transforming our streets in metro Boston. The Deputy Director will be instrumental in our strategic response to an ever-increasing demand for the organization’s programs, and positioning the organization for continuedsuccess. Click here for full Deputy Director job posting and how to apply.
Executive Assistant: LivableStreets seeks a detail-oriented individual with experience in an office setting to serve as Executive Assistant to the Executive Director. The Executive Assistant will work to maintain and improve LivableStreets internal systems and be instrumental in ensuring day-to-day operations run efficiently and effectively to help achieve our strategic plan. Click here for full Executive Assistant job posting and how to apply.
Tags: bike jobs, jobs, livable streets
Posted in advocacy, jobs | No Comments »