Jamaica Plain District Councilor Matt O’Malley wants to change the image of the Boston driver and has proposed a variety of traffic calming measures to get drivers to slow down.
“I want the term ‘Boston driver’ to become synonymous with safety and civility,” said O'Malley. Instead, O'Malley said Boston drivers are synonymous with being aggressive and bad drivers.
O’Malley filed an order at the ’s weekly meeting calling for a hearing "to discuss exploring traffic calming measures that do not interfere with emergency response vehicles." The order was sent to the City Council’s Committee on City, Neighborhood Services & Veterans Affairs. O'Malley is hopeful for a public hearing in February or March.
O'Malley acknowledges that speeding and poor driving is not a new issue to Boston's neighborhoods. He said residents bring up speeding by calling him at his office, tell him at community meetings or when he's shopping for groceries. "My predecessor John Tobin did terrific work with the 'Slow Down Boston' campaign... and further illustrated the point of what speeding could lead to - literally to a fatality."
McInerney, a 17-year-old West Roxbury resident, died after a speeder struck him on the VFW Parkway.
O'Malley said the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) needs to play an important role in discussions. The DCR manages the VFW Parkway as well the Jamaicaway and Arborway.
“I believe it’s time to take a fresh look at the traffic calming measures that are available to municipalities around the country and see if some of them might work here at home,” said O'Malley.
Citing studies done in Portland, Oregon, and other major urban areas, O'Malley suggested ideas such as: Classification of streets as primary or secondary emergency response arteries; speed cushions; speed humps; median islands; speed slots; radar speed signs and increased traffic enforcement, among other options. He said cities in coordination with emergency response agencies reported being satisfied with the results of those speed calming measures being used.
For instance, speed slots are speed humps with separations along their width so that emergency vehicles can travel half in one lane and half in the other to avoid the obstructions.
He also suggested illuminated sidewalks, an idea he credited Roslindale City Councilor Rob Consalvo with proposing in the past.
O'Malley added he'd like municipalities to be able to choose speed limits, but that would require an act by the Legislature or a homerule petition.
He said his office will ask the state and Boston transporation departments, city and state police, DPW, and DCR to speak at the hearing.