O'Malley Wants to Stop Boston From Speeding

Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury's District Councilor wants to look at innovative ways to curtail speeding in Boston's neighborhoods.

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. 

Ron Beland January 27, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Street design is the key element in controlling auto speed. Rumble strips, raised areas and pedestrian plaza, roundabouts are much more effective than simply putting up a speed limit sign stop sign or traffic light. Bicycle lanes and raised crosswalks convey a message that this road is more than an automobile convenience. Stop signs, traffic lights and speed limit signs are not needed in a well designed environment. the design message should be "people live here". Ron Beland, Roslindale
Bart Sunset January 30, 2012 at 02:47 AM
I find most of the 'traffic calming' initiatives on main roads are short sighted, only lead to more traffic tie ups and more driver frustration (aka speeding & aggressive driving). In addition, they’re usually imposed by people that don’t travel those routes on a regular basis. I don’t think anyone in this city's government understands or even knows how to spell the word 'synchronization'. Most other major cities use street light synchronization as a method of speed control without causing big tie ups. The elephant in the room that no one wants to address is the issue that pedestrians (any many bicyclists) disregard all rules that apply to them. Try driving down any main road in any part of Boston, you'll find pedestrians wandering the road, sauntering across the street at a controlled intersection with a clear DONT WALK signal like they have the right of way, they don’t. Why is it acceptable that this behavior is ok? Cars are a fact of life at the moment and streets exist because there are cars (and buses and trolleys). If you want to address traffic; drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians all need to understand their responsibilities. You cannot continually just put all the blame and restrictions on cars.
Marc near the Park January 30, 2012 at 07:33 PM
I agree with a good portion of Bart's comments. In my experience bikers can be extremely rude to pedestrians even, speeding through crosswalks causing a crowd of "right of way" with the walk sign walkers to slow down or stop to avoid getting hit. And also, pedestrians are ridiculous (more often than not I am a pedestrian, I take the the T every day) walking across green lights at random, outside of cross walks, with zero regard for a car going 30 MPH. It is always worse around Egelston too, I feel like people come out at random from in between cars there.


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