We need you to stand with us tomorrow morning.
On Wednesday, Mayor Walsh made public comments suggesting that safety on our streets is the responsibility of the most vulnerable - people walking and biking. This is contrary to the Mayor's declaration of the City's commitment to Vision Zero which is based on creating a built environment that is safe.
Yesterday, the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition formally responded to Mayor Walsh’s remarks, (see below) and we are following up with an demonstration tomorrow morning at City Hall.
Here's how you can take part:
1. Please dress in black casual/work clothes to send the message that traffic violence affects everyone
2. Join the silent vigil at 8:15am
3. Sign a petition calling for safer streets now, which the Coalition will hand deliver the petition to the Mayor’s office at 9am
4. Spread the word and share the Facebook event
Tomorrow morning is Boston’s Bike to Work celebration. We will be respectfully participating in this event, but we also want to make sure Mayor Walsh gets our message.
There will be no formal remarks. More than enough was said during the four-hour City Council Hearing last Wednesday. Tomorrow we will stand in silence for the people - including many of you - who have been impacted by traffic violence in Boston.
We hope you will stand with us.
The following is the Coalition's letter to Mayor Walsh, which was sent last night:
Dear Mayor Walsh:
When you announced the Vision Zero Action Plan in December 2015, we were proud to be your constituents. You demonstrated leadership when you stated:
“We know how to build safer streets. We know how to protect our most vulnerable road users, who are suffering disproportionately because of speeding traffic and distracted drivers. With this Action Plan, I am saying it’s time to act. It’s time to commit to eliminating fatal and serious traffic crashes from our daily experience.”
Which is why we were dismayed by your comments Wednesday afternoon on WGBH Radio.
On behalf of the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition we invite you to work with us to fully fund and implement Vision Zero in Boston. We ask that you join us on Friday morning at 8 AM for a moment of silence for victims of traffic violence on City Hall Plaza. On behalf of those victims, we also ask that you apologize for the comments you made on the air.
Our streets are in crisis.
In 2016, fifteen people died while walking on Boston’s streets; a record-breaking high for pedestrian fatalities. We are on track to see even higher numbers in 2017. Crashes overall are up. On average, at least two to three people walking are hit in a crash that results in an EMT call every day.
We need action from you and your administration, not victim-blaming. When you said on the air, “Pedestrians need to put their head up when they’re walking down the street, take your headphones off … you’ve got to understand, cars are going to hit you,” you were reiterating a narrative that doesn’t stand up to the crash data your administration collects.
Most of the people killed while walking were children or older adults. In 2016, of the 10 pedestrian victims whose ages we know, four were older than 60 and two were younger than 3 years old.
This Coalition and your constituents look to you for action.
A week ago, hundreds of people attended the City Council’s FY18 budget hearing for the Boston Transportation Department to call for increased resources to make streets safer for everyone. After the hours of questions from the council and public testimony, it’s clear from all sides - Boston is falling behind.
In your interview with WGBH, you said that the city is doing “everything we can,” but we know Boston is being eclipsed by peer cities in both resources and implementation. The City of New York spends about $20 per person on Vision Zero annually, and San Francisco spends $75 per person annually. Both cities have seen declines in overall traffic fatalities despite a troubling rise in fatal crashes nationwide. Boston is spending less than $5 per person, this is not enough.
Forty-seven neighborhood groups applied for Neighborhood Slow Streets, a signature program of Boston’s Vision Zero initiative. Your FY18 budget recommendation only provides resources to implement two to three in the coming year.
At the current rate of implementation it will take more than 20 years to respond to just the first round of applications. Safety should not be a privilege afforded to only some Boston neighborhoods.
We recognize that there are many competing budget priorities and that rapid change on our streets will cost money. This year we suggest drawing on the parking meter fund. In the long term, we are here to work with you to diversify and increase the revenue streams available for transportation, for example through increased parking revenues.
Simply put, the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition, and the thousands of people we represent, feel strongly that the 2018 transportation budget as currently proposed is insufficient to reduce the number of fatalities and serious crashes on our streets.
We hope you will take this opportunity to recommit to leading Boston as a Vision Zero city.
Vision Zero Coalition