Several hundred people from across the region gathered outside Boston City Hall yesterday for a Rally for Safer Streets, sponsored by LivableStreets and WalkBoston. The crowd was a mix of young and old, pedestrian and cyclist. Many had signs, including one man carrying one that read “Save lives, not parking” and Jonathan Fertig, who printed out a still of a video he took of a pick-up truck parked in a flex-post protected bike lane on Congress Street, close to City Hall. It was captioned “Demand More”.
City Council president Michelle Wu addressed the crowd.
“Thirteen people walking have been killed in Boston in 2016,” said Wendy Landman, executive director of WalkBoston. “The people who were walking in the City were doing the most ordinary thing. We should be able to expect that our streets are safe.”
“Vision Zero is incredibly important,” Boston City Council president Michelle Wu told the crowd. “This ios about more than saving that one life, it’s about opportunities for everyone. As we push for change we need to make sure we are talking about all the resiedents of Boston. Our challenge is that the opportunities in our city aree equally shared.”
Matt Lawlor, a co-founder of WalkUp Roslindale and a director of WalkBoston said that it took the City six months to do their “rapid response” after a woman in a crash in Roslindale.
“The rapid response was not rapid enough,” he said. “It was very frustrating that even somewhere where someone was killed was so slow. We are frustrated at the pace.”
Lawlor praised the City’s Neighborhood Slow Streets plan and said that the support he’d seen for the measures was overwhelming, but he again criticisized the pace and speculated they’d be done by the year 2100. Instead he challenged themn to do it city-wide in three years.
Christopher Osgood, Boston’s chief of streets acknowledged that they didn’t always do things quickly, but said that the department was learning how to do its interventions better and faster with each one it did.
Debbie Chen of the Asian CDC in Chinatown described a neighborhood of pedestrians torn by institutions and highways. She said that drivers frequently treated the neighborhood as an on-ramp and that a two-year old, Isabella Wu, was killed by a speeding driver.
“There was somethiong really really wrong with being at the funeral of a toddler,” Chen said. “Chinatown is full of fragile lives like Isabella’s.”
“We are all diminished when our streets are not safe,” Landman said. “We need the City to move from a reactive porocess to a proactive process. Making our streets safe is an obligation of the City.”
A moment of silence for those killed and injured was held.