City of Somerville
Massachusetts

Agenda Item
207499
Kept in Committee
May 13, 2020 6:00 PM

That the Administration respond to the requests outlined in the attached resident petition, organized by the Pedestrian and Transit Advocacy Group, to accelerate traffic calming investments and improve coordination and oversight.

Information

Department:City CouncilSponsors:City Councilor At Large Stephanie Hirsch, Ward Five City Councilor Mark Niedergang, Ward Seven City Councilor Katjana Ballantyne, Ward Three City Councilor Ben Ewen-Campen, City Councilor At Large Wilfred N. Mbah
Category:ResolutionPurposes:Resolution

Attachments

  1. 2019-02-14_TrafficCalmingPetition

Official Text

That the Administration respond to the requests outlined in the attached resident petition, organized by the Pedestrian and Transit Advocacy Group, to accelerate traffic calming investments and improve coordination and oversight.

 

Meeting History

Feb 14, 2019 7:00 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting

Councilor Hirsch requested a response from the Administration regarding the resident petition she was submitting.

RESULT:APPROVED
Feb 28, 2019 7:00 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting

Councilor Hirsch requested to waive the reading of item 17 and refer it to the Traffic and Parking Committee for follow-up. There being no opposition, the motion was approved.

RESULT:REFERRED FOR RECOMMENDATION
Apr 3, 2019 6:00 PM Video Traffic and Parking Committee Committee of the Whole

Chris Allen, one of the petitioners, presented slides on behalf of the Somerville Pedestrian/Transit Advocacy Group which has been meeting for over a year. The slide presentation is attached to these minutes. Mr. Allen stated that Somerville’s streets, already dangerous for pedestrians, are becoming even more so as more larger vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks are on the roads.

He talked about the following items to enhance pedestrian and bicyclist safety:

· Changing signal timing of lights

· Lack of police enforcement

· Cultural changes in government

· Priorities for changes (how to balance interventions)

· A permanent City-staffed pedestrian advocacy committee by June 2019

· Crosswalks

Mr. Rawson stated that the slides from tonight’s presentation are available on the City’s website. (They are also attached to these minutes.) He talked about the huge changes in street infrastructure put into effect in the past decade such as: raised traffic-calming tables back in 2007, restriping Bow Street in 2009, work completed on East Broadway in 2015. He described the Vision Zero program and said that it is rooted in good data, such as vehicle counts and crash reports. . He talked about Somerville’s Vision Zero Action Plan and when the taskforce was first formed, street team outreach and drafting a final plan for public comment. Mr. Rawson’s presentation focused on the key strategic areas of setting and enforcing safe speed limits, separate bike lanes, modernizing signal equipment, safer pedestrian crossings and the risks from large trucks and ride-hailing services.

The public hearing began at approximately 6:55 p.m.

Approximately 20 community members signed up to speak . Their comments are summarized here:

· No traffic or police enforcement in residential areas

· Need to ticket people who do not stop for pedestrians in crosswalk

· Need more crosswalks

· Make pedestrian safety a priority

· Lack of drop off areas for parents/students at some schools

· Speed limit should be 20 mph citywide

· DCR local speed limit should be 20 mph

· Racial profiling on local level

· Cycling infrastructure has come a long way

· Need to better educate drivers

· Collecting data will help to let the City know which streets need more attention

· No safe areas for children to walk

· Overlapping signals makes it hard to cross if you cannot walk quickly

· Flex posts may calm traffic, but are flattened due to traffic

Public Hearing ended at 7:38 p.m.

Following the Public Hearing, there was extensive discussion between Councilors and the Administration about policy, programs, priorities, budgets, and a range of specific problems.

Councilor Rossetti asked if there is a comprehensive plan for traffic calming that Mr. Rawson and staff are on working to present to the Council. There was a question about enforcement of traffic laws by the SPD. Chief Fallon responded that he has assigned four additional officers to the Traffic Department, and that they will be deployed on bicycles to be able to get around more quickly in congested areas. Councilor Rossetti inquired if the four officers would be sufficient for the entire City and asked that Chief Fallon reassess this matter in 6 months. Councilor Ewen-Campen was pleased with the news of the new officers and said he hoped it will be helpful with distracted drivers. There was also a discussion about racial profiling in Somerville. Chief Fallon reported that data was submitted to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and state officials found nothing wrong. Other discussions were about Mr. Rawson’s team and does he have enough staff to get the requested work done. Councilor Ballantyne referenced a previous City campaign to teach drivers about pedestrians in crosswalks, saying it had been effective and could there be a similar campaign now. Mr. Rawson discussed concurrent traffic signalization and in response to criticism by Councilor Scott said that he is working to refine the policy framework and improve the timing of the signals on Beacon Street. Councilor Scott inquired about the staffing level of the three positions for Mr. Rawson’s team and Mr. Rawson replied that they expect to have them filled this spring. Councilor White suggested establishing metrics to see what areas need the most help. Additionally, he suggested Mr. Rawson present his budget request and plan with goals during the annual budget meetings in June.

RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
May 15, 2019 6:00 PM  Traffic and Parking Committee Committee Meeting
RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
Jul 8, 2019 6:00 PM Video Traffic and Parking Committee Committee Meeting
RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
Sep 18, 2019 7:00 PM Video Traffic and Parking Committee Committee Meeting
RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
Jan 15, 2020 6:00 PM Video Traffic and Parking Committee Committee Meeting
RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
May 13, 2020 6:00 PM Video Traffic and Parking Committee Committee Meeting
draft Draft
RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE