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Posts tagged "Boston"

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Greater Boston’s Bus Transformation

Greater Boston’s bus system is undergoing a long overdue transformation. From redesigning the network to pursuing electrification to completely re-imagined streets primed for better bus service, the experience for thousands of daily riders in the region is looking better than it has in decades. The evolution of bus lanes and BRT elements is visible throughout the region in municipalities like Somerville, Everett, Chelsea and Boston where street are transforming to support public health and an integrated transit system as a pandemic recovery strategy as well as to combat climate change, traffic congestion and to build a better, more equitable region.

Massachusetts is emerging as a national transit champion by giving street space to the bus and looking to build BRT, even as there is more work ahead to connect gaps in the network. Leadership from elected officials, community members and other regional collaborators has turbo-charged all the bus improvement projects, showcasing what can be done in only a few years and inspiring a future that prioritizes buses and the people who rely on them.

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Boston Area Bus Pilots Move Region Closer to BRT

It was a momentous 2018 year for bus riders in greater Boston as municipalities around the region took bold steps to pilot elements of BRT in collaboration with the MBTA. Empowered by grants from the Barr Foundation, the municipally led regional effort showcased small but salient service and street design improvements that garnered public and political support for better buses and the vision of Gold Standard BRT. The demonstrated BRT elements included dedicated bus lane segments, queue jumps, transit signal priority and level platforms, and were enhanced by creative art installations and community group partnerships.

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Sustainable Transport Superheroes Swap Notes

In the midst of a record number of pilots in Massachusetts showcasing how bus service can be improved to actually provide rapid transit, two advocates fighting to bring transport justice sit down to swap wisdom about what it takes to transform transportation. Rehana Moosajee, former City Councilor and Head of the Mayoral Committee for Transport from Johannesburg, who oversaw implementation of Africa's first BRT - Rea Vaya, and Michelle Wu, a progressive sustainable transport champion on the Boston City Council, join in a conversation. This interview between two sustainable transport superheros demonstrates how city leaders can galvanize change.
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A Street is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Boston’s Newest Bus Lane

Each weekday, half a dozen bus routes carrying 19,000 riders travel the 1.2-mile stretch of Washington Street to the Forest Hill Orange Line Station. Most people on the street at rush hour are riding in buses. Until May, the bus commute was usually slow and unreliable. When Mayor Walsh and the Boston Transportation Department converted a parking lane on Washington Street into a pilot bus lane during the morning rush hour, all of that changed. Bus travel time improvements were noticeable immediately.

Mayor Walsh announced on June 7th that the Washington Street bus lane would be made permanent, with the pilot lane marked by cones to be reinstated next week.

LivableStreets is working with the City to deploy more bus lane pilots like Washington Street throughout the city. To learn more visit www.livablestreets.info

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Ride the new Connect Historic Boston bike trail

Protected bike lanes are becoming less rare in many U.S. cities and I got to ride a fine new one in the City of Boston. Called the Connect Historic Boston Bike Trail, it is the beginning segment - about two miles so far - of a longer loop that plans to circle the downtown area.

The idea was to connect historic Boston places via a safe bike route that not only commuters could use to get about, but also visitors or residents wanting to further explore the city.

The segment features a lot of good design practices. Where it intersects with driveways or parking lots the drivers are slowed by having to meet the bike lane which has been raised to the level of the sidewalk. It also features ample #freshkermit (that's green paint) in areas to highlight possible conflict areas between motorists and cyclists. Additionally, some intersections have been built with some protection.  And some environmentally friendly bits as well: permeable pavement and a bioswale.

There's one section here tha'ts center running - which, yes, always has its critics - but in this case it makes much more sense to put riders away from crowded sidewalks at North Station/TD Garden. I'd much rather ride in the freedom of the center versus contending with pedestrians and cars. Just imagine this scenario averted.

Big thanks to the good transportation folks from the City of Boston who came out to meet me after work with little notice to take a one hour excursion with Streetfilms!

StreetFilms
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The New Bus Campaigners

Half of transit trips in America are made on buses.

But over the past several years, nearly every major US city has witnessed dramatic declines in bus ridership.

Some blame may go to low gas prices and new services like Uber. But transit advocates think bus service is declining because of longstanding policy neglect, and that something can and ought to be done about it. They’re pushing elected officials and transit agencies to apply changes like bus lanes, all-door boarding and traffic signal priority.

These kinds of policy changes require political attention and will, which will only be obtained through a groundswell of public support. To give voice to bus riders, a new generation of bus campaigners are now canvassing buses, bus stops, and transit hubs to hear from and organize riders. We were able to spend some time with organizations in New York City (Riders Alliance), Boston (LivableStreets) and Chicago (Active Transportation Alliance) to find out what is new there and how they are encouraging volunteers and city leaders to make improvements to their systems.

Buses are a relatively inexpensive and flexible form of transit that American cities could be making much better use of. Thanks to many new advocacy campaigns, we think we’ll see buses turning around.

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Transform Your City With Tactical Urbanism

Tired of waiting for local governments to fix dangerous conditions, in many cities everyday citizens are practicing DIY traffic-calming to make streets safer for walking and biking. Some are forming “Departments of Transformation” to show others how to implement low-cost interventions, like traffic cones, to slow drivers down.

Often these installations are quickly removed by local DOTs, but in other cases, cities are embracing what’s come to be known as “tactical urbanism.” Some cities are making citizen-generated improvements permanent, while others are encouraging the movement by sanctioning, and even sponsoring, tactical urbanism projects.

Watch as we check in with people who are making this happen around the world!

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Checking out Silver Line Demo in Boston and more!

For the second year in a row, Streetfilms is working closely with TransitCenter to produce a series of videos about how people are organizing, planning, and winning better transit in American cities.

As such, I was recently in Boston talking to the Livable Streets Alliance about what they and their many local partners are doing to help speed up bus service. I happened to be in town during the two-week Silver Line Demo, a trial period during which riders can board the bus at all three doors, not just at the front.

As you can see, it was a rather dramatic change:

When I travel, I usually notice a heck of a lot more than what I am on assignment to document. So I grab what I can. While waiting for a meeting on this trip, I found myself wandering around Boston's car-free Downtown Crossing during lunch hour. It's always been a comfortable public space, and it keeps getting better.

Here's a short montage of people out in the middle of the day:

While in Cambridge getting some footage of buses, I came across what I'm calling a "sidewalk-assist" Copenhagen left turn. It's not the first one I've seen by any stretch, but I had enough time to get good footage showing it in action. The intersection is very difficult for cyclists, and it's great to have this option if you feel you need it:

The entire intersection is complicated, with lots of people walking and biking to a major transit station nearby. There are L-O-N-G wait times for a green light, no matter how you're getting around. If I had transportation superpowers, I would make one of the connecting streets car-free to create a more regular intersection and get a new pedestrian plaza in the bargain.

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A Case for Open Data in Transit

Ever find yourself waiting for the next bus, not knowing when it will arrive? Think it would be great if you could check a subway countdown clock from the sidewalk? Or get arrival times on your phone? Giving transit riders better information can make riding the bus or the train more convenient and appealing. And transit agencies are finding that the easiest and least expensive way to do it is by opening data about routes, schedules, and real-time locations to software developers, instead of guarding it like a proprietary secret.

I recently got the chance to dive into the topic of open data in transit with my colleagues at OpenPlans. We went up to Boston to see what transit riders got out of the transportation department's decision to open up its data. We also talked to New York MTA Chair Jay Walder, City Council Member Gale Brewer, Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase, and Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White to paint a full picture of what it would mean if cities shared their transit and transportation data. The information is there, waiting to be put to use to help people plan transit trips, waste less gas driving, or make their streets safer.

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NACTO’s “Cities for Cycling”

"Cities for Cycling" is a project of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) to document, promote and implement the world’s best bicycle transportation practices in U.S. cities.

In this Streetfilm you'll see how a typical visit can inspire, enlighten and energize city leaders & advocates.  During bike month, experts from the transportation departments of NYC (Jon Orcutt), Portland (Roger Geller) and San Francisco (Timothy Papandreou) came to Boston to talk about bike infrastructure in their cities and how they accomplished innovative change to their streetscapes.  Thru public presentations, private meetings with city officials, and bike ride audits, the "Cities for Cycling" road show is poised to be an informative, powerful tool for governments.

In addition, NACTO is in the process of developing a dynamic on-line Urban Bikeway Design Guide which will showcase the engineering techniques being deployed by NACTO members to make bicycling safer, more comfortable and more convenient. This guide is due to be released later this year, but they already are hosting many useful resources for bike planners.

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Boston Rising: Boston Bikes’ Nicole Freedman

The Boston metro area has always had plenty of cyclists.  But other than some fantastic greenways like the Minuteman Trail, riding along the Charles, and some ahead-of-its-time traffic calming & bike lanes in Cambridge, cyclists have had very little to crow about.  In fact, it wasn't uncommon to hear murmurs that Boston was the worst cycling city in the U.S.

But that's all slowly changing. Boston's Mayor Thomas Menino hired Nicole Freedman - a former U.S. National Champion and 2000 Olympian - as his "bike czar" to head up Boston Bikes in late 2007. Though there is still quite a ways to go, Boston is rising from decades of bike rust and planning to make its city more bike-friendly. Recently, the Mayor told a gathering of cyclists at Boston's first "Bicycling Safety Summit" in April, "The car is no longer king in Boston."

While Streetfilms was in town with NACTO (National Association of City Transportation Officials) we got to spend a few minutes with Nicole in between her busy schedule to file this report.

StreetFilms
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Enrique Peñalosa Brings Inspiration to Boston

Streetfilms' Robin Urban Smith hopped a bus to Boston to hear world renowned urban strategist and champion of the livable streets movement, Enrique Peñalosa speak at the Boston Public Library. According to our friends at the LivableStreets Alliance, who organized his four day visit, more than 1,000 Bostonians attended the various events planned in his name.

Aptly nicknamed the "The Hub," or "The Walking City," Boston boasts the oldest subway system in North America and has the highest light rail ridership of any U.S. city.

Check out these other great Streetfilms for more on Enrique Peñalosa: Interview with Peñalosa, Bus Rapid Transit: Bogota, Physically Separated Bike Lanes, Enrique Penalosa talks with COMMUTErs, Ciclovia.