The candidates on making Boston streets safer and improving public transit

The Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition posts their answers to a questionnaire side by side.



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Wimpy Walsh lies

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Walsh is weak on most of these questions, but on the last he just flat out lies. About the Rutherford Ave Porject in Charlestown, he says "We are early in the design process." YEARS ago the city promised to proceed with the majority community plan of grounding Rutherford, not doing a tunnel, to make the area around Sullivan more pedestrian friendly and safe. However, Walsh is instead listening to Trump supporter Wynn who wants the area to be paved for his pleasure, to maximize the drivability to his casino. Now that Wimpy Walsh is in bed with Wynn, he changed the plans and wanted to start all over again, with, SURPRISE, Wynn's favored tunnel plan. Thats a flip flop Romney would be proud of.

Walsh and Tito

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Both are uninspiring and don't deserve to be mayor.

I guess I'll just vote for Tito to get some new blood in there...and then in 3 years vote against him.

Keep voting them out...

Flip flop Romney

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Hate to break it to you, Romney was better for this state than Deval,Markey and Warren combined.

What has En or Liz done for the state which they represent. Jack shit!

Also, he would have been, unequivocally a better POTUS than Obama.

Glad they asked about speed

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Glad they asked about speed/red light cameras. It's unbelievable that dangerous, law breaking drivers are allowed to get away with their criminal behavior when we have the technology to easily catch them and save lives.
Yes, the speed limit was lowered in Boston but it doesn't matter because Boston cops are not enforcing the laws. Boston area drivers are killing more and more people. Do something about it.

Cameras are a bad idea.

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Cameras, both speeding and red light varieties, have proven to be nothing but revenue generation devices, and they make intersections even more dangerous. Not to mention the issues with due process.

I drive, bike, and/or walk depending on where I'm going. I'm all for making the streets safer for everyone, but this is not the way to do it.

That said

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With the tools running red lights, speeding, and blocking the box in Boston... We'd be able to pay off the big dig debt in under a year with that revenue.

Boston does have car issues. Maybe, just maybe, the positives outweigh the negatives for this city.

You're saying you'd be OK

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You're saying you'd be OK with giving up due process and the opportunity to face your accuser? Relinquishing rights is a slippery slope. You'd be OK with a private company running the camera system for a profit? Like any other business, these companies exist for the sole purpose of making money, which means they have all the incentive to generate as many citations as possible, which means the system would be ripe for abuse at the expense of innocent motorists.

I completely agree that we have problems that need to be solved, but the positives absolutely do not outweigh the negatives. Look at the story Pete provided below for an example of how it could go horribly wrong for an innocent person.

And in an effort to make the

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And in an effort to make the streets less dangerous, he's also okay with "they make intersections even more dangerous."

"Have proven to be nothing but revenue generation devices"

But is that all red light cameras would do? Wouldn't the fear of actually being held accountable for running red lights resonate with people? Doesn't that have some tangible value to society?

You know, instead of the current status quo, which is pretty much "meh, not like BPD is going to pull me over for running a red, away I go!"

Sure would've been nice this morning near the BU Bridge, were car after after car took the l̶e̶f̶t̶ right turn, against the red light, cutting off cyclists who had the green bike light to proceed forward.

I'm sure fear of a ticket

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I'm sure fear of a ticket would resonate with some, but in the process of solving problems for one group of people, it would create new problems for others for a net benefit of zero. When I say problems, I'm not talking about justified fines for people running red lights. I'm talking about the issues I mentioned above and in the link I provided. Police need to get out to problem areas and start handing out tickets. Automatic photo enforcement isn't the answer.

MA is uniquely bad

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MA has an out of control red light running problem. Places with red light cameras that I have visited don't seem to. Enforcement would be great too, but the police can't be in all places at once. As someone who has to regularly cross the Jamaicaway at Pond street I would throw a parade if we got red light cameras in MA.

Raised crosswalk = better solution

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I'm familiar with the intersection, and I know it's bad. I would petition for a raised crosswalk there, since it's a common route for pedestrians heading to the pond and surrounding trails from Centre Street.

Cameras are not the perfect solution you might think they are.

Thats your only suggestion to this enormous issue?

Just send more police out to the problem areas? Thats just about every intersection in this city on a given day, we do not have a police force large enough to do that, let alone a police force that cares enough to actually enforce the law.

Hell even the website you've linked to has garbage alternatives for dealing with this issue. Increasing yellow light times because motorists are too impatient? Making traffic lights more visible does nothing when motorists are busy staring at their phones. Oh re-timing traffic signals so motorists face fewer red lights, sure that won't impact pedestrian signals that already secondary to car signals. Mores signage? I'm sorry, did motorists forget their driving education? Did they forget red means stop? Repainting lane markings? Like people even pay attention to them.

This is a huge safety issue that keeps getting ignored because America loves its cars. While that website seemed to have some valid arguments against red light cameras, most of the opposition sounds like "Waaahh, I don't wanna be held responsible for my dangerous driving." Meanwhile, that status quo isn't working and it puts those of us not protected by big metal boxes at risk.

Not my only suggestion.

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The ultimate solution is intelligent road design. If drivers did not feel comfortable traveling at higher speeds, they would not drive at those speeds. Raised crosswalks would be hugely beneficial to pedestrians, cycletracks would make both drivers' and cyclists' lives easier, and a reliably functional mass transit system would make everything safer and more efficient. Unfortunately, our current state of affairs is the result of poor planning in the past, and enforcement alone (camera or otherwise) isn't going to fix that. As I said, intelligent design is the long term solution. In the short term, I don't have the perfect answer. If I did then I would be in a different line of work. Trust me, I'm on your side. I hate that it's so difficult for different modes of transportation to coexist peacefully. I merely wanted to point out that the idea of camera enforcement may sound great in theory, but in reality it has many flaws.

Ok now you're speaking my language

Its too bad that didn't include many of those points, I do feel that they all can contribute to better and safer mobility for all. Its just we often seen groups that lobby for cars oppose things like road diets, bump outs, raised crossings, cycletracks.

And holy crap I agree about the public transit angle, its all just like you said, poor planning in the past. Actually ended up reading a bit more to educate myself on some of the aspects of red light cams that I hadn't been aware of, pretty eye opening.


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So far you have advocated: 1) Installing raised crosswalks , 2) installing cycletracks, 3) mass transit system that is "reliably functional" (I prefer "fully functional", thank you, but I digress).

My question is 4) How are you going to pay for it?

I understand that cameras have issues but I do not see how installing raised crosswalks and/or cycletracks are going to prevent people from running red lights at intersections.

I thought "fully" was implied, but maybe not.

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The MBTA is fully functional occasionally, but not reliably. That's what I meant.

I don't know how to fund those projects. That doesn't change the fact that they are solutions to many of our problems, and we should do our absolute best to get them implemented. Some could be incrementally phased in during routine repaving operations. Others would take more thought, planning, and yes, money.

The red light thing is tough. It really comes down to a lack driver discipline since the police can't be everywhere at once, and automated camera enforcement isn't an option. People who run red lights are selfish and, well, they're assholes. Probably not the easiest minds to change. Perhaps a review of light timing might help in some cases, like the left turn example from spin_o_rama. Give them a longer green arrow to get more cars through and reduce the temptation to run the red. Raised tables/crosswalks at intersections might help too if they slow drivers down on approach to the intersection. It will probably have to be a multi-pronged approach.

Red Light Cameras are Abused

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They aren't legal in MA anyway, so this is moot, but, Chicago shortened their yellow lights to increase revenue, and ended up making streets less safe as a result.

Kids in Maryland made a fake plate with their principal's tag number and went around town running lights.

The problems go on and on.

Left at the BU Bridge?

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I can't figure out for the life of me where cars turn left on either side of the BU Bridge...

Do you think motorized

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Do you think motorized traffic in NYC is particularly safe or polite? They have red light and speed cameras.


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However, they have auto walk signals unlike here where, at the majority of lights, the pedestrians must hit a button and hope that it is functioning in order to get a hope of seeing the walk signal.

Even I, a pro-driving resident of Boston, support the idea of automated walk signals at every traffic light. It just makes sense. We have all these means of getting around, let's get them coordinated already.

Not so fast there

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I'm guessing you do not read the Boston Globe or didn't get your paper the day this story was published. In the Downtown/Back Bay area, things are as timed and sequenced for pedestrians than they are in Fun City.

I've never had an issue with getting a walk sign when I wanted one. Then again, I do jaywalk a lot. And for the record, I am not one of those people who presses the odd working walk button (I'm looking at you, Roslindale Square) then darts across without even waiting a second.

Yeah, it causes people to

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Yeah, it causes people to slam on the brakes on a yellow and cause rear-end collisions.

Studies have been done on these things and they prove to be not only ineffective but counter-effective.

If you want red light cameras, I also have a drug war to sell you...

My underestanding was they

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My underestanding was they were unconstitutional in MA because of the inability to question your accuser in count.

More and more criminal

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More and more criminal pedestrians are jay walking all across the city. We need cameras everywhere to stop this criminal behavior. Also, the pedestrians are shooting and killing each other. How high has the murder rate gone this year over last year? We should be ripping up sidewalks and widening roads to keep these criminal pedestrians off our roads.

Sure they can

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You can't just say that...

Sure they can. They just did. Kind of like many politicians who like to bang the drum of hyperbole and fear-mongering, some like to bang the drum of illegal red-light cameras.

Walsh talks the talk

This CityLab article is about how Walsh talks the transit talk but doesn't back it up with action. One thing that's clear in the vision zero responses is that Jackson's contain much more regarding specific actions and Walsh talks more high level about programs but adds a lot of wiggle room when it comes to specific actions.

I also wonder if the form was a bit confusing to him and he didn't realize that he was supposed to indicate "yes" or "no" or if he just wanted to avoid directly committing to anything in the questionnaire.

Generic answers = staff answers

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I'm pretty sure that Tito Jackson wrote the answers to this questionnaire himself (perhaps dictating to a staffer) whereas it seems likely that Walsh's answers were generated by his staff. I have heard Tito give detailed answers like these off the top of his head while I doubt Marty can do the same. Disclosure: I am a volunteer on the Jackson campaign.

Also, as mentioned above, interesting that Walsh never answered the Yes/No part of each question. Make it so much easier for him to claim he never said he would actually DO anything.

Luv ya Tito, but...

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One of my first actions as Mayor will be a comprehensive audit of the City’s operating and capital budgets. This will be done with transparency and accountability to the residents of Boston. A comprehensive audit will allow us to understand where city funds are being poorly allocated and move forward with better distribution of resources, adopting a budget that better reflects the City’s needs and priorities. 

Umm, the city's budget is audited every year and councilors are already supposed to be doing the rest during the annual budget process. Other than a handful of development giveaways like Winthrop Square, it's about the only meaningful thing the council pulls down $110k large for.

So what you are saying is neither you nor your colleagues do your job?

That's why I'm voting for the clown.

Quick story on traffic cameras

About 10 years ago Boston City employee "Bob" received in the mail a ticket from Wilmington, DE for a red light violation from a traffic camera. Ticket has a photo with a black driver "Steve" in a vehicle with Delaware plates going through the red light (Bob is white). Bob has never been to Delaware and has a car with Massachusetts plates. Steve must get ticket in mail, gets Bob's driver's information somehow and tells the Delaware appeal/court/police system that Bob was driving the car, not Steve. I guess this works and the ticket gets transferred to Bob.

I tried to help Bob appeal this ticket and it was pretty much impossible. The police have zero control over the system, and is not one person in the entire city, county, or court system that could talk in person about the issue. After about 10 hours of phone calls and waiting for calls back, I ended up getting a hold of a nice woman who worked in the Governor's office who was a Red Sox fan and used to live in Boston. She called Bob and ended up settling the issue.

Maybe this was an extreme example, but I can't imagine how the appeal/court process would work on this. I guess if done properly, people don't run red lights, the streets are safer and the City makes money. On the other hand there will be 10-50X the amount of unpaid fines and suspended licensed drivers on the streets (knowing how irresponsible a good section of our driving population is when it comes to paying tickets and doing their proper RMV paper work)

Pete Nice, does BPD still operate the traffic enforcement car?

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I know a few years back, each BPD district had a low-profile, slick top cruiser marked "traffic enforcement." I haven't seen them in a while, especially since the Crown Vics were phased out. A friend in D-4 told me it was a four hour detail specifically for writing tickets at problem intersections and high speed roads. Some readers here may not realize that the neighborhood patrol car has little time to set up radar or traffic enforcement while answering 911 calls. Does each BPD district still have a dedicated traffic enforcement car?

Yes, some have 2.

They write about a book a day (20 citations) each unless there is a crash to investigate.

The four hour blocks they will get every once in a while (not sure how they are paid), but they don't seem to do anything since most of the offenders are from out of state/city and just don't know how to drive in the City. The Longwood medical area is a good example of that. I'd guess out of every 100 cars cited for a blocking the box violation, less than 25% are Boston area residents who drive their every day.

Thank you Pete

This is great information. Honestly. I would love more of these cars on the road especially near me in C-11. Running traffic lights is a favorite past-time (by a lot of locals) here but also makes walking and driving dangerous at rush hour times. Especially with kids. And that affects the quality of life, which is another reason why people love to head for the 'burbs once they have kids.

I'm glad to hear that resources are out there though. Especially since it's not posted anywhere online to find. Thanks again.

This has actually somewhat

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This has actually somewhat improved my view of Tito. His responses all sound passionate and excited and positive, while Walsh's all come across as heavily edited form responses that don't actually answer anything and were clearly written by a team of his staff.

I still don't really like either of them, but I think Tito might be better for Boston.

Minor sticking point being his opposition to charging for resident permits. No one likes spending more money, but they should be charging a nominal fee like Somerville does, for example. I liked Walsh's idea of charging more the more cars you have.


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I was looking at the election with no real excitement, but this totally changed my perspective. Marty seems like he can't be bothered to answer to his constituents whereas Tito seems like he's looking to solve problems. I was going to vote against Marty anyway just because of the Olympics, but this makes me feel better about it.

Easier said than done

Tito is actually a friend of mine, and although I don't really care who wins the election, if you aren't in office already, it is much easier to say you are going to do this and that. Although there isn't a lot of your standard political rhetoric in Tito's answers to this traffic issue, in general he can say whatever he wants.