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City-council candidates on making roads safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists

The Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition has posted answers to questions about road safety - for both at-large candidates and candidates in specific districts in the Sept. 24 preliminaries.



Us roller skaters and unicyclist. We demand justice.


Seriously. Unicyclists.


I ride on a singular wheel. Phhhhh!


to Frank Baker, who didn't even bother.


Michael Flaherty really doesn't get it, does he? He says he strongly opposes charging for residential parking permits:

"In many neighborhoods there is not enough parking and residents would be paying for a service that is therefore not available to them, making the policy inequitable."

That's the whole reason for charging! There ISN'T enough parking for everyone to park for free (nor could there be, there just isn't room.) So by charging, you reduce demand and free up spaces.


Michael "Five Cars" Flaherty. Mike to his friends.


It makes much more sense to just charge people for parking without doing any kind of audit and/or proper planning. I’m sure a small fee for a permit would cause most Boston residents to just get rid of his/ her vehicle.


Then don't make it a "small fee". Charge market rate, which for many neighborhoods would be thousands of dollars per year. End the hand outs to entitled drivers. Stop letting spoiled drivers rob taxpayers.


Drivers pay taxes too. Get real, no Boston politician would propose market rate parking for citywide residential parking. It would be considered an attack on the low to middle income residents who are already struggling to stay in Boston.


Drivers pay taxes but what they pay doesn't come near covering the cost of road maintenance, free parking everywhere, environmental damage, etc. The gas tax hasn't been raised in 25 years.

My excise tax bill is $60 a year. My car is older (8 years) and we barely use it b/c we are T commuters and take the T pretty much everywhere but I know that $60 doesn't help pay for anything. It's almost as if car owners think they should get, dare I say, a hand out?


The gas tax hasn't been raised in 25 years.

Is it 2038 already? My, how time flies. Speaking of flying, do we have flying cars yet? How much does it cost to park them?

Thanks, I already know all this info. It was a response to the “robbing of taxpayers” comment. I wouldn’t say car owners think they should get a hand out, it’s how parking has always been in Boston.

How exactly are we to maintain these valuable pieces of public space for parking needs unless we charge a market rate? Just because its always been that way doesn't justify a freebie handout.


We have a $6.5 billion dollar highway funding shortfall over the next 10 years and thats just to maintain existing infra. Motorists clearly need to pay more for the valuable public space they are dedicated.

And don't cower behind the faux concern for lower income citizens, we can tie the rates to income levels. Also lower income citizens more often ride the bus, so theres a bigger argument to replace parking with more dedicated bus lanes. This is right up there with the "progressives" attacking road diets that take out parking because of fake environmental concerns.


How exactly have these valuable pieces of land been maintained over the years? How am I “cowering behind faux concern”? “Also lower income citizens more often ride the bus” in Boston? Citations please.

Drivers pay taxes but what they pay doesn't come near covering the cost of road maintenance, free parking everywhere, environmental damage, etc.

You said "I already know all this info" so you know that we haven't raised enough funding to maintain these valuable pieces of land over the years.

You cited the impact on low to middle income citizens as a reason to not charge market rate, offering no alternatives to the current system of freebie parking permit handouts that take zero account for income levels. Doesn't seem like a genuine concern

On both topics of subsidies and citations, here is an MIT study looking at the impacts of lower income bus riders and subsidized fares.


CharlieCard usage data for the participants in the study was used to determine the percent of trips taken on different modes and compared with all users on the MBTA subway and bus system for March 2019 (Figure 4). Lowincome participants in the study relied on bus service for over 60% of their trips, while the average across the system was about 40%.


Now this is some older data from 2008-09 the used in 2017 by Central Transportation Planning Staff (CTPS) for Potential MBTA Fare Changes. You'll see a Table 9 on page 24, there is "Demographic Profiles of MBTA Riders by Mode" and notice that Minorities are at 45% for bus and trackless trolley ridership, while Low-Income numbers were at 35%, the majority for both demographic dreakdowns.

Thanks for playing!


Oh wait here is some more data!


54% of zero-vehicle households have income under $25k. Thats 30% of all households.

This isn’t a “thanks for playing” scenario. I didn’t cite the impact, I said it would be “considered” which is perception. I would bet money that no Boston politician would propose market rates for residential parking as I previously posted. “Offer alternatives”? I had/ have no intention of offering alternatives to the current system in this comment thread. You can’t stop wasting your time with the cutting and pasting. The studies compare bus ridership to other MBTA modes, not cars.

Right now “Residential permits” are only in certain neighborhoods, they are free, there is pretty much no enforcement. Look through 311 and you can see. Believing proper planning should be done before implementing a parking plan is not that same as believing car owners deserve handouts.

Sooooooooooooo if they don't have cars, how are they getting around, flying unicorns?

Oh and lower-income communities are inequitably serviced by public transit, typically only have access to bus service.


Ah now its about enforcement and planning. There is an established parking plan, its just a handout right now thats managed poorly. Lets charge market rate, adjusted for neighborhood and household incomes and start having it properly paid for.

Then you can get all the enforcement you are so concerned about! But again its faux concern, you've been pressed for what alternatives to do regarding funding and equality, tried to dodge here and there and now when the data is presented, you move the goal posts again. Cute!

No, I’m commenting as someone who has lived in Boston my whole life and knows how the City works (or doesn’t). What is the “established parking plan” we have now? The city doesn’t do well with logistical planning. I’m not dodging anything, nor am I moving goal posts, I’m being realistic. Again with your “faux concern”? I know you’re very passionate about the topic, but the city isn’t anywhere near the type of plan you’re talking about.

I just don't appreciate seeing the same BS talking points about sticking with the status quo and oh how hard it would on some to implement market rate parking schemes and ask motorists to start paying their fair share.

You pushed back against market rate parking because drivers pay taxes too, then it pivoted to your fears of impacts on low income citizens. It was stated to you that most low income residents rely on the bus and over half of households under $25k in this city don't have cars.

Every step of the way your points have been countered and you pivot to something else, thats called moving the goal posts and displays a bit of ignorance for someone that spent their whole life in Boston.

The established parking plan now is handing out freebies to cars registered here, right? Oh but government can't do anything right so why bother with charging something for this valuable piece of public land blah blah blah

The data is there, we should be ripping up parking along bus routes and charging market rate for the remaining spots, fund better enforcement and maintenance while properly managing our public assets. You wanna stick with the status quo.

As for planning, the City doesn't even know how many on-street parking spaces there are, nor do they have a comprehensive map or record of what all the regulations are for the different spaces across the city. They've only recently begun an effort to map out all the spots so they have a centralized record. That's a good first step. Step two should be measuring utilization.

Do I Spin_O? You got me. You have such great ideas, run for office.

So what exactly have you done to get us out of status quo?

"What have you done?"
"Did you grow up here?"
"Why don't you run for office?"
"Do you own a car?"

They just lack any substance like Informing yourself about transit needs, educating myself on transit data in and around Boston, advocating changes through engagement with BTD at city council hearings and emails, dialogging with my city councilor to voice these concerns as a constituent, providing public feedback on housing proposals and parking, opening 311 tickets about illegal parking in my neighborhood and elsewhere so there is additional data for the city to work with.

Oh but I haven't actually done anything, oh noes, gosh I'm totally owned.

So now that we know what you have done, what has it actually accomplished? Looking around, still seems like status quo.

But hey, least you got to talk down to everyone with an opposing view and beat others opinions into submission with data and cute sarcasm. I'm sure that feels good.

Just near my office, they reconfigured some roads from one-ways to two ways, installed new stop lines at the intersection but neglected to put in a stop sign. This went on for months before a simple 311 ticket was opened after seeing some pedestrians almost run over.

Oh but you're right, what has protesting or engaging civically every accomplished? I guess you'll just have to ask city leaders, department heads, etc if there was any impact, I'd say go for, really investigate this and pour some energy into!

Opposing views like "let me keep my free parking?" iTs jUst A DiFfEreNt oPinIoN.

It does feel good to dunk on people with facts, sad that you have to be such a snowflake about it, more sad that you think its beating anyone into submission. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

If you don’t appreciate my comments you can refrain from responding.
My initial comment was regarding proper planning for implementing parking fees for the city of Boston, you start going on about funding highways.
This is about city councilors and the city streets. I didn’t say “how hard” it would be, it’s that the city doesn’t even have that on their radar, no one is talking about market rate parking in the city but you. And I said I’m willing to bet a politician would never propose such a thing bc of the perceived adverse impacts it would have on current residents, you dish are with that? I didn’t push back against market rate parking bc car owners pay taxes too. Once again, that was a response to a comment that car owners are “robbing” tax payers (we get it, drivers do not pay enough to cover all road expenses) I’m not denying that.
Again, never said anything about “fears” re: low income residents, just how that proposal would be perceived. You posted a chart comparing different MBTA modes of transport and usage, not a comparison to MBTA vs car. Low - middle income is not $25,000 a year. People are struggling to live in the city and are living paycheck to paycheck, the city councilors are not going to add more fees unless there has been research and planning. Are you ever near any of the housing developments in the city? They have parking lots full of cars.
You really haven’t countered any of my points. I have typed a few sentences regarding a specific topic to which you’ve responded, my response is not pivoting, nor is it moving goal posts, it’s a response. “Displays a bit of ignorance”?!? Really? Ignorance is thinking the city councilors should impose new fees without any research or planning. Right now there are only a few neighborhoods with permits and the system isn’t run well or enforced properly, but you think they can just incorporate the rest of the city without issue or push back from constituents?
“Oh but the government can’t do anything right, so why bother charging....” I didn’t say the government can’t do anything right, I said it isn’t even on the table yet, that isn’t the same thing. How are the conversations going with your city councilor? Go and look at your 311’s, how many have been left open, how many addresses? The city can’t get snow removal right and that is only a few months out of the year and you honestly think they can fast track a parking permit system?
To be clear; there is not current proposal for market rate parking, I have not seen or heard any information that indicates there is a proposal in the works, this does NOT mean I believe it can’t/won’t happen in the future.

On the subject of me being the only one asking for market rate parking, plenty of threads right here on UHub of others talking about it.

On the subject on it not being on the citys radar, there have been plenty of public discussions about this but you are correct, nothing specific about market rate parking permits. And yes it will take incredible political courage/capital that perhaps doesn't exist, which is sad because it really displays the entitlement that car-culture has on our city.

On the subject of Low - middle income is not $25,000 a year, you did mention middle class at the start but I kept following up with specifics for lower income and further more when you questioned the rates of lower income bus riders, thats where you showed you ignorance as an apparent life long Boston resident. Or maybe it was an attempt at a "gotcha" question, I dunno. Regardless, tieing the parking rate to income is feasible and should be done.

On the subject of housing having parking lots full of cars.


Over the course of three years, the council determined that during the peak-demand period – overnight on weeknights in the fall, winter, and spring – only about 70 percent of parking supplied by residential developments was being used.

On the subject of fast tracking a permit system, now you are putting words in my mouth. Obviously something needs to change, obviously as you've seen I'm very data driven, so in what world do you think I would want this implemented without proper planning?

On the subject of not getting snow removal right, gee you don't think that has anything to do with the current mismanagement we have with on street parking? Or the lack of funding to really tackle this need?

On the subject of common ground, yes we both agree there are not any proposals for this in the works and nor does that mean that it can't happen in the future. I do appreciate this because data driven planned out management of our public space is where I think we are going, the debate can and should be about how we price it but the overall theme, yes we are on the same page.

Housing developments. I was referring to public housing developments. For instance Franklin Field and Mission Hill are packed, ppl use space savers all year round.

Sure they do b/c when anyone talks about making things safer for pedestrians, bikers, congestion pricing, stopping free parking, etc. car owners lose their ever loving minds. We have been car centric for 50+ years and all it has done is make things worse. It's time to think outside of the box.

Have you been on West Roxbury Chronicles 2? Pop some popcorn, sit back and read the crazy.

Oh I'm totally fine with an audit and planning. The city will want to have data to measure what effects any changes have to parking usage. Occupancy data will also help determine how much to charge for each neighborhood. If some neighborhoods have plenty of free spaces, the fee can be low. For neighborhoods which have very few free spaces, a higher fee would be needed.

Many cities around the country have each spent millions of taxpayer dollars on Vision Zero, and yet, deaths have still increased. Will it take 100% implementation and gridlock everywhere before concept failure is admitted?


Boston's committed to it, but it's just not something that happens overnight.


Boston ain't great about bike infra, but NYC is downright terrible. Follow @BrooklynSpoke for details.

...don't matter if the police don't do anything to enforce traffic laws. Drivers text, run red lights, swerve, etc, with impunity, knowing there won't be any consequences unless they hit and kill someone (and very possibly not even then).


Will it take 100% implementation and gridlock everywhere before concept failure is admitted?

We're long past this when it comes to car-culture and our own Governor wants to double down on it with more highway lanes.

But no, its the bus lanes, bike lanes and pedestrian improvements that are the problem.


car culture is leading to total gridlock and then cars will die for good. not until, but it definitely will happen. people who love their cars will proceed like lemmings into Absolute Total Gridlock.


It's correct. 10 / 10 would read again

Your reasoning is only valid if you accept the premise that nothing in the entire picture changed except the implementation of Vision Zero. Like, there couldn't possibly have been road use, or infrastructure failures, or slashed maintenance budgets, or...?


Deaths should be expected to increase. Deaths as a percentage of the total user base should go down.

Many reasons why Vision Zero hasn't worked including an increase in trips (Uber/Lyft), larger vehicles with greater impact zones, distracted driving, increased number of cyclists, a tolerance for vehicular deaths, weak punishments for vehicular killers, insufficient enforcement, incomplete implementation, lack of political will, insurance, advertising, money....

Just spent the week in Quebec and had an awesome time touring around the cities by bicycle, which have excellent bike only trails and protected bike infrastructure in the roads, even in some rural areas. Also despite plenty of traffic, none of the road rage and racing to red lights you see in Boston, with way more respect for pedestrians.

And literally as I typed that a Boston driver almost clipped a woman walking through a crosswalk.

The other things they have is that many of the restaurants take a couple parking spots outside their restaurants to have seasonal outdoor space. There is just an emphasis on people over cars and it was so strikingly different and incredibly pleasant to enjoy even for a short visit.


I've seen one of these patios in Boston: outside Fornax in Roslindale. Montreal has dozens if not 100+ of them. They actually care about people, safety, tax revenue, small businesses and the environment. Boston only cares about cars.


you were with the Mass Car and SUV coalition you would get a whole set of different answers. These questionnaires are not accurate.

Most candidates did note they drove places, but they put it in the context of being on the campaign trail.

A good politician knows how to say no without you hearing them say no.

Traffic enforcement for all people who operate a moving vehicle, this means people who drive automobiles and bicycles: #1 priority. I may be able to quickly dash out of the way of recklessly operated cars and bikes while I am legally crossing in a crosswalk, but that doesn't mean every person walking is physically able to. Stop texting while steering your vehicles, motorists and cyclists! PAY ATTENTION!

Man, if they enforced crosswalk laws for bikes, we'd have all the revenue we needed for separated bike lanes and MBTA expansion.

Last time I checked, cars was spelled c-a-r-s, not b-i-k-e-s

(Seriously, though, there'd be a hell of a lot more money if you ticketed cars for speeding, red lights, rights on red, rolling stop signs, crosswalks, bike lanes, other marked lanes, turn signals … you know, things that might actually kill someone.)

Welcome to corporate feudalism. Magoo thinks H. Ford and Monroe are giddy at the spoon. Magoo.

Your shtick was stupid on day one and it hasn't improved.


if "magoo" not in story and if "magoo" in comment then comment = rejected

Days I've gone without almost getting hit by a cyclist blowing through a red light and weaving through pedestrians in the crosswalk = 0.

That type of behavior isn't ideal, but it doesn't carry nearly the same risks to pedestrians as speeding or cell-phone use by drivers.

Hopefully our politicians understand this, or they'll waste time and money on enforcement that doesn't make us safer.

The VZ survey can help us understand which politicians are serious about traffic safety, and which politicians are governing based on anecdotes like this one.


Much more for cars. I'd be curious where you live/work. I live and work in the city and I don't have bicyclists almost hitting me everyday. Cars on the other hand...

If pedestrians are in the crosswalk, then like most intersections around here, the light was probably on a 4-way walk cycle which the cyclist saw coming up the road (or memorized since they're probably riding the same route day after day through that area).

It was safe and safer for the cyclist to maneuver through the pedestrians than wait for the green and compete with the cars for the lane. You probably aren't ever "almost" hit even if you aren't as comfortable with the bike passing you by...the cyclist should be more considerate, but isn't likely endangering your life.

Or you and other pedestrians were crossing against the signal, but want to complain about the cyclist...because that's been known to happen plenty too.

Exactly. I'm actually totally fine with bicyclists going through an all-walk signal as long as they go slow and yield to pedestrians. Especially on a street that doesn't have bike lanes, it's much less stressful to be able to get in between the platoons of traffic rather than be stuck in one. Same with jaywalking. If there's no one coming, please yes go ahead and cross. But just be smart about it and look first.

I had what I call a "street nanny" the other day at Washington and Boylston outside the Chinatown T stop. The person was crossing Boylston as I was biking up to the red light. The light changed (her walk signal ended seconds before) and as I started to bike behind her to get onto Washington she nastily said "you have a red light!" and instead of having to argue about whether a bike can go on the pedestrian signal, I actually got to say "nope, it's a green light" as I biked off.

Felt good.

Think of all the things that almost happened to you but didn't. That happens to me every day, too.