Bike, pedestrian advocates offer additional ways to boost traffic enforcement
In last week’s State of the City address (“Mayor calls for bolder action on transportation, housing,” Page A1, Jan. 8), Mayor Martin J. Walsh tasked the Boston Police and Transportation departments to “implement a plan to strengthen traffic enforcement” in Boston. As bicycle and pedestrian advocates on the city’s Vision Zero Task Force, we have some suggestions on what should be included in that plan.
Over the last few years, we have encouraged the city and the Police Department to hire a full-time crash data analyst to clean up motor vehicle crash report data and investigate trends, since data quality and access issues have plagued the Boston Police for years. Mayor Walsh allocated money in the fiscal 2020 budget for this position. We have learned recently that this role still has not been filled. Hiring this budgeted position should be the first step taken in any traffic enforcement plan so that data-informed decisions can thoughtfully improve traffic safety.
Another way the mayor could strengthen traffic enforcement and cut down on dangerous driving behavior is to support Senator William N. Brownsberger’s bill, An Act Relative to Automated Enforcement, a municipal opt-in bill that has 23 cosponsors and was reported favorably out of committee in November. The mayor has his own bill, but it is limited to a don’t-block-the-box, targeting clogged intersections. Home rule petitions for automated enforcement have been filed outside of Boston as well, demonstrating the growing support for this proven strategy.
Automated enforcement for running of red lights and speeding has been shown to reduce unsafe driving behavior, the number of crashes, and the severity of crash-related injuries. This approach, which is used in 29 other states, also de-emphasizes officer-initiated traffic stops that can lead to racial profiling.
We urge Mayor Walsh to include these two suggestions in the plan to strengthen traffic enforcement in Boston.
Boston Cyclists Union
Climate change has to be the number one concern
Mayor Walsh’s State of the City address focused on three areas: transportation, housing, and education. Although these are important, he mentioned in only three short sentences the area of our greatest concern: climate change.
Climate change is the major threat to our continuing existence. We only have to see what’s happening in Australia and wonder whether someday we are next. We have already had flooding in Boston.
We doom our children to future catastrophes if we treat climate change as business as usual. It is not, and we must make it our number one priority. We can certainly prevail, but not by ignoring it. There is so much that can be done and must be done.
G. Lee Humphrey