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Bike, pedestrian advocates to press mayor on road safety

A ghost bike at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street memorialized Anita Kurmann, a Boston surgeon killed while cycling in the Back Bay. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File/Globe Staff

Hundreds of advocates and survivors of traffic crashes will converge on Boston City Hall Thursday to press Mayor Martin J. Walsh on his plan to improve traffic safety.

Advocates from the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition, which is holding the rally, say they will urge Walsh to move swiftly to devote more money for capital projects, hire additional staff, and finalize goals outlined in a traffic safety plan released in December.

“We want everything promised, and the 2015 goals to be completed,” said Stacy Thompson, executive director at LivableStreets Alliance, one of the groups spearheading the rally.

Traffic safety has been a key concern at City Hall, pushed by advocates and the city alike. Walsh’s Vision Zero Boston plan — aiming to devote resources to eliminate fatal and serious traffic crashes by 2030 — made reducing speeds, tackling distracted drivers, and building safer streets among the key priorities.


Last year, the City Council and mayor approved a measure to lower the city’s speed limit in thickly settled areas from 30 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour. The speed limit at school zones would also be lowered.

City transportation officials said in a statement that the mayor is committed to Vision Zero’s goals and the members of the Vision Zero task force.

“A number of improvements have already been implemented, others are making their way through the community process, and more are in the planning stages,’’ transportation spokeswoman Tracey Ganiatsos said.

The mayor will dispatch Chris Osgood, the city’s chief of streets, to the rally to provide an update on “the significant progress” made by Vision Zero and to hear concerns raised at the rally, which will coincide with the 2016 Moving Together Conference, an event in downtown Boston for transportation leaders and advocates.

Recent high-profile traffic deaths have made traffic safety a focus.


Those deaths include 2-year-old Isabella Wu, who died after being struck by an ambulance outside the emergency room of Tufts Medical Center in April; 28-year-old Allison Warmuth, killed near Boston Common when a duck boat ran over her motor scooter; and 78-year-old Silvia Acosta, the victim in a hit-and-run in Roslindale in January.

At least 13 people have died in traffic crashes this year, said Brendan Kearney, spokesman for the pedestrian advocacy organization WalkBoston. Last year, there were 23 fatalities, according to data on the Vision Zero website.

Kearney said the city needs to devote more funding for improvements and hire additional staff to make them happen.

“They have a great staff right now,’’ he said. “But they don’t have the capacity to tackle all of the needs.”

The advocates say they want the mayor to pay personal attention to the issue, meet with the coalition, and “hear the pain and fear” that traffic crashes cause.

“We want to keep shining the light on this,’’ said Richard Fries, executive director at the nonprofit group MassBike.

“For far too long, accommodations for bicycles and pedestrians have been done with a ‘whenever we get around to it’ attitude. People’s lives are at risk.”

Meghan E. Irons
can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.