Boston is ramping up efforts to curb double-parking by Uber and Lyft drivers.
After a promising pilot program in the Fenway, the city recently installed three ride-share pickup/dropoff zones in the Seaport, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement Saturday.
“A world-class city needs world-class transportation, and we’re working to find creative solutions to congestion, making transportation better for all,” Walsh said in the statement. “Transportation is crucial to ensuring our residents can get to their homes, their jobs and their schools, and my Administration will continue its mission to create the best transportation options for residents in Boston.”
Walsh focused part of his annual State of the City speech Tuesday on Boston’s transportation woes, calling on state government to either confront the public transit crisis head-on or to empower the city to raise money so local leaders can deal with it. He said in that speech that transportation, housing, and education are the city’s three core priorities.
Last year the Boston Globe Spotlight Team highlighted the impact of ride-shares and on-demand delivery services on local traffic, including the Seaport, where up to one of five trips on an average weekday afternoon is likely to be in a ride-share vehicle.
The new pickup zones are intended to reduce congestion on crowded city streets and to make streets safer for pedestrians and ride-share passengers.
“Picking up and dropping off passengers in a travel lane is an unsafe practice,” said Gregory Rooney, the city’s acting transportation commissioner in the statement. “People stepping into traffic to enter or exit a vehicle are at risk of being hit by a motor vehicle or bicycle. This practice presents a safety hazard for all people sharing the road. ”
The Fenway pilot found that many more people used the curb safely after Boylston Street parking spots on both sides of Kilmarnock Street were converted to two pickup locations, and that fewer passengers climbed into and out of their rides in a travel lane, according to a report released by the city.
Data from that research helped guide the selection of the Seaport pickup spots: 50 Northern Ave., 100 Northern Ave., and 56 Seaport Blvd., which will operate 24 hours a day. In the Fenway, the designated zones operate only from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. each day.
All five locations are available to any private passenger vehicle for up to five minutes.
The ride-share zone at 56 Seaport Blvd. will also have a geofence — a virtual boundary that will direct Uber and Lyft pickups within its borders to the designated zone — which is expected to reduce double-parking and the blockage of a nearby bus lane and bicycle path.
Yanni Tsipis, senior vice president of WS Development, which is headquartered in the Seaport, expressed gratitude to Walsh for the addition of the Seaport pickup zones.
“The new [transportation network company] zones not only directly benefit neighborhood residents, cyclists, and our many local small businesses, but also have a regional benefit by reducing roadway congestion for MBTA bus service, freight carrier service to the Conley Terminal and the Ray Flynn Marine Industrial Park, and all motorists throughout the Seaport neighborhood,” Tsipis said in the statement.