by eila in Accessibility, Civic Action, Civil and Human Rights, Development and Zoning, East Somerville, Economy & Poverty, Environment and Open Space, Neighborhoods and Squares, Pedestrians, Public Health & Safety, Schools and Youth, Transportation Projects
Posted on September 5, 2011 at 1:42 pm
Last Modified on September 6, 2011 at 4:14 pm
In 2005, Congress passed the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act- A Legacy for Users- SAFETEA-LU, 2005. This legislation established the Federal Safe Routes to School -SRTS- program, which provides money to State-facilitated SRTS programs to improve safety on walking and bicycling routes to schools across the nation.
Through the efforts of our community’s unsung heroes, especially Alan Moore (then-chair of the Somerville Bicycle Committee), who encouraged the development of a Somerville Schools Safe Routes program by September, 2006, Somerville was one of the earliest partners in the MassRIDES Safe Routes to School program (see 2007 brochure). There are currently three Somerville schools listed as MassRIDE partners: Albert F. Argenziano Lincoln Park School, Healey Elementary School, and West Somerville Neighborhood School.
Starting a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program is an opportunity to make walking and bicycling to school safer and more accessible for children, including those with disabilities, and to increase the number of children who choose to walk and bicycle. On a broader level, SRTS programs can enhance children’s health and well-being, ease traffic congestion near the school and improve air quality and improve community members’ overall quality of life.
By 2007, the Tufts-begun, Curtatone-spun “Shape Up Somerville” team had created Safe Routes to School maps “using Geographic Information System (GIS) for each school within a half-mile distance.” The SUS program continues to list its “Walkability and Safe Routes to School” work as one of its achievements. Here’s what is written about how this component is implemented: ”parents filled out walkability checklists and with that data we held pedestrian trainings to educate policy makers about the linke between city planning and public health issues such as obesity.”
But a reality check in summer, 2009 by the Community Access Project found a much different story- and the on-the-ground, real-time truth is that “safe” is a misnomer.
These streets ain’t fit for walkin’.
above: Peeps avoid crosswalks crossing busy Somerville roads because they are not reliably safe. Here, there is no curb cut at this side of the painted crosswalk at Broadway, adjacent to E. Cross St. , in front of Kentucky Fried. (the date on the photo obscures the issue- my fault!)
The City improved the north/south crossing of busy Broadway by placing crossing islands in the center; however, the goal of this program has not yet been met, because the sidewalks and curbcuts at the pedestrian crosswalks are not even minimally up to State or Federal code standards.
above: Unsafe street conditions at Broadway at Cross street, seen from the southeast corner.
The curbcut in forefront of photo is an apex design, which doesn’t serve either of the painted crosswalks. This curbcut has an excessive run slope of 11.3% (the maximum industry standard is8.3%). The sidewalk panels on either side sport cross-slopes of: 9.3%-Broadway side in front of Joe’s Liquors-,
and a 6% cross-slope directly around the corner on Cross St. sidewalk-right at the Bus Stop “Cross St@Broadway” which feeds into these MBTA bus routes:
89, 89/93, 90, 101, 9109, 9111.
(The maximum industry standard for cross-slopes is 2%.)
We made a Google map to detail some of what we most recently surveyed, relying on the 2010 East Somerville Community Schools Safe Routes2Schools map.
Our survey is at http://g.co/maps/ptuk
Below are four photos linked to that map. These show unsafe, unusable, inaccessible conditions at the “right-now, right on-the-ground” phase, nothing in the clouds here. These locations show key pedestrian access points to three public facilities, plus after-school and day care programming: Edgerly School (8 Bonair Street, Somerville, MA 02145. Preschool, K, 1st Grade, day care), Next Wave Junior High School (8 Bonair Street, Somerville, MA 02145. Somerville’s alternative junior high school), and Full Circle High School (11 Otis Street, Somerville, MA 02145. Somerville’s alternative high school).
1. above: this crossing, at corner of Brook and Cross St., and right across from the Edgarly School at Bonair St., is detailed on the Google Map as “Brook St/Cross St. S- 7 safety violations”- http://g.co/maps/stgm
2. above: The sidewalk location shown is 5 panels from the newly reconstructed corner at Bonair and Cross Street.
The Cross Street sidewalks have continuously hazardous cross-slopes-
so, they slow down people who don’t run and jump with ease, causing sweet peeps to feel vigilant, instead.
These conditions are detailed at http://g.co/maps/s5vd.
3. above: Cross Street at Ellsworth, detailed on google map as “Cross St/Ellsworth intersection, S- no curb cut available“,
see http://g.co/maps/aj6h and http://g.co/maps/g9p8
4. above: Otis Street sidewalk, in desperate need of repair- since 2009 at least.
and also: http://flic.kr/p/ahPeVn and http://flic.kr/p/ahS2rb
Per Federal standards, the City should have evaluated and eliminated these pedestrian impediments when Cross Street was reconstructed, in 2004.
But, the ADA Coordinator’s response to these issues goes like this: “the street was only reconstructed to the gutter and the sidewalks were not touched, therefore, we are not obligated to improve those up to best standards.”
Hey, wrong. Look here: Accessible Rights of Way: A Design Guide (note Section 504 and ADA Title II standards enforceable in 2004). And please remember: the City of Somerville should be using the Dept. of Transportation 2006 Standards now, for the development of transportation networks, including pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way.)
5. above, need to Know: The 11 Otis Street ramped entrance directly left of these sidewalk conditions (still with the one-inch step at its foot)
on Otis Street is NOT the designated “accessible entrance” to this entire Edgerly School complex.
Nope, that entrance is over 500 feet away- and it’s a crappy, segregated looking thing.
Google map details are at http://g.co/maps/cj68.
The City Deciders Are On Notice
By February of 2011, the Mayor, Ald. President Gewirtz, City Solicitor Wright, DPW Commissioner Koty, ADA Coordinator Campbell, Disability Commission, and City Building Inspector had received 114 State Access Board Notices on violations of Public Safety code at 521 CMR for streets that have been newly reconstructed or repaired since 2004. The Access Board stipulated that the City of Somerville provide a plan for compliance, application for variance or proof of compliance by may 15, 2011.
The City has responded to about 34% of those Notices so far, to the best of my knowledge.
Regarding the violations shown above at the Broadway/Cross intersection, the City responds by promising that corrective work will be deferred until after “the City identifies remaining funding sources and the project is bid for completion” re: the Broadway Streetscape Improvement Project, a Federally-regulated Somerville TIP project.
And how many years in the future will that be?
Can You Hear Me Now?
Regarding the Broadway Streetscape Improvement Project, CAPS sent recommendations to MA DOT at: Somerville Broadway Streetscape Project, CAPS comments to MassDOT, March 2011.
Regarding the 2010 East Somerville Safe Routes To Schools Map, the City has been on notice for over 35 intersection safety violations, regarding freshly constructed or repaired locations along those routes, since February 7, 2011. Below is an annotated map showing locations for some of the current, State-noticed violations that I am aware of. The red citations are for State Board Notices that the City has responded to, as of June, 2011, to the best of my knowledge.
above: draft annotated map of 2010 ESCS SR2S map, with known State code violations listed.
Readers: Please do not use the above incomplete DRAFT image for re-publication, copying, pasting, linking or forwarding of any kind-
it is published exclusively for Somervillevoices.org reading.
So, Joe, are you listening? Cuz, when we directly communicated with your designated deciders, all we got wuz ignored.
“Talented, civic-minded people” are already doing our damndest best to make Somerville a Safe Place to Rock and Roll.