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Fatal Pedestrian Crashes Up In Boston, According To City Report

The city of Boston says it plans to make several roadway changes this year to improve pedestrian safety, after a report released Wednesday showed fatal crashes involving pedestrians have increased.

The report from the mayor's office assesses the progress of the city's Vision Zero initiative to end traffic fatalities. It shows that last year, 15 of the 22 people killed in traffic crashes in Boston were pedestrians. In 2015, nine of the 23 people killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians.

(Source: City of Boston)
(Source: City of Boston)

Most pedestrian crashes are concentrated in certain areas such as downtown, the Back Bay and sections of Massachusetts Avenue. There are also high concentrations in the neighborhoods of Codman Square, Dudley Square and Egleston Square.

To address this the city says it plans to improve crosswalk markings, add additional speed radar signs, change traffic signals, and make other roadway changes at highly-trafficked intersections.

"Reducing speed on our roadways is something that can immediately improve the safety of our roadways," said Boston Transportation Commissioner Gina Fiandaca.

Earlier this year Boston lowered the city's default speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 25.

But some advocates say the city isn't moving fast enough to improve roadways.

"The threats to pedestrians and cyclists come from roadway design that encourages and allows speeding to occur," said Becca Wolfson, the executive director of the Boston Cyclists Union. "We really need to see more changes on our roadways to calm traffic and protect vulnerable road users like people biking and walking."

The city's Vision Zero report comes a week after a cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run crash in the Back Bay. While pedestrian crashes have increased in Boston, the city's report found there's been a decrease in fatal crashes involving cyclists over the last three years.

Wolfson says better bike infrastructure would improve the overall transportation experience in the city.

"Imagine if everyone on a bike was in a car instead, traffic would be astronomically worse," she said. "We are part of the solution, not the problem. Making it easier and more comfortable for people to get around by bike will make things better for everyone."

Wolfson said her group wants the city to commit more funds and have "more political will" to implement roadway changes more quickly — especially for cyclists.

The call for more investment in Vision Zero was also made in a report issued in December by the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition. That report said the city needed more money and staff in order to achieve its road safety goals.

Fiandaca said the Transportation Department, which presents its budget to the City Council Wednesday night, has $3 million set aside for Vision Zero along with additional funds for traffic signal improvements and pavement marking upgrades.

"Really all of the resources of the Transportation Department support Vision Zero efforts," Fiandaca said.

Wednesday's report is the city's first assessment of the Vision Zero initiative since it launched in 2015.

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Zeninjor Enwemeka Twitter Digital Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a digital reporter, covering a range of news. She also covers tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.

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