Saffron Restaurants reservation Bicycles endanger pedestrians, says state transportation chief

Bicycles endanger pedestrians, says state transportation chief


As bike lanes have expanded across Massachusetts, Secretary of Transportation Monica Tibbits-Nutt said safety concerns arise along the new public roads, and not just with cars.

Fast-moving cyclists are dangerous to pedestrians, she said, and collisions can even endanger their lives.

“We have a significant number of problems with cyclists and pedestrians because we have a lot of these bike lanes where people just breeze through and then end up in a crosswalk across from a hospital or across from a senior center, and they’re in a situation where they’re so move quickly that they can actually kill someone,” Tibbits-Nutt said on Tuesday.

The transportation secretary was in Watertown on Tuesday to speak with the Charles River Chamber of Commerce, where she outlined updates to her plan for the state’s roads, trains, buses and infrastructure.

Tibbits-Nutt made it clear the Healey government is not pursuing higher tolls – after she floated the idea and sparked a contentious conversation over transport funding. Still, she says the problem of needing more income isn’t going away.

“I spend a lot of time talking about different funding mechanisms. That’s a very controversial topic to talk about,” she said, to laughter from the several dozen attendees. “But we need to talk about it. And if people think my idea is worthless, that’s fine, but we need ideas. We need all the ideas because we’ve used everything we have and the tools aren’t working.”

Massachusetts has an important new source of funding for education and transportation in the form of an income supplement for the wealthiest households, but some policymakers in the state and legislature are chasing more revenue.

The transportation secretary also discussed traffic congestion, funding for the Allston multimodal project and its importance to public transit, contract negotiations for commuter rail workers with operator Keolis, her confidence in the Cape Cod bridges finally being replaced, and, in general , her hopes for the current efforts. to modernize Massachusetts’ aging transportation infrastructure.

On bike paths, Tibbits-Nutt said the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is exploring ways to slow cyclists in areas where there are walkers.

They are considering traffic lights on cycle paths and barriers at crossings for cyclists to drive through, which will force them to reduce their speed. Tibbits-Nutt also said the department is using newly available data from a Vulnerable Road Users Act passed last year to track where accidents are happening – both between cyclists and pedestrians, and between cyclists and motor vehicles.

“We know there is a problem and we are trying to find a way to adjust this, but this is much more difficult than I think anyone intended when building these bike lanes,” she said.

The secretary also warned of an increase in distracted driving since the COVID-19 pandemic, and how motor vehicles pose a risk to both cyclists and pedestrians.

Distracted driving, plus people moving further away from where they work, could be one of the factors causing an increase in accidents and traffic congestion, she said.

May has been one of the worst months for traffic congestion in Massachusetts “in a very, very long time,” Tibbits-Nutt said.

“People don’t live anywhere near where they work,” she said. “So that’s why I talk a lot about housing. I can’t stop congestion. There are only so many tools we have, and most of them are punitive. You can charge more tolls within the Commonwealth. You can charge charging for congestion pricing, which is insanely expensive for people who drive, but that doesn’t really solve the central problem of how to get people where they need to go.

She later clarified that the government is in fact not recommending more road tolls. Tibbits-Nutt also did not repeat her rhetoric about “basically going after anyone who has money” to make transportation more affordable and effective, after her comments last month drew widespread backlash.

While she did not share any new ideas for transportation financing reform, the Secretary discussed how recently acquired funding could be transformative for a few key long-term projects.

Tibbits-Nutt praised the Allston multimodal project as an important development for regional equity.

The project — which could cost nearly $2 billion — aims to overhaul an infrastructure hub in Allston by juxtaposing Interstate 90, Soldiers Field Road, rail lines and a new ground-level pedestrian promenade. The toll road currently cuts through a narrow stretch of land between Boston University and the Charles River, dividing the area with an aging, elevated viaduct.

The plans also call for construction of a new West Station commuter rail interchange for the MBTA, which would be located on the Worcester/Framingham line between the existing Lansdowne and Boston Landing stops. Project presentations consider West Station as a three-platform, four-track stop with an intermediate stop just northwest of BU’s Agganis Arena.

Tibbits-Nutt said the station is “incredibly important” to a proposed passenger rail expansion into western Massachusetts, often referred to as West-East or East-West Rail. The Secretary called it the West-East Railroad and said it would connect the western part of Massachusetts.

The state was recently allocated $335 million for the project, which she said “no one in the country ever thought we would get for this project.”

“The project is huge, and people talk about it like, ‘Well, it’s just transforming Boston and Cambridge.’ One of the things we’ve been talking about is the West-East rail line – and it’s the West-East rail line. the East-West rail line – we’re connecting Springfield all the way in. And we can’t do that if we don’t do the Allston multimodal project,” she said “It really is Using -90, this will finally set the record straight.’

She added that the project would reconnect the Allston and Brighton neighborhoods, currently separated by the freeway, and allow people to walk to the river from that part of Boston.

Similarly, the Transportation Secretary discussed federal funding for the Cape Cod bridges.

The project has struggled to get off the ground for years as the dollars needed to replace the bridges have grown.

“They will be replaced. It’s fine. How do we pay for it? We’re still about $1 billion short, but we’ll be fine,” she said. “The point is though, and I just want to be completely honest. We have no choice but to fix them. So they will be fixed.”

The state committed $700 million in March to build the two bridges, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns and operates the Bourne and Sagamore bridges, plans to provide another $600 million, subject to approval by Congress.

Officials have previously estimated that replacing both bridges could cost more than $4.5 billion, and the March announcement of the federal-state agreement did not meet the full funding needs of the two projects.

A member of the public at the event told the secretary that she was concerned that commuter rail employees would not receive paid sick leave as contract negotiations between rail employees and the commuter rail operator have lasted several months.

“I am very concerned that our railroad workers have not been on contract for several years and have still not received health care benefits,” the audience member said. “So when we think about accidents, when we think about accidents and when we think about safety – and that is of course paramount – we should want people to go to work when they feel good.”

Tibbits-Nutt pointed out that commuter rail employees are not overseen by the state, but by Keolis – the operator that Massachusetts contracts with to operate the track. But she promised Tuesday that workers would get paid sick leave in their new contract.

“What Keolis is doing now is negotiating and they are coming very, very close to an agreement on what that should look like. But yes, they will get sick, I can guarantee you that,” she says. said.

GBH reported Monday that the union representing coach cleaners and car inspectors on the commuter rail line has reached a preliminary agreement with Keolis. The five-year contract would increase wages by 4 to 5 percent annually, add paid sick days, a $2,000 signing bonus and make Juneteenth a paid holiday, retroactive to July 2023, GBH reported.

Despite traffic accidents and congestion, new concerns about bike lanes, the MBTA undergoing a major overhaul and questions about how to pay to fix old infrastructure, Tibbits-Nutt said Tuesday she was optimistic about moving transportation accessibility, affordability and safety in the right direction.

“2024 will be a great year for transportation, but it will be tough,” she said. “The next five to ten years are going to be very tough. We have so much to do, so much will change… We will be retired by the time we are done, but it will be done for our children to enjoy. .”