By Dan Murphy
City officials and police met with more than 100 concerned citizens at Old South Church on March 30 to discuss ways to quell the persistent problem of speeding on Beacon Street.
The community meeting, sponsored by the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB) Public Safety Committee, came 10 days after a pedestrian was struck in hit-and-run drag-racing incident near the intersection of Beacon and Exeter streets. Beacon Street was also the site of three pedestrian deaths in two separate crashes in 2014, as well as where a bicyclist was fatally struck by a flatbed tractor-trailer truck last August.
Since the March 20 crash, a radar speed sign has been installed at 266 Beacon St., near the corner of Beacon and Exeter streets, and police have issued 85 traffic and parking citations in the Back Bay.
City officials said the next step is conducting 48-hour data collection at the intersection to analyze vehicle’s speed and volume. The Boston Transportation Department (BTD) will then present findings from the study to the community, solicit public feedback and then implement an approach deigned to solve the problem.
Although City Councilor Frank Baker filed a home-rule petition on Wednesday that would reduce speed limits in Boston’s “thickly settled” areas from 30 mph to 20 mph, and to 15 mph speed-limit in school zones, Sen. William Brownsberger said enforcing the speed limit would be an issue.
“It will never last,” Brownsberger said. “It will never be the solution.”
These new efforts to reduce speeding on Boston streets comes on the heels of “Vision Zero” – an initiative spearheaded by Mayor Martin J. Walsh that aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries citywide.
Among the program’s short-term measures, which could be implemented on Beacon Street, are signal-timing changes, pavement markings to better separate lanes and road uses; and the installation of “paint-and-flex posts,” according to BTD officials.
Vicki Smith, chair of NABB’s board of directors, views the community meeting as the beginning of a dialogue about safety for everyone on the Back Bay’s residential streets.
“This is a residential neighborhood, where parents walk children to school, where over one-third of residents walk to work, and many people live comfortably without a car,” Smith wrote in e-mail. “NABB is committed to working with our elected officials, the police, ‘Vision Zero’ and the neighborhood to come up with solutions to speeding on Beacon Street. Clearly, it is an issue that is imperative to address now.”