Pedestrian Killed on Tremont Highlights Urgency of Safe Streets

By Seth Daniel

A vehicle hit and killed a neighborhood man that was crossing Tremont Street Monday evening, May 29, near Upton Street – and residents are saying the area needs fixes now to prevent more car on pedestrian accidents.

At 8:33 p.m., police were called to 571 Tremont St. for a pedestrian struck in the roadway by a vehicle. The man, whose identity is still not publicly known, was transported to Boston Medical Center (BMC) by ambulance and died at the hospital.

The driver did stay at the scene and is cooperating with police. There are not yet any charges filed in the crash, but neighbors in the area said it is just another example of a dangerous situation where vehicles often go too fast and don’t notice pedestrians crossing the wide thoroughfare – which contains four lanes of traffic and two parking lanes.

“Monday’s accident resulted in a tragic loss of life,” said Jamie Fox, co-president of the Union Park Neighborhood Association (UPNA). “Unfortunately, these incidents occur all too frequently. Crosswalks are adequate on secondary roads with limited traffic. However, on busy routes like Tremont Street, we need more traffic lights at pedestrian crossings.”

Svetla Tzenova, co-president of UPNA, added that the deck is stacked again pedestrians on Tremont Street.

“Without knowing details about Monday’s accident or pointing blame at anyone, it is important that we are all reminded that human life comes first, and yet in a collision between a human and a vehicle – weighing a minimum of one metric ton – the deck is inevitably stacked against human life,” she said. “We receive complaints about insufficient parking and increasingly congested traffic in the area on a daily basis, and it is tragic that it takes a horrible accident like this one to remind us that none of those frustrations can even remotely measure up to the immense sadness of a young man’s lost life.”

She said that UPNA has talked about that stretch of Tremont Street being very dangerous. One common occurrence is that one care will stop for a pedestrian, and another car will try to go around the stopped car, not seeing the pedestrian. What often results is a near collision or an actual collision.

“An all-too-common occurrence at the intersection of Tremont and many of the side streets in the area – such as Union Park, Upton, W. Brookline, W. Canton – is a pedestrian working hard to make himself visible to traffic from between the parked cars in the parking lane,” she said. “Cars in the first travel lane would typically yield to the pedestrian, yet cars in the second travel lane would often pass at full speed assuming that the stopped/slowed traffic in the adjacent lane is due to cars waiting to turn or park. The problem is only exacerbated by frequent instances of double-parked cars and delivery vehicles along Tremont Street which further reduce pedestrian visibility to vehicles in the inner lanes.”

Mayor Martin Walsh did not immediately have a comment on the matter because there is an ongoing police investigation, but the accident in the heart of a strong pedestrian and bicycling community hit at the heart of strong calls two weeks ago for safer streets immediately.

The City has indicated that the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) has made significant progress on the Vision Zero Task Force over the last year. More progress is expected this year on areas where serious and fatal traffic accidents have occurred.

The City also pointed to new bike lanes along Mass Avenue and other areas, and lowering the default speed limit to 25 mph.

Additionally, they said new infrastructure for bicycles and pedestrian paths is being planned for Melnea Cass Boulevard and the South End is being redesigned to make it a more neighborhood friendly street and to incorporate a complete streets concept to safely and efficiently welcome all users of the roadway.

Finally, the Slow Streets program is about to be announced with two to three streets being chosen throughout the City for improvements to safety.

Meanwhile, along those lines, South End Forum Moderator Steve Fox said they plan to address the fatality at their June 6 meeting and will ask the Police Commissioner to institute a sort-of SWAT team that mobilizes to certain hot spot areas to enforce the new speed limit and other infractions.

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