Greetings fellow safe street advocates! The Somerville Alliance for Safe Streets (SASS) turned 1 year old this past December. Thank you for being part of this Alliance as we continue to push for safe, equitable, and beneficial streets for everyone in Somerville. SASS is over 900 people strong, the majority of whom have signed the SASS Declaration and Call to Action. If you haven’t had a chance to sign on, please do.
We are all SASS, but the heavy lifting, like planning events like last summer’s Corridor of Death protest, is done by the SASS Steering Committee. The Steering Committee is currently comprised of 20 people who bring perspectives from neighborhoods all across Somerville, different life experiences and transportation needs, and ongoing civic involvement with the Somerville government. See our full list of members here. Above all, we are passionate about ensuring that all residents in our city feel safe when moving through Somerville.
Want to communicate with us? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to get involved in discussions about safe streets and equitable mobility? We have started a SASS listserv and we hope you’ll join. Email us and we’ll add you to the ongoing conversation. This listserv will serve as a place for the community to discuss what we see around town in regards to hazards, needs, and changes on our streets, as well as upcoming events. To learn more about safe street designs and upcoming events, you can join our Facebook group, or you can follow local residents or city employees who regularly tweet about Somerville streets (list here). We are always looking for people who can spend more time planning and implementing our various SASS projects and initiatives. For example, we’d love to have a website so if you have the skills and time, or want to get involved in other ways, please reach out to us!
So what have we been up to recently? This December, we re-engaged with MassDOT after another hit-and-run on Mystic Ave in Somerville’s Corridor of Death. MassDOT is behind schedule in fulfilling their promises to better protect vulnerable road users in this corridor, and they are not engaging the community about proposed designs. You can read our expectations for MassDOT’s response in this op–ed. We also recently submitted a letter pushing back on variance requests for ADA compliance in a nearby area. We are asking MassDOT to have a public meeting to update the community – see how to take action below.
In October, members of SASS catalyzed the formation of a coalition of residents from Somerville, Arlington, Medford, and Cambridge to advocate for traffic calming on two other high speed, state-controlled roads in our region: Alewife Brook and Mystic Valley Parkways from Mass Ave. in Cambridge to Main St. in Medford. The state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) controls these “parkways”, where there were 237 motor vehicle crashes on Alewife Brook Parkway alone between 2017 and 2020. These high speed roadways slice through several economic justice areas, separate our community from important open spaces and recreational facilities such as Dilboy Park, and endanger the lives of everyday residents who attempt to cross the “parkways.” The coalition, now called the Rt 16 Traffic Calming Coalition, is over 70 people strong (including 15 elected officials), and one of its primary goals is to reduce automobile travel lanes to one in each direction. If you’re interested in getting involved in this coalition send an email to SASS.
Other recent activities include writing a letter about parking in Boynton Yards, creating our public google calendar (subscribe), tracking public meetings to help you participate in the city’s decisions for our streets, and promoting and getting feedback on the SASS Safe Streets Guide. The Safe Streets Guide has become an important planning document for safe streets advocates in Somerville and a bound and printed copy will soon be in the hands of every member of the City Council.
What can you do?!
- Get engaged in SASS – sign the petition, subscribe to the calendar, participate in our listserv or reach out to get more involved.
- Write to MassDOT leadership asking for an update about the Corridor of Death.
- Personalize this message – “Last summer you promised the community that MassDOT took our safety seriously and would be making changes to the Corridor of Death. We want to know what those changes are and when they will happen. Please hold a public meeting to share your schedule and plans before more vulnerable road users are injured or killed.”
- Review the SASS Safe Streets Guide, think about what you would like to see on Somerville streets, and tell your City Councilors about it.
That’s all for now! We’re going to try to communicate more often. Be well, stay healthy and stay engaged!
Upcoming Opportunities for Community Participation
- The Somerville Parking Study survey is still open. Parking utilization and demand hugely impacts the options we have for our streetscapes. Survey available here.
- The City, for the first time, installed speed humps on residential streets in response to (old) traffic calming petitions. Want in? It seems like the place to start is by sending an email to the Mobility Department at email@example.com and copy your ward City Councilor and any Councilors-at-Large you may know. (City Councilor contact information.)
- The next meeting of the Rt 16 Traffic Calming Coalition is Feb 1 (we meet the first Tuesday of each month) at 7 PM and will focus on design changes of the rotary near Dilboy Park and changes to the intersection of Broadway and Alewife Brook Parkway. Email SASS to get the meeting link.
- Attend the meeting about Somerville bicycle network plan on Feb 9 (watch the City Calendar for meeting details).
- Review and comment on the Brickbottom vision draft plan.
- Review and comment on the Pearl Street Reconstruction and Safety Improvements Project.
- Celebrate the victories and thank electeds and city staff for doing the right things! Emails are great to demonstrate that the community appreciates all the efforts they’re making to keep us safe.
- We encourage everyone to attend City Council meetings with agenda items pertaining to street safety improvements whenever possible:
Thank you for your continued participation!