Voters Look to Next Mayor to Take on Transportation Issues

By Adrienne Todela and Taylor Walker
BU News Service

BOSTON – Boston with less traffic congestion? That’s one goal that Boston voters are looking to the next mayor to continue to tackle.

At a public forum on transportation and livable communities held on September 17 at the Boston Public Library, the mayoral candidates addressed future transportation issues for the Commonwealth.

“I think that alternative modes of transportation are our future,” said Emily Piltch, 35, a Ph.D. candidate at Tufts University who advocates for more development of infrastructure to support biking.

Sayjel Patel, 27, a graduate student at MIT, said that using alternative transportation is a way for people to lessen the cost of driving motor vehicles.

“I think that every city needs to rethink transportation,” Patel said. “Especially in light of rising fuel costs.”

During the forum all of the candidates acknowledged support for a master plan on transportation. However, some voters say the candidates haven’t been specific enough about how to address transportation issues.

“They are talking very subjectively about what their strategies are,” Patel said. “In terms of a comprehensive plan, what does that actually entail?”

Although infrastructure has been regarded as an important element of transportation, there are some who think conflicts between motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians is a bigger issue.

“I think they are looking at the wrong problem,” said Marcin Partyka, 34. “It’s the Boston attitude.”

Partyka said that it is the assertive behavior of motorists and bicyclists that causes problems. He added that bike infrastructure would only help if regulations keep both groups in check.

Jyotishka Biswas, 18, agrees and said the focus should be “two-fold.”

“Drivers behavior is half of the story and infrastructure is still definitely important,” said Biswas, a sophomore at MIT.

According to Lizzi Weyant of Transportation for Boston, a group sponsor of the forum, more than 400 people came to hear the candidates discuss the issue of transportation. The forum was sponsored by 28 groups.

Alternative Transportation Under Mayor Thomas M. Menino

  • In 2000, the Boston Bicycle Plan was launched. The city wide transportation plan envisioned a more bikeable and walkable Boston.
  • In the Fall of 2009, Menino declared that “the car is no longer king in Boston,” implementing Complete Streets. The program hoped to provide more infrastructure and regulation for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists alike.
  • Currently, the city’s bike network adds to 120 miles, and there are a total of 108 New Balance Hubway Bike Share stations around Boston, Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville.
  • On September 20, 2013 the Boston Bike Network Plan was unveiled with a goal to increase the bike network from 120 miles to 356 miles within the next 30 years.

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