Expanding Access to Transportation
When I walk through Newton’s neighborhoods, I see a city with the potential for train commuters, bikers, pedestrians, and car drivers alike to travel around the place we call home. We must work to expand transportation access so that every resident of our city can be safe and empowered to move through our city however they choose.
As we work towards a more environmentally sustainable Newton, we must acknowledge that transportation accounts for about 30% of our current carbon footprint. Together, we can modify our systems of transportation to reduce both congestion and traffic within our neighborhoods as well as the risk of climate-induced damage to our environment.
Let’s encourage the use of public transport so we can move away from the car-centric nature of our city and toward a future that is safer and more accommodating for pedestrians and bikers.
Public transit is absolutely crucial to the wellbeing of Newton and its residents. Reliable public transportation means opportunity in education, income, mobility, and opportunity – not only within Newton, but also to surrounding areas. This is what a lot of young people, especially young families, need.
I am committed to making the MBTA more accessible for Newton commuters with more frequently scheduled trains and buses, especially our commuter rail lines. In a time when proposals pressure us to cut funds and service from the MBTA, we must commit to making sure that everyone has access to reliable public transit. As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we should encourage more ridership of public transit, not less. It is also crucial that we work to ensure equitable distribution of public transportation across the city so that all residents, regardless of neighborhood, are able to move throughout Newton and and into urban hubs like Cambridge and Boston with ease and without a car.
We also need to rethink infrastructure developments that encourage more cars on the road. These include large parking lots and the widening of streets. This continued reliance on cars will only fill our city with more congestion and pollution. Instead, we must support and invest in walkable and bikeable village centers and green spaces that are pedestrian-centric and that allow people to complete everyday tasks and move through our city without a car.
2. We should configure our city’s transportation around our village centers, striving to create “15 Minute Neighborhoods.”
Especially as we depend on more outdoor community space due to COVID-19, we should use transportation, specifically the way that we lay out pedestrian, bike, and vehicle usage, to foster 15 Minute Neighborhoods. Such neighborhoods enable people to easily access their day-to-day needs within a 15 minute walk. Our village centers should provide alternative city spaces through parks and congregation areas. 15 Minute Neighborhoods also depend on the creation of diverse housing options and walkability both to and within the village centers that do not center around cars. If we want the village centers we all know and love to continue growing and serving local residents, we need to make it easier for people to access them on foot and by bicycle.
3. We must improve and expand bike and pedestrian safety within our city.
Bikers and pedestrians are commuters, not a niche of our population. Their safety must be taken seriously, especially as we encourage biking and walking as alternative forms of transportation. Many young people, especially students, rely on bikes to get around the city and to school, and deserve safe routes that are not just physically safe, but environmentally safe as well. I am supportive of the City Council’s vote to adopt Vision Zero, committing to eliminating road injuries and achieving safe and equitable movement for all. We need to build on this momentum.
I will support efforts to add protected bike lanes to our city’s roads and build wider sidewalks when possible, as well as connecting existing pathways to ensure better continuity of travel. We also must do better at clearing bike lanes and walkways in the winter so that everyone, from young residents to our senior citizens, can get outside and move throughout our city. I look forward to working collaboratively with groups like Bike Newton and Safe Routes to School (SRTS) to ensure that the steps we take are equitable, safe and occur with substantial community input.