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13-year-old safety advocacy group goes townwide

EALS Coalition new logo, Sept. '21

UPDATED: The following statement is from the EALS Coalition, whose initials now spell out its townwide approach:.

In 2008, the East Arlington Livable Streets (EALS) Coalition was founded to organize neighborhood support for pedestrian and bike-safety improvements for the Mass. Ave. redesign.

In the past 13 years, EALS has promoted Safe Routes to School, conducted annual pedestrian/bike counts, organized the spring cleanup of the Alewife Greenway and Minuteman Path, and supported initiatives that promote transit, walking, bicycling, and livability issues in East Arlington.

The coalition is excited to announce that we have now taken our mission townwide and have renamed our organization. Hanging on to the EALS acronym, we are now Everywhere Arlington Livable Streets.

'All corners of Arlington'

With a growing list of supporters in Arlington Center and the Heights, we intend to bring our message of sustainable transportation, improved pedestrian/bike safety, and slower traffic to all corners of Arlington.

Our primary motivation to become a townwide advocacy group is the ongoing struggle to improve pedestrian/bike safety along the length of Mass. Ave. Spurred by the fatality of one bicyclist and injuries sustained by at least two others, we are committed to improvements at the Mass. Ave./Appleton Street intersection, especially.

After the May 2020 fatality, the town appointed a design review committee to seek short-term, low-cost (less than $100,000) safety improvements. Despite 1) recommendations from the committee, the engineering consultants and town planning staff, 2) MassDOT design guidelines, 3) Arlington’s own policies and plans, and 4) the strong majority of speakers at the recent public hearing—including pleas from the victim’s family and friends—the Select Board failed to approve the design option that featured bike lanes. 

We were very disappointed by the votes of board members John Hurd and Diane Mahon, who successfully pushed the nonrecommended option that incorporates only a portion of the safety improvements but nixes the well-designed bike lanes in favor of eight to 10 parking spaces. Mr. Hurd and Ms. Mahon convinced themselves that bicyclists would be safer sharing the busy roadway with cars, trucks and buses through a hazardous intersection rather than providing a dedicated and well-marked space for bicyclists.

Revisit vote, group urges

Everywhere Arlington Livable Streets will continue to promote bicycle and pedestrian safety at the Mass. Ave./Appleton intersection.

While we recognize the need to start planning the long-term/higher-cost design solution, EALS strongly recommends that the Select Board revisit the short-term design after the completion of a parking study and restore dedicated space for bicyclists through the intersection.

If you would like to help us, please email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Sept. 15, 2021: Mass. Ave./Appleton safety option 1 OK'd amid public disagreement
 

This news announcement, which includes opinion, from an Arlington group supporting its members' views was published Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. It was updated, to include a new logo and adjust the headline.

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