Can’t we all just get along?
Middle East peace seems as far off as ever. Partisan battle lines nationally have become even more stark since last November’s election, if that’s possible.
But here in the Hub of the Universe a fault line has formed that suddenly seems to be even more difficult to bridge. We speak of the road war that has been declared involving automobile drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
As cycling becomes a bigger part of city life, and as Boston promotes itself as one of the country’s most walkable cities, it has put a spotlight on the dangers bicyclists and pedestrians face from the city’s notoriously edgy drivers.
The conflict, which had been simmering on low boil, seemed to turn into all-out brawl when Mayor Marty Walsh last week urged pedestrians and cyclists to be more mindful of the road.
Walsh may have been a little inartful in his delivery, but some read much more into the comments, with bike advocates charging that the mayor was “clueless” and engaged in “victim blaming.”
Globe columnist Dante Ramos said Walsh “seemed to accept the myth of the beleaguered Boston driver who’s at the mercy of unpredictable bikers and walkers.” Ramos said when cars collide with bikes in the Netherlands and other countries, it’s presumed that “the person driving the two- or three-ton metal box is responsible.”
Ramos is arguing for a change in the entire frame of reference of the debate in a way that moves beyond the idea that the needs of cars should always be the, well, driving force in shaping urban transportation policy and practice. Or, as the late Tom Menino famously declared, we need to accept that “the cah is no longer king in Boston.”
Cyclist fatalities continue to pile up, even as the city pushes its Vision Zero goal of eliminating all deaths connected to motor vehicles by 2030. Herald columnist Jaclyn Cashman pushes back on the idea that the streets have become more dangerous for bicyclists, citing figures showing the number of accidents involving bikes is actually down considerably in recent years.
Globe reporter Dugan Arnett has a first-person account today of the difficulty of getting cited for jaywalking in Boston. But that lack of enforcement is not actually the problem, Ramos wrote more than a year ago when a state lawmaker proposed upping the fines for jaywalking.
Tom Keane wrote last week that Walsh was right to call out irresponsible cyclists and pedestrians. Joan Vennochi also says the mayor was on point. “If motorists don’t own the roads — neither do you,” she writes to the city’s generic “cyclist dudes.” She recounts her own experiencing motoring through the Back Bay earlier this week with bicyclists wearing ear buds or gripping cellphones, seemingly oblivious to what was going on around them.
But she also scolds Walsh for apparently snubbing those who are working hard to make the city work for all modes of mobility. There are plenty of bike and pedestrian advocates who are “capable of dialogue, not diatribe,” she says, and the mayor ought to meet with them and listen hard to their concerns.
The House passed one response-to-President Trump measure and backed off another, at least for now. The measure that passed, largely along party lines, would prevent Massachusetts prisoners from being used as labor projects outside of the state, a rebuke to a plan by Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson to offer inmates to help build Trump’s proposed border wall. (State House News Service)
Sen. Jason Lewis, Rep. Paul McMurtry, and Lynn Nicholas of the Massachusetts Hospital Association call for raising the tobacco sales age from 18 to 21. (CommonWealth)
A group of New Bedford business leaders and politicians is organizing an effort to place a question on November’s ballot for a four-year mayoral term rather than the current two. (Standard-Times) CommonWealth had a story in the Spring 2013 issue looking at the move by more cities to the four-year term.
Two Boston City Hall aides to Mayor Marty Walsh continue to receive their six-figure salaries while suspended and awaiting trial on federal extortion charges, though the city could have opted to suspend them without pay and give them back wages only if cleared on the charges. (Boston Herald)
West Bridgewater officials have finalized the purchase of the River Bend Country Club a month after voters approved the $4.5 million deal. (The Enterprise)
The developers behind a proposed 40B affordable housing project in the Wollaston section of Quincy cut back on their plans but are still meeting resistance from area residents. (Patriot Ledger)
A Globe editorial says neighborhood objections should not scuttle plans for a big buildout of high-end housing in Charlestown that would help subsidize the cost of rebuilding the Bunker Hill public housing development.
American spies reportedly intercepted conversations among high-level Russian officials discussing how they could exert influence over then-candidate Donald Trump through his top advisers. (New York Times)
The Congressional Budget Office says the new GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare will still result in 23 million people losing insurance over the next decade, about 1 million less than the previous plan that failed, while making premiums more costly for those with major illnesses. (New York Times)
US Rep. Katherine Clark goes at it with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who seems to dodge the Melrose congresswoman’s questions about where the federal education department would draw the line on discrimination by private schools getting federal dollars. (Boston Globe)
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott says he plans to veto a bill approved by the Legislature legalizing marijuana. He says some changes are needed. (Associated Press)
The annual price tag for California’s proposed single-payer health care system would be $400 billion, according to a state review. (Governing) A single-payer health system has been embraced by many Democrats in Massachusetts, including gubernatorial candidates Setti Warren and Robert Massie. (CommonWealth)
The Trump Organization said it’s “impractical” to determine who is a foreign official staying at one of the company’s resorts, indicating it will not follow through on President Trump’s promise to turn over “all profits” generated by such stays to avoid ethics conflicts. (New York Times)
A report by UNESCO, the education arm of the United Nations, says that half of the world’s languages could be extinct by the end of the century. (U.S. News & World Report)
A Republican congressional candidate in Montana was charged with assault after he became irritated and allegedly body-slammed a reporter who was asking him questions about the GOP health care bill. (New York Times)
Talk of redeveloping Widett Circle in Boston could conflict the need to use the area as layover storage for commuter rail trains following the planned expansion of South Station. (Boston Globe) Losing valuable real estate to development opportunities is one the arguments US Rep. Seth Moulton makes for the North-South Rail Link, which would allow trains to be stored outside of Boston.
West Springfield gives a tax break to Agri-Mark, the agricultural cooperative planning an expansion. (MassLive)
The New England Patriots will host Gay Bowl 17, the annual national flag football championship for the LGBT community, in October. The Patriots are the first NFL team to sponsor the event. (Outsports)
Another area Catholic school bites the dust, as officials announce that St. Clement School in Medford will be shuttered next month after the school year ends. (Boston Globe)
After a five-month search that drew more than 100 applicants from 37 states, Salem State University taps its general counsel, John Keenan, a former Salem state rep, to be the school’s next president. (Boston Globe)
John Kerry tells graduates at Harvard’s Kennedy School that he doesn’t want to get political, and then gets very political. (Boston Globe)
Seaweed, it’s what’s for dinner. (Greater Boston)
Flight delays are up at Logan Airport as one of the airport’s principal runways is closed for resurfacing. (Boston Globe)
The Army Corps of Engineers is looking to lease land along the Cape Cod Canal to build a solar array to power the agency’s offices, the first of its kind for the federal contractor. (Cape Cod Times)
Employees of the Boston office of the Environmental Protection Agency march through the streets to protest the huge cuts President Trump proposes for the agency. (Boston Globe)
The Connecticut Senate passes a bill allowing the state’s two tribal casinos to open a satellite facility in East Windsor near the MGM casino going up in Springfield. The measure faces resistance in the House and likely a court challenge if it passes. (Associated Press)
A federal appeals court ruled that the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head must hold off any start to construction of a casino until the Martha’s Vineyard town of Aquinnah has a chance to seek review of the issue by the US Supreme Court. (Boston Herald)
The Supreme Judicial Court rules unanimously that a Lowell district court judge did not have the right to remove a public defender whom he tangled with from taking part in the drug court sessions he runs that aim to divert defends from jail and into treatment. (Boston Globe)
MEDIAAs the Boston Globe prepares to move its offices downtown and its presses to Taunton, the paper releases a video tribute to the old presses and the people who run them on Morrissey Boulevard.
Advertisers are beginning to pull out of Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News in the wake of the conservative host’s embrace of an unfounded conspiracy theory connecting the unsolved murder of a Democratic National Committee staffer to the Wikileaks release of Hillary Clinton emails. (Huffington Post)