Massachusetts Pedestrian Transportation Plan
Draft is completed, public comment period now open
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is announcing that the Draft Massachusetts Pedestrian Transportation Plan is now available for public comment. You can review the plan and provide feedback online here.
MassDOT is focused on making the Commonwealth’s transportation system more sustainable – to make it safe and comfortable for people to choose to walk, bike, and take transit for more of their daily trips.
The Pedestrian Plan is important because we are all pedestrians at some point in our daily travels – we walk to get to school or work, to our cars and to transit stops and stations, or simply crossing the street to get to a store. Pedestrians are not just people on two feet, but anyone who uses wheelchairs, canes, or other assistive mobility devices.
The Plan defines a vision for Massachusetts in which all people have a safe and comfortable walking option for short trips. The Plan presents an action-oriented strategy with the goal of increasing the percentage of short trips made by walking and also eliminating pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries. Pedestrian fatalities have been increasing over the last decade in Massachusetts. The plan goes into further detail about the state of walking today.
The underlying principles of the Plan:
- Principle 1: Treat people walking the same way we do people driving. For decades, transportation planning has prioritized automobile travel over all other modes. This orientation has led to transportation and land use decisions that focus on making driving more convenient and safer, often at the expense of other travel modes including walking, bicycling, and transit. MassDOT aims to update practices to provide the same care by implementing the initiatives in this Plan.
- Principle 2: Focus on systematic safety improvements. Rather than being fixed independent of other projects, infrastructure deficiencies in pedestrian facilities (such as crumbling sidewalks) are typically handled as part of larger roadway projects. While it is important that we address pedestrian facilities as critical elements of larger transportation needs, attention to individual areas or projects is needed as well.
- Principle 3: Lead by example and support municipalities. Municipalities are critical to the success of this Plan. MassDOT owns just 8% of all sidewalk miles and 8.2% of all roadway miles in the state, which means that most pedestrian facilities fall under local control. By investing in MassDOT-owned facilities, MassDOT is not only upgrading critical network elements, but is also establishing best practices for communities to emulate.
The Action Plan lays out a set of new initiatives and related actions to address identified needs to meet the plan goals. The six initiatives include:
Initiative 1: Promote pedestrian safety, accessibility, and connectivity in investment decision-making and project development.
Initiative 2: Establish a set of prioritized pedestrian projects on MassDOT-owned roadways and bridges to address critical safety, accessibility, and connectivity gaps.
Initiative 3: Slow vehicle speeds and improve visibility of people walking.
Initiative 4: Improve pedestrian accessible paths of travel to transit.
Initiative 5: Launch a year-round maintenance and operations plan for MassDOT-owned pedestrian facilities and support municipalities to do the same.
Initiative 6: Invest in data collection to inform initiatives 1-5 and to track progress.
In addition to the Plan, a companion document was created, called the Municipal Resource Guide for Walkability in recognition of the important role local cities and towns play. The purpose of the guide is to support cities and towns in their efforts to improve walkability as the vast majority of roadways and sidewalks statewide are under local ownership. A draft guide was released in September of 2017 and an updated version will be published with the final Pedestrian Plan later this year.
Over the last two years, the Pedestrian Plan and Municipal Resource Guide for Walkability were informed by public feedback and data analysis. The Massachusetts Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board served as the steering committee for the plan.
For more information on the Pedestrian Plan and to provide feedback: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/pedestrian-plan.