Mark Ciommo

  1. What is the most unsafe aspect of the current transportation system in your district/in the city, and what do you propose be done to improve the situation?

Safety is the top transportation issue. Streets congested with drivers, cyclists, buses and trains can make for an unsafe commute. To prevent incident, streets must be in the top condition. Well maintained roads with the proper markings and good signage allow for safer transit throughout the city for all commuters. Strong enforcement of parking in bus stops and bike lanes is also essential.

2. We know that lack of physical activity leads to overweight, which leads to rising health care costs. How would you make it easier for people to incorporate physical activity into their everyday activities by making it significantly easier for Boston residents to move around their communities by foot or by bicycle? What would you do to encourage the Safe Routes To School program or other ways to increase the number of children who walk or bike to school? What would you do to make it safer for seniors to walk or bike on our sidewalks and across our streets?

Preventative health measures lower the cost of health care and keep patients out of the doctor’s office and in shape. Encouraging physical activity among residents will make for a healthier Boston. Ensuring safe passage for cyclists and pedestrians on their way to work promotes good health and more efficient, environment-friendly travel. We have worked hard to enforce shoveling ordinances to maintain safe sidewalks. As the former Executive Director of the Veronica B. Smith Senior Center, I know how important it is to keep sidewalks safe, especially for our population of senior citizen.

3. What would you do to help get increased public transportation services in your district/city? In particular, how would you help bring rapid transit to the large sections of Roxbury and Dorchester that currently lack it?

Expanding transportation to Allston-Brighton is a key to economic and social development within Boston. More reliable public transportation and improved commuter rail service in Allston-Brighton are my primary focuses. Additionally, increased communication between the city, the MBTA and the state transportation board will help to improve service and avoid increasing fares. We are close to realizing a new commuter rail stop in Allston-Brighton, an effort that I have advocated for strongly. In my voting capacity on the Boston City Council, I believe public transit is an essential need for every community and I support every communities effort to improve the quality of life in their backyard.

4. How would you apply "complete streets" design concepts, already being discussed by city agencies, that meet the needs of all travel modes including bicycle, pedestrian, transit, and automobiles, to all city streets, rather than just to those being repaired? How would you prioritize which streets are to be dealt with first?

Complete streets including bike lanes, cross walks, restriping, improved bus stops/lanes and train stops along with street renovations will improve safety and the efficiency of transportation. These improvements must be balanced with the reality of the city budget, and there are opportunities to make incremental improvements to roadways without having to wait for a complete overhaul. The streets with the most diverse traffic should be prioritized.

5. Street space is the largest physical asset owned by the city. Devoting almost all of it to car traffic has a major impact on neighborhood quality of life. On what streets would you propose that pedestrian and cyclist use be prioritized, for example through the creation of temporary "cyclovias" that only allow non-motorized travel, or more permanent "shared spaces" and "bike boulevards" that allow cars but at reduced speeds?

The car is no longer the sole mode of private transportation and with increases in public transportation it is not the only vehicle on the road. Bikes and buses now occupy a significant portion of our streets and all streets must be made safe for all commuters. Streets with high traffic volumes should be made to include complete street designs to improve the safety and decrease the congestion on these routes. Similar to the new bike path on North Harvard Street in Allston, routes that enhance access to existing bike paths should be prioritized.

6. Currently, it is technically illegal to ride a bike in city parks; and many neighborhood parks are underutilized. What would you do to increase access to parks by foot or bike or public transportation, and to facilitate cycling in the parks?

Public parks are some of the city’s greatest assets. Increasing public access to these areas can make them more enjoyable for all residents. I would support research into opening public parks to cyclists as a means of both recreation and transportation. As a founding member of the Hobart Park Neighborhood Association, I participated in the design that allowed for safe cycling through the park.

7. Better parking management is even more of a need in many commercial centers than more parking spaces. Reduced parking requirements (in zoning ordinances), Parking Benefit Districts, and other market based policies that price city-owned curb parking to reflect market rates are methods that can help to alleviate parking congestion and shortages. How would you better manage commercial parking areas in your district/in the city?

Parking in Allston-Brighton, much like many neighborhoods in Boston can be very difficult. Insuring fair and convenient parking for residents is a major issue. Residents seeking cost effective parking should be allowed access and the same goes for those seeking convenience. I am open to exploring more efficient ways to price public parking, especially ways that lead to decreased congestion. Enforcing parking restrictions and metered parking ensures proper turnover of parking spaces and benefits local business districts. I also support having car-sharing and bike-sharing programs that help relieve the need for many to own a car and help reduce our already congested streets.

8. How would you leverage opportunities for Federal stimulus funding to create a more "active transportation" infrastructure in our city? What federal programs do you consider most able to be used for this purpose?

Councilor Mark Ciommo The money received from the Federal stimulus is committed to a variety of specific issues around the city. Ensuring that all neighborhoods and transportation concerns receive their fair share is important. As Chairman of the City of Boston Ways and Means Committee, I oversaw the passage of a responsible budget that included significant stimulus funds directed towards specific areas, including towards transportation infrastructure. Moving forward, improving bike lanes, clean running buses, and encouraging more efficient public transit to improve the air quality in our neighborhoods are all important goals.

9. Many bicyclists feel under assault on Boston roads and many drivers view bicyclist as serious nuisances. How would you address the attitudes of drivers and bicyclists to promote a more civil atmosphere of road sharing and cooperation on city streets? How would you incorporate driver and bicycle training programs into the educational system of your district/city?

Ensuring the safety and confronting the concerns of cyclists and motorists is central to the transportation issue. Improving street conditions is just the first step in this process. As the Allston-Brighton District City Councilor, I have found that bringing commuters together in neighborhood meetings to voice their concerns and safety issues promotes an atmosphere of understanding and allows for the exchange of ideas in improving the transportation situation. Additionally, each year District 14 Police Station holds a bicycle safety day and distributes safety equipment and educational material and instruction to the community.

10. How do you personally get around the city? Please give percentages for walking, bicycling, public transportation, and automobile.

As a Boston resident and commuter I have made use of nearly all forms of transportation available in the city. When not traveling by car, I use the green line to get to Red Sox games and other high-traffic events. Residents can also find me regularly patrolling the neighborhood by foot, working on constituent concerns and other residential matters.