After Police Officer Struck in Forest Hills, Councilors Continue Push to Make Area Safer

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Is it only a matter of time before a pedestrian, bicyclist, driver or passenger dies in an accident in the Forest Hills area that could've been avoided? After a Boston Police officer was hit while working a detail on Monday, residents, city councilors and the MBTA are pushing hard to make the area safer.

Thankfully, it appears the officer did not suffer life threatening injuries after a dump truck collided with a van, which then hit the vehicle the officer was in at Ukraine Way and Hyde Park Avenue, reported WCVB.

Local resident Kyle Vining has witnessed safety issues in the Forest Hills area, and has complained to the city to improve the area since at least 2016. Vining tweeted after the accident:

"My heart is heavy and my spirit is sad today to hear that a officer was struck today at the very intersection I have been complaining to and to fix for the last 3 years since I moved to Forest Hills."

Two weeks prior Vining tweeted a video of an MBTA bus driver clearly blowing through a red stop light at Ukraine Way and Washington Street, only a mere 50 feet away from Monday's accident.

While Monday's accident didn't involve any MBTA employee -- there have been concerns about bus drivers -- as well as issues with crosswalks, signals and other infrastructural designs.

"Safety is always our top priority and the MBTA takes reported violations very seriously. Bus operators go through rigorous and regular training to operate T vehicles," said Lisa Battiston, Deputy Press Secretary for the MBTA, to Jamaica Plain News.

She added that if a traffic violation is confirmed by bus supervisors, immediate action is taken to remove the bus operator from operating an MBTA vehicle. The bus operator in Vining's video was identified and the matter was investigated. Battison is not allowed to comment on specific personnel matters, but she told Jamaica Plain News that "appropriate action" was taken after the investigation.

Both District 6 City Councilor Matt O'Malley and At-Large Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu are big proponents for public transportation and go through the Forest Hills area almost daily. Both councilors have held office hours on the T to meet with commuters.

"Street safety ranks among my top priorities this year and has been an integral part of my work for the last nine years on the Council. We know that crashes on our streets are rarely 'accidents,' but instead the result of unsafe street design that we must continue to work to remedy," said O'Malley, District 6's City Councilor, to Jamaica Plain News. "I will redouble my efforts to advocate with Forest Hills neighbors for safety along Hyde Park Avenue and look forward to working with my colleagues at the state level to make sure the MBTA and all levels of government contribute to a safe Forest Hills area for walkers, cyclists and drivers."

Wu said that while major construction and traffic pattern changes for the Forest Hills area, which have plagued the area in recent years are nearing an end, more needs to be done in regards to enforcement, as well as the creation of safe infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians.

"The weekday morning dedicated bus and bike lane on Washington Street has been a great improvement, but we need infrastructure on Hyde Park Avenue for traffic relief and safety," said Wu to Jamaica Plain News. "Several residents testified on behalf of their neighbors at [Tuesday's] Boston Transportation Department budget hearing about the Hyde Park Avenue side of Forest Hills station, and I look forward to following up on making this important corridor safer and more convenient for all commuters and residents.”

The Boston Transportation Department did not return a request for comment.

If anyone observes activity that is contrary to safe driving standards, the MBTA encourages the public to report any activity contrary to safe driving standards by calling 617-222-3200 or tweeting @MBTA.

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