News & Updates

Mayor Wu announces events to highlight vision for car-free streets

Jun 02, 2022

Today, Mayor Michelle Wu announced three new Open Streets events, welcoming neighbors into car-free streets for community, joy, and play. These half-day long events will stretch out over one to two miles of road, leaving ample space for programming, including music, games, face-painting, business and community group tabling, fitness classes, bicycle repairs and more. The City is contracting with Shana Bryant Consulting, a Black- and woman-owned small business, to carry out Boston’s Open Streets program. Mayor Wu today also announced Copley Connect, a pilot initiative that will study the future use of Dartmouth Street between Boylston Street and St. James Avenue for ten days in June. From Tuesday, June 7 to Friday, June 17, the block between Copley Square Park and the Boston Public Library will be closed to motor vehicle traffic and open to pedestrians.

Open Streets

The Open Streets events will take place in Jamaica Plain, Roxbury and Dorchester, and will last from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The routes are as follows:

  • Sunday July 10: Centre Street - Lamartine to Soldier’s Monument (Centre/South) 1.4 miles
  • Saturday August 6: Grove Hall (Warren/Blue Hill) - Dudley St. to Warren Ave. 1.2 miles
  • Saturday September 24: Dorchester Ave. - Freeport St. to Gallivan Blvd. 2.0 miles

“City streets and roadways represent a huge portion of public land, and we’re eager to host these events opening up several major streets to community for summer fun,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “These events will showcase our neighborhoods and help reshape what’s possible as we fuel our city’s social and economic recovery.”

“These open streets events are an exciting opportunity to welcome people back to our neighborhoods and support our small businesses,” said Segun Idowu, Chief of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion. “We are fortunate to be able to work with Shana Bryant Consulting, a Black woman-owned business, to carry out these events as it is a reflection of Mayor Wu’s commitment to fostering an inclusive economy and the equitable awarding of city contracts.”

“Boston’s streets belong to everyone,” said Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Chief of Streets. “Opening our streets for play, active recreation and local shopping will reimagine these public spaces for a day, creating a unique, vibrant experience for residents across our neighborhoods.”

"In order for our public infrastructure to be welcoming and accessible for all, we need opportunities for joy and creativity," said Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture. "Bringing safe, outdoor community events that integrate community-building, fun, and art into public spaces will allow us to come together and make the entire city more vibrant."

“As a community member and resident of Boston, I’m excited that my business, Shana Bryant Consulting, has been selected to work in partnership with the City of Boston and Mayor Wu to bring Open Streets Boston to life,” said Shana Bryant. “My team, which has over 3 decades of experience planning events, along with working with and in the community, is excited to connect and partner with local organizations, businesses, and residents to make these events in Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, and Dorchester, fun, engaging, multicultural and cross-generational.”

Programming will include activities unique to each neighborhood, offering a taste of culture through a variety of food trucks, big games, photo installations, exclusive performances and activations. Examples include a block party in collaboration with SEED in JP, a roller rink in Roxbury, and boxing on Dorchester Ave.

Copley Connect

Copley Connect will offer food trucks, programming from the Boston Public Library, performances, as well as various activities for youth and families. Opening Dartmouth Street to pedestrians will unify and complement planned initiatives and investments into Copley Square Park and the Public Library’s Plaza. The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) committed $200,000 to public realm and wayfinding planning in Copley Square.

"The BPDA is proud to support Copley Connect, where we will learn key information to create a more pedestrian-friendly Copley Square," said Arthur Jemison, Chief of Planning. "We are excited to study the impacts of connecting and expanding the public realm around two of our most cherished historic public assets, the Boston Public Library and Copley Square Park.”

In addition to this pilot program, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department is in the process of making improvements to Copley Square Park, which borders Dartmouth Street, protecting and enhancing existing trees, strengthening the connection between the Square and the Library, improving the existing fountain, providing lush green space for enjoyment and habitat, and creating new opportunities for seating and gathering, as a way to reinvigorate the area as a community gathering space.

“Parks project managers are looking forward to hosting a table with members of the design team to share plans for improvements to Copley Square and answer questions that the public may have regarding the design,” said Ryan Woods, Commissioner of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. “Together with stakeholder agencies, neighbors, and park users, the plan will center the needs of present and future generations while preserving the Square’s place as an iconic Boston landmark.”

“I’m looking forward to learning from the traffic data that will accompany this experiment, and welcoming constituents, Bostonians, and tourists alike to this temporary additional pedestrian space in Copley Square,” said Kenzie Bok, District 8 City Councilor.

There are a number of factors the City and BPDA will examine during the pilot initiative including the impact on the surrounding street network and the use of the open street space. This data will be tracked and analyzed over the course of the pilot to better inform future planning. During these ten days, staff will be on hand to engage with the public about the pilot and how they think this space should be used moving forward. In addition to the community engagement throughout the duration of the pilot, the BPDA has scheduled a “Chat With a Planner” event in which community members can talk with neighborhood planners about the initiative.

This pilot initiative presents the opportunity to expand and unify the public realm in Copley Square, and ultimately better connect it to nearby open spaces and transit stations.

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Additionally, the Mayor announced that Open Newbury will be expanded this summer, with dates to be released shortly. In addition to Open Streets and Open Newbury, the Mayor affirmed her commitment to summer programming across downtown and Boston, kicked off by the Boston Blooms Block Party on April 13, welcoming people back to downtown. The City of Boston will continue to build on downtown and neighborhood-level programming, particularly focused on repurposing city streets for joy, play and active recreation.

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