Back to top
Last updated: 7/20/17

Neighborhood Slow Streets

Neighborhood Slow Streets is a new approach to traffic calming requests in Boston.

We aim to reduce the number and severity of crashes on residential streets, lessen the impacts of cut-through traffic, and add to the quality of life in our neighborhoods.

Each year, residents, neighborhood associations, and other community-based organizations will be able to apply for traffic calming in a specific neighborhood. Selected neighborhoods will work with the Boston Transportation Department and Public Works Department to plan and implement their Neighborhood Slow Streets project.

Have questions?

For more information or answers to questions, email us at btd@boston.gov.

New 2017 Zones

We are pleased to announce the five communities who will join the Neighborhood Slow Streets Program in 2017:

  • Chinatown
  • Grove Hall / Quincy Corridor
  • Highland Park
  • Mount Hope / Canterbury
  • West of Washington Coalition

These five zones were selected via an objective evaluation process based on the pre-established criteria that were described on our web page and in application materials.

Read more about our evaluation process

Download the methodology (PDF, 18.9 mb)*

*Note: This document is not intended for printing. If you need to print any of the pages, use one of the documents provided in the "Print" section of the evaluation process page.

About the program

Rather than planning and implementing changes on one street at a time, Boston will address an entire “zone” within a neighborhood. A typical zone will consist of 10 to 15 blocks. We will look at every street within the zone, in partnership with the community, to identify problems and design effective solutions. We anticipate traffic-calming elements and safety improvements will be proposed for almost every street within the zone.

When each zone’s plan is implemented, streets will have visual and physical cues to slow drivers to 20 mph — making each street feel more inviting for people of all ages who are walking, playing, or bicycling. The Slow Streets program will emphasize quick-install, low-cost fixes, such as signage, pavement markings, speed humps, and daylighting.

Process

The Neighborhood Slow Streets program will follow the below general process, with roles identified for City departments and for community applicants/partners. Once a neighborhood is selected for the program, residents should anticipate the planning, design, and construction process to take approximately two years.

Application →

  1. City announces application period and encourages broad participation in program.
  2. Applicant builds support among residents and greater community.
  3. Applicant solicits letters of support from key stakeholders, such as neighborhood associations, police precincts, schools, Neighborhood Liaisons, and/or elected officials.
  4. City reviews and evaluates applications.
  5. City notifies applicants and officially announces participating neighborhoods and community partners.

Plan development →

  1. Community partner hosts a neighborhood walk with City staff, key stakeholders, and residents.
  2. Community partner assists with a qualitative survey of neighborhood residents.
  3. City collects and compiles relevant data, such as crash history, existing neighborhood plans, and speed studies.
  4. City hosts initial public meeting to present data and a recommended plan for community feedback.
  5. City completes preliminary engineering work.
  6. City hosts a second public meeting to present final traffic calming plan. Community members will have the opportunity to provide additional comments.

Implementation!

  1. City works with contractor to develop construction schedule, which is shared with the community partner and general public.
  2. Construction takes place during weekday waking hours whenever possible.
  3. Community partner, in collaboration with City, conducts post-construction qualitative survey.
  4. City collects post-construction data, including crashes and average speeds.

Application

The application period for 2017 is now over.

We received 47 submissions from across the City and have selected five new communities to join the program. You can read more about our 2017 evaluation process or download our 2017 methodology.

For reference purposes, you can download the 2017 application packet. We anticipate accepting new applications in early 2018.

Common questions

Common questions

Neighborhood Slow Streets is a City initiative to slow traffic speeds and improve safety on residential streets within a specific area. When a neighborhood is part of the program, the speed limit on its residential streets will be 20 MPH.

Work with your neighbors to submit an application. We anticipate accepting new applications in early 2018.

No. Applications must be from a group of residents such as a neighborhood association or a community-based organization. 

We anticipate demand for the program will outpace the resources available each year. With an application process, we can objectively evaluate interested neighborhoods. 

The applications will be available online at boston.gov/transportation/neighborhood-slow-streets. If you need a paper copy mailed to you, please request it by calling 617-635-4680.

You can email us at visionzero@boston.gov or call 617-635-4680.

In 2017, applications were objectively scored according to criteria including:

  • Community support, as evidenced by letters of support, a presentation, signed petitions, surveys, and/or neighborhood reports or audits
  • Percentage of households with children under 18
  • Percentage of population aged 65 and older
  • Presence of schools, parks, community centers, libraries, and public housing
  • Proximity to rail transit and bus routes
  • Identified walking or bicycling routes to schools or other bicycle routes identified in master plans
  • Crash history, including total number of crashes and number of crashes that resulted in fatal or serious injuries
  • Clear, strong boundaries to the neighborhood zone
  • Geographic diversity of selected neighborhoods
  • Feasibility of the City to implement improvements

In 2017, we welcomed 5 new communities into the program.

You are welcome to apply again next year. We anticipate accepting applications in early 2018.

As many as you would like to collect. Unlike other programs, such as the Residential Parking Permit program, you are not required to collect a certain amount of signatures from your neighbors. We do encourage you to show broad interest in the program, however. Collecting signatures is one way to that.

While your proposed area could include streets that are not owned by the City of Boston, we likely cannot make changes to those streets.

You can expect to see new signs, pavement markings, speed humps, and improvements to visibility at intersections. In some places, you could see additional changes, such as raised crosswalks, curb extensions, and neighborhood traffic circles.

Stop signs are used to control how traffic flows through an intersection. An engineering analysis must be conducted before a stop sign is installed. Among other things, engineers evaluate how many people drive, bike, and walk through an intersection and the number and type of crashes that have happened. Stop signs are not traffic-calming measures, but may be considered as part of the Neighborhood Slow Streets program if an intersection meets engineering standards. If you believe an intersection needs a stop sign, make the request through Boston 311.

No. Our snow plowing teams will be notified of locations with speed humps so drivers can know to expect them. Signs will be installed on streets to notify drivers of the location of speed humps.