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Last updated: 7/11/18

Neighborhood Slow Streets

Boston's approach to traffic calming on residential streets.

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

Each year, neighborhood associations, community groups, faith-based intuitions, or other organized groups of neighbors will be able to apply for traffic calming in a specific neighborhood. Selected neighborhoods will work with the Transportation Department and Public Works. We'll review the area, identify opportunities, and put in place changes to slow traffic speeds and improve safety.

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Get updates
Get general updates about the Neighborhood Slow Streets program.

Looking for updates about a specific Neighborhood Slow Streets zone? Visit our neighborhood specific pages!

About the program

Rather than planning and implementing changes on one street at a time, Boston will address an entire “zone” within a neighborhood. 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.

Apply


step
1
city makes Application available 
step
2
community groups apply by August 24
step
3
city conducts objective evaluation 
step
4
City announces new zones 

The Boston Transportation Department (BTD) will accept applications through Friday, August 24, 2018. Applications should be submitted by neighborhood associations, community groups, faith-based intuitions, or other organized groups of neighbors.

Use the links below to download the application packet, slide decks that can be used for presentations with community groups, and the signature page.

application (PDF)

Dark side deck (PDF)

Light side deck (PDF)

Signature Page (PDF)

new applicant checklist:
  • Contact information for the one or two people who will serve as the primary contact(s) for the program.
  • A map of your zone showing the boundaries of your proposed zone.
  • Signatures from community members that support the program.
  • Three letters of support from organizations, key community stakeholders, or officials
Returning applicant checklist:
  • Contact information for the one or two people who will serve as the primary contact(s) for the program.
  • Signatures from community members that support the program.

Many zones submitted last year were large or otherwise in need of adjustment to fit the program. If you’d like to make adjustments to your zone, you may submit a new zone map. If your zone requires changes, we will work with you to identify those changes before we evaluate your zone.

Process

The Neighborhood Slow Streets program will follow the general process, below, 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 zones based on objective criteria.
  5. City notifies applicants and officially announces participating neighborhoods.

Plan development →

  1. Community partner hosts a neighborhood walk with City staff, key stakeholders, and residents.
  2. Community partner may assist 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, may conduct post-construction qualitative survey.
  4. City collects post-construction data, including crashes and average speeds.

Common questions

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. Applications are due August 24, 2018.

No. Applications must be from a group of residents such as a neighborhood association, community group, faith-based intuition, or another organized group of neighbors.

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

The application is available in the "Apply" section of this page. If you need a paper copy mailed to you, request it by emailing najah.casimir@boston.gov or calling 617-635-4765.

Najah Casimir, Active Transportation Coordinator, is available to answer your questions. You can email her at najah.casimir@boston.gov or call her at 617-635-4765. If you are leaving a voicemail, be sure to leave your name and callback number.

The Neighborhood Slow Streets program prioritizes areas with the most need. We will use objective evaluation criteria to select 3 to 5 communities that:

  • Are home to higher percentages of youth, older adults, and people with disabilities
  • Experience higher numbers of traffic crashes per mile that resulted in an EMS response
  • Include, or border, community places: public libraries, BCYFs, schools, and parks
  • Support existing and planned opportunities for walking, bicycling, and access to transit
  • Are feasible for the City of Boston to implement improvements

We anticipate selecting 3-5 communities to join the program in 2018.

You are welcome to apply again next year. We anticipate accepting applications annually.

You must collect at least two full pages of signatures (24 signatures) from people who live in the zone. This helps show baseline community support. But, we will not factor the total number of signatures into your score.

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.

2017 Evaluation

Five communities joined 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.