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A graphical interpretation of a typical residential street in Boston, showing homes, trees, and people who are walking, bicycling, and driving on the street.

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.

We're taking applications

Applications are due by Friday, March 24.

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

About Slow Streets

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.

Apply

The Boston Transportation Department (BTD) will accept applications through Friday, March 24, 2017. Applications should be submitted by neighborhood associations, community organizations, or institutions such as churches.

Download the application

Application checklist:
  • Application form, including contact information
  • A map of the proposed location and boundaries of the Neighborhood Slow Zone. Identify any schools, parks, community centers, hospitals, police stations, or firehouses.
  • Letters from organizations, residents, and officials in support the proposed Neighborhood Slow Streets zone
  • Presentation made at a neighborhood association or other community organization meeting
  • Optional additional documentation in support of Neighborhood Slow Streets

Return all completed applications by Friday, March 24, 2017. To be eligible, applications must be received on or before this deadline. At its sole discretion BTD reserves the right to accept any application received past the deadline. All applicants will be sent confirmation of receipt of their proposals.

Electronic applications may be submitted by sending an email with PDF attachments to visionzero@boston.gov.

Hard copies of the application form, map, letters, and all other materials must arrive on or before Friday, March 24, 2017. Address your package to: Boston Transportation Department, ATTN: Stefanie Seskin, 1 City Hall Square, Room 721, Boston, MA 02201.

Common questions

Common questions
What is Neighborhood Slow Streets?
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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.

How can my neighborhood be part of the program?
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Work with your neighbors to submit an application. Applications are due on March 24, 2017.

Can I apply as an individual?
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No. Applications must be from a group of residents such as a neighborhood association or a community-based organization. 

Why do I need to fill out an application?
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We anticipate demand for the program will outpace the resources available each year. With an application process, we can objectively evaluate interested neighborhoods. 

Where can I find the application?
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The application is 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.

Who can I contact for more information?
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You can email us at btd@boston.gov or call 617-635-4680.

How will neighborhoods be selected?
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All applications will be 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
How many neighborhoods will be in the program this year?
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We anticipate working with two to three neighborhoods this year.

What if my neighborhood isn’t accepted this year?
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You are welcome to apply again next year. We anticipate accepting applications next winter.

How many signatures do we need to collect?
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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.

Can my proposal include streets or portions of streets that are owned by private entities, the state, or federal agencies?
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While your proposed area could include streets that are not owned by the City of Boston, we likely cannot make changes to those streets.

What changes can I expect to see on my street if my neighborhood is part of the program?
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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.

What can I do to have a stop sign installed on my street?
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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.

Will speed humps impact snow removal?
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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.