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Circle the City to create car-free corridors in Boston on two upcoming Sundays

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  July 9, 2012 04:06 PM

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(Emerald Necklace Conservancy / Google Maps)

A map showing Circle the City activities, street closures, and parking restrictions planned for Sun. July 15.

On two upcoming Sundays, traffic will be shut down and parking restricted on several Boston streets as part of an initiative that promotes healthy activities and aims to unite neighbors with area parks.

On July 15, “Circle the City” will create a car-free corridor between Jamaica Pond and Franklin Park, according to event organizers. On Aug. 5, a car-free corridor will be set up along the Rose Kennedy Greenway in downtown Boston.

The open-streets initiative, supported by federal agencies, the City of Boston and a host of local organizations, invites residents and visitors to “get out and play, dance, roll, walk and bike” along the stretches of car-less streets and parks that will boast “festival-like atmospheres,” organizers said. The events are free to attend.

Live music and dance performances are scheduled to be held and outdoor activities including fitness and yoga classes, health checks, sports clinics, hula hooping, roller skating, bike rentals, farmers’ markets and culinary demonstrations are being planned.

“There is so much to see in Boston on foot. I encourage everyone to come out with their friends, family, and neighbors to enjoy Circle the City,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement. “It’s like a big backyard barbecue on the streets connecting two of the gems on the Emerald Necklace, with our food trucks and tons of free activities to take part in.”

The initiative launched, without street closures, at Franklin Park on June 24, the first of three event dates.

“Circle The City is not a parade, nor is it a race. Rather it is a unique opportunity to safely enjoy the streets and explore new neighborhoods and parks,” organizers said on the website of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, one of the event’s key sponsors. “In crowded cities around the U.S. and the world, open streets initiatives are drawing people out of their homes and cars and onto miles of safe, car-free streets to celebrate active urban living in our most public space.”

“With community-building, healthy lifestyles and park accessibility at the heart of these events, open streets engage participants of every age and background, featuring free activities that promote healthy living in the city and celebrate some of our greatest urban resources—our parks,” the website said. “The events provide a model of how cities can provide healthy, environmentally friendly outdoor activities for their residents.”

A growing number of cities have arranged similar events that feature temporary car-free corridors, the conservancy said.

Earlier this spring, the America’s Great Outdoors initiative named Circle the City as one of five nationally-selected “2012 Urban Signature Projects,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which, through its New England office, nominated the Boston open streets event for the distinction.

President Barack Obama launched America’s Great Outdoors in 2010, charging federal conservation and environmental protection agencies to develop a modern conservation and recreation agenda, the agency said in a statement in March. The initiative’s recommendations included connecting people with urban parks and green space and aligning federal programs to promote creation, expansion and enhancement with such spaces.

Federal agencies, including those that oversee the environment, transportation, health, human services and parks will support Circle the City through: assistance with cleanup in the Muddy River area; air quality monitoring, testing and information; road closure and public safety permitting; health screenings; and park management and maintenance assets, according the federal environmental agency.

Other co-planners of Circle the City include the Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness, LivableStreets Alliance, Franklin Park Coalition, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The Barr Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts are among the lead sponsors, according to the conservancy website. The Boston Globe, including its website boston.com, is a lead media partner of the initiative with additional support from Yelp.com, the Bay State Banner, Jamaica Plain Gazette and the MBTA.

“Circle The City is about connecting all Boston residents more deeply with parks and open spaces, promoting opportunities for greater health and wellness, and making our city a more vibrant place to live," Julie Crockford, president of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, said in a statement.

Organizers said that the July 15 and Aug. 5 street closures will be arranged so that people have alternative routes to drive around the neighborhoods, including by allowing cross traffic to pass through at a limited number of points along the closed routes.

“Our dates have been researched to account for conflicts with other large Boston events,” the conservancy’s website said. “This type of closure has worked very well in many other cities around the world. Traffic will be monitored so that any traffic impacts can be measured.”

On July 15, Street closures will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m, the website said. Parking restrictions will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Circle the City event itself will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The following streets between Franklin Park and Jamaica Pond will be closed to vehicular traffic, according to organizers, and Boston Police ask that all cars be moved from these streets or placed in driveways:

  • Glen Road between Franklin Park and Washington Street
  • Green Street between Washington Street and Centre Street
  • Myrtle Street between Centre Street and Pond Street
  • Pond Street between Grovenor Road and the Jamaica Way
  • Note: Vehicles will be allowed to cross Green Street only at Forest Hills, Washington, Amory and Centre streets. The Jamaica Way will remain open.

In addition, organizers said the following blocks will be closed to traffic:

  • Sigourney Street between Robeson Street and Glen Road
  • Glade Avenue
  • Glenside Avenue
  • Rocky Nook Terrace
  • Greenley Place
  • Oakdale Street between Cerina Road and Green Street
  • Elm Street between Gordon Street and Green Street
  • Lamartine Street between Cerina Road and Green Street
  • Cheshire Street between Biltmore and Green streets
  • Chestnut Avenue between Segel and Green streets
  • Alfred Street between Seaverns Avenue and Green Street
  • Rockview Street between St. John Street and Green Street
  • Warren Square (off of Green St)
  • Park Place (off of Myrtle)
  • Woolsley Place between Gordon and Green streets
  • Pond Street between Grovenor Road and Myrtle streets
  • Union Street between Green Street and Brookside Avenue
  • Brookside Avenue between Ophir and Green streets

The parking lot at 500 and 555 Amory St. will be open to neighbors who would like to get their cars out before 10 a.m., organizers said. Cars can exit to Union Avenue and Washington Street through the back of the lot.

On Aug. 5, Circle the City will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Street closures and parking restrictions for that date have not yet been announced.

For more information, visit: www.emeraldnecklace.org/circle-the-city.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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