Local News

More Boston streets will be car-free on select days this summer. Here’s what to know.

You'll be able to stroll down more than just a no-cars Newbury Street this year.

Newbury Street will be one of the roads closing to cars this summer. Photo by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
Open Streets

A few more thoroughfares other than Newbury Street will be car — and traffic — free this summer.

Mayor Michelle Wu on Thursday unveiled, “Boston Open Streets,” a series of events that expands upon the city’s past flirtation with making more streets pedestrian and cycle-centric.

On select days, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. the city will block off one-to-two miles of roadway on portions of Centre Street in Jamaica Plain (July 10), Warren Street/Blue Hill Avenue in Roxbury (Aug. 6), and Dorchester Avenue in Dorchester (Sept. 24) to vehicular traffic.

In years past, Newbury Street has seen a similar program, which has become something of a popular mainstay of the summer season. The city plans to bring back that program as well, with yet-to-be-announced “expanded hours and timeframes,” Wu said.


On the designated streets, in lieu of cars and trucks, residents can expect a temporary takeover of pedestrians, cyclists, shopping, and community building, according to the mayor.

Simply put, the Open Streets effort will help spur economic growth in neighborhood hubs all while letting Bostonians soak up some sun and connect with one another in a unique way, especially after a difficult few years dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.

“On each specific day, we’ll close the sections of roadway to car traffic to create and reclaim space for residents to celebrate the summer,” Wu said at a press conference. “We’ve seen a number of cities around the country in the world implement similarly successful initiatives that bring people together and also help keep dollars flowing in our local small businesses … and make sure that people can have fun with their neighbors and or even go visit a new part of the city.”

According to Wu’s office, 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.”

Wu, who ran for mayor last year on a platform to make Boston’s often congested streets more people-friendly, also unveiled plans for another new initiative dubbed “Copley Connect.”


Under that vision, food trucks, performances, Boston Public Library programs, and activities for children and families will find a home on a sliver of Dartmouth Street, between St. James Avenue and Boylston Street, from June 7 to 17.

The pilot program is part of the city’s efforts “to study the future use” of that section of Dartmouth Street, which is flanked by the Public Library’s Plaza and Copley Square Park, Wu said.

“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,” Wu’s office said in a news release.

During the pilot, city officials will analyze the vehicular traffic closure’s impact on surrounding streets and how the open street space is ultimately used, officials said. City employees will be on-site throughout the pilot to gather the public’s feedback.

Jascha Franklin-Hodge, the city’s chief of streets, said his department is working closely with public safety agencies, traffic engineers, and the MBTA “to ensure that residents can safely circulate” during the closures.

While Wu is searching for what the future holds for Boston’s streets, in some ways, the new initiative is really not new at all.


Long before cars dominated the city’s roads, the streets were places for commerce, play, and fostering communities, Franklin-Hodge said.

“These events help us experience the many different ways that streets can serve our neighborhoods,” he said. “They create space for walking, rolling, cycling, and coming together with people who you may see every day or may not see very often.

“And they help us imagine different futures — a future where streets serve their essential transportation functions, but also bring more kinds of connectivity than just moving cars from A to B,” he added.

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