Hey, there! Log in / Register

Brookline to give pedestrians, bicyclists, scooter riders and people in wheelchairs some more room for social distancing on some major roads

The Brookline Transportation Division reports both the Select Board and the Transportation Board have approved an "open streets" plan to reallocate some of the asphalt along Harvard Street, Longwood and Brookline avenues and part of Beacon Street for use by people not in cars so that they can get around while maintaining social distance, at least during the current Covid-19 emergency.

The town now needs to figure out exactly how to parcel out pieces of the road surface for use by non-motorists. Several American cities have carved out new space out of roads that few are now driving on. Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for such a plan on some New York City streets.


Beacon Street Eastbound (Webster Street to Pleasant Street)

Vehicular traffic will be allowed only in the left lane, with parking available in the right lane. The existing parking lane will be open for pedestrians, cyclists, scooters and mobility devices.

Beacon Street Westbound (Pleasant Street to Marion Street)

Vehicular traffic will be allowed only in the left lane, with the right lane serving as a parking lane and the existing parking lane remaining open for pedestrians, cyclists, scooters and mobility devices.

Brookline Avenue (Pearl Street to the town line)

Parking lanes in each direction will be removed to provide additional space for pedestrians, cyclists, scooters and mobility devices.

Harvard Street

One parking lane will be removed along the entire length of the street to better accommodate pedestrian, bicycle and scooter traffic.

Longwood (Town line to Sewall Avenue)

The parking lane will be opened as an expansion of the adjacent sidewalk.


Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!


It's very easy to block off one half of a divided road, reserving it for pedestrians, while turning the other side into two-way traffic.

This could be done on Mass Ave in Cambridge (from Harvard Square to Route 16), Memorial Drive in front of MIT, Commonwealth Avenue, Blue Hill Avenue (from Grove Hall south to Mattapan), Columbia Road, Seaver Street, Hyde Park Avenue, Day Boulevard, and a bunch of roads in the Seaport district. Maybe even Morrissey Blvd, too?

Voting closed 42

You can't do that - there are traffic lights on divided roads that only face one way, signage, etc.

Post signs at major thoroughfare entryways and major intersections that say on any two lane road, the rightmost lane is now ped and bike only. Drop cones periodically to reinforce it.

Voting closed 17

This would have the added benefit of giving pedestrians the absolute right-of-way in all crosswalks at all times.

Voting closed 19

when they close one side of it for the Haitian parade and the J'ouvert parade. The parade uses the northbound lanes, and two-way traffic uses the normally-southbound lanes.

Voting closed 9

I just want to be sure that putting two-way traffic on one half of a divided road doesn't create a confusing mess that leads to traffic accidents.

I've certainly seen some confusing cone arrangements at construction sites that aren't at all clear how to navigate. Like cones separating the road in half, but it's unclear which half is for driving and which is closed for the construction. Or 3 lanes delineated by cones, and it's not clear which direction the middle lane is for.

Drivers have to guess, and maybe get screamed at by a detail cop if they get it wrong. Will these closures have detail cops? Effective signage would be better and cheaper.

Voting closed 15

Moving traffic to one side of a two-way divided road would be a problem. Signals, setting up lane divisions, public works personnel to set it up (and continue to reset it as pieces get knocked down), traffic police needed for setup and until people got used to it, etc....
It would be slightly better to simply eliminate on-street parking in each direction on the given corridor and have the extra width of pavement right next to the sidewalk, but that butts into the push to have people stay at home so much of the time.
If the sidewalk truly is not wide enough, best approach might be to close one travel lane (the right lane) in each direction, leave the rest of the lanes open, move parking from the curb to the closed lane, and expand the sidewalk into the former parking.

Voting closed 8

at the Brown Family House at 370 Harvard St.? How is it that they get to continue construction during this crisis, and how do they get to take away the sidewalk from pedestrians for months, creating a significant safety hazard? Who in the Brookline city govt is allowing this and why?

Voting closed 35

Please. It's a joke. Do you know how many times we called 311 and BPD on the continuing loud construction at 63 Morton Street, JP ? ISD goes out there and BPD goes out there, then the construction workers go right back at it the next morning. In the middle of a residential neighborhood. Senior housing is at an abutting property, too.

Voting closed 14

Residential and mixed use construction is deemed essential by the Governor. The Town of Brookline can't legally make them stop at this time.

Voting closed 7

The short answer is that housing construction is explicitly considered essential services. So it's not really Brookline's decision.

Voting closed 9

The latest directives from Baker's office say Towns can't stop construction. Boston is ignoring this request, Brookline is a bit more rules-oriented (for better and for worse).

They are encouraging the Commonwealth to enact a ban so they can in turn do a ban. (see here: https://brooklinecovid19.com/2020/04/08/update-19-645-p-m-4-8-20-town-of...)

As for 370 Harvard Street, it's unconscionable that a construction project can block the sidewalk without alternative same-side access for a year. Once things return to normal, I want to try to take this up via a Warrant Article or such mandating that space be taking from parking or such before forcing vulnerable road users to detour. 370 could have made a temporary sidewalk at the expense of 2(!) parking spaces. In the case of 370, it renders the crossing guard for CCS completely useless for any kids who need to go to/from school on the south(ish?) side of the street.

Voting closed 0

I live in JP and it amazes me how many people are out without masks just walking with dogs and toddlers, stopping to look in shops' windows, standing outside food places to wait for their takeout food, in the middle of the narrow sidewalks like it's nothing. No masks. Every time I have to go to my corner convenience store to pick up essentials, I have to walk in the street or in the bike lanes.

Voting closed 13

The outdoors and sunshine are such strong factors in fighting viral infections that a 2009 study of the extraordinary success of outdoor hospitals during the 1918 influenza epidemic suggested that during the next pandemic (I guess this one!) we should encourage “the public to spend as much time outdoors as possible,” as a public-health measure.


Voting closed 24

Great news. This will save lives and slow the virus. And keep some of these streets pedestrian only forever so that fewer lives will be taken by criminal drivers.

Voting closed 21

so that fewer lives will be taken by criminal drivers

In these trying times, some people are memorable for their helpfulness and compassion, and some are memorable for their incessant need to be assholes. You're an asshole, Kinopio. Now and forever.

Voting closed 22

You've gotta play the hits.

Voting closed 14

This is good. We just need to ensure that people don't flock to these areas and create crowding like they've been doing at parks. Folks should stay in their own neighborhoods.

Voting closed 0

part of the reason for this specific opening (just expanded sidewalks) is that it's expected people have no great desire to "congregate" in a former parking space alongside Harvard Street.

Voting closed 14

"parking available in the right lane. The existing parking lane will be open for pedestrians, cyclists, scooters and mobility devices."

Uh oh, bad idea.

I hope we get through this without any cyclists getting right-hooked while riding behind parked cars.

Voting closed 0

parking protected bike lanes are considered by most to be a drastic improvement over door-zone bike lanes...

Voting closed 10

I don't see how.

If cyclists can't see right-turning cars, and vice versa, how is it safe to ride there?

Riding in the door zone is a problem. But if there's room for a buffer on the right side of floating parking, there's also room for a buffer on the left side of curbside parking.

And with floating parking, almost all cars park hanging into the buffer, wiping out the safety benefit. Take a look at Mass Ave or Cambridge Street in Cambridge and you'll see a line of tires in the stripes.

I've read the studies, and criticisms of them. The biggest problem is that they lump together different types of facilities, but the media picked up on the parking-protected lanes which are a small minority. The most cited study lumped together 34 miles of parking-protected on-street lanes with 717 miles of paths through parks. See https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214140519305481 , and the study authors' response at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214140519306310

Voting closed 3