Mayor Michelle Wu speaks during a press conference on street safety at the Thetford Evans Playground on Monday in Mattapan. (Nancy Lane/Boston Herald) May 22, 2023
With drivers speeding down side streets in city neighborhoods and fatal pedestrian crashes rising across Massachusetts, Boston will soon install more speed humps and add more “No Turn on Red” intersections in the hopes of making streets safer.
Mayor Michelle Wu on Monday announced the city’s “Safety Surge,” a street safety program designed to curb speeding, reduce crashes, and make neighborhoods safer for walking, biking, and driving.
As part of the Safety Surge, the city will build 10 speed hump zones each year. Speed humps encourage driving at speeds of no more than 20 to 25 miles per hour.
“As more and more speeding cars are cutting through our residential side streets, even front yards on a previously quiet neighborhood residential street are now quite scary for parents,” Wu said at a Monday press conference in Mattapan.
“In many cases, kids are no longer able to play outside in the front yard,” she added.
Fatal pedestrian crashes across Massachusetts increased by 35% between 2021 and 2022, according to a report released in March.
While serious crashes in Boston are down, nearly 3,300 crashes occurred in Boston last year resulting in eight fatalities, according to data from Boston Emergency Medical Services and the Boston Police Department.
A recent analysis conducted by Boston EMS and MIT researchers showed that a child is struck by a car while walking or biking once every four days in Boston.
“I hear the frustration in the voice of people who tell me they’re tired,” said Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge. “They’re tired of worrying about their kids’ bike ride to school or their parents’ trip to the corner store.”
The zones for the new speed humps will be prioritized based on crash history and demographic information. Major roads with MBTA bus routes are not appropriate for speed humps, and will not be included in this program.
As part of the Safety Surge, the city will also design 25 to 30 safer intersections each year. Officials said they will use street safety tools that will lead to better sightlines, slower speeds, clearer crossings, and defined spaces for all road users.
The city will also increase the use of “No Turn on Red” regulations and signage in high pedestrian locations. “No Turn on Red” in particular will be used in downtown and neighborhood business districts, when crossing shared use paths or separated bike lanes, and near schools, senior centers, parks, libraries, mass transit stations, and hospitals.
Wu said, “We want to get ahead of the dangerous incidents that hopefully we can prevent instead of chasing after them once it’s too late, and trying to prevent the next horrible thing.”