The city of Somerville is thinking outside the lines to help encourage social distancing this summer.
The city has released details on a plan to restrict traffic on several residential roads to make room for pedestrians and cyclists to be able to safely share the road during the coronavirus pandemic.
The project will turn some seven miles of roadway into pedestrian-friendly spaces. The first phase, a 1.7-mile “shared route” in East Somerville, is expected to be completed by the end of May.
“Shared Streets,” as the project has been named, will roll out in more neighborhoods throughout the summer.
“We have been planning this ... as part of our gradual, informed and very careful reopening,” Mayor Joseph Curtatone told the Boston Globe last week.
The city initially announced the plan via Twitter on May 17 as a way to “to create more walking/biking space on residential streets.”
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“Low-volume or residential side-streets” are the focus of the plan, the city said, in an attempt to interrupt traffic flow as little as possible. Parking on the streets will not be affected.
“We anticipate having a citywide network so that every Somerville neighborhood has the same benefit, and the same access,” said Brad Rawson, Somerville's director of mobility. “That’s the vision and the plan.”
Other Boston-area neighborhoods have been thinking along similar lines. Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh suggested the city was exploring redesign some roads, while Brookline temporarily changed patterns on four roads to improve ease of access.