Boston is set to ramp up the number of its streets with speed humps as part of a major new initiative to make the city safer for all, Mayor Michelle Wu announced Monday.
Under the Safety Surge program, the city will no longer place speed bumps on streets where residents ask for them. Instead, officials will begin rolling out the traffic-slowing measure by zone, to prevent speeding drivers from simply shifting a street over.
The program will also begin changing its intersections and changing how traffic signals work — among the changes will be giving pedestrians a green light a few seconds before drivers and preventing drivers from turning right on red at more intersections, officials said.
"We want to make sure our streets are safer for drivers, for cyclists, for pedestrians and everyone who gets around," Wu said at Mattapan's Thetford Evans Playground, in the neighborhood where the city trialed the program.
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Each year, Boston has over 3,000 crashes causing injuries, mostly minor but some fatal, Boston Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge said. Many of those are in underserved communities that need more speed regulation and upgraded safety at intersections for drivers, bikers and pedestrians to share the road -- it's a concern echoed by the city's cyclist union.
"I hear from people in every neighborhood about these experiences and these fears," Franklin-Hodge said. "They talk about the near-misses at an intersection where just a few feet was the difference between something terrifying and something far, far worse."
Nearly half of the city's streets are eligible to have speed humps added under Safety Surge, Franklin-Hodge said.
“We really want to see infrastructure changes," Alex Shames, of the Boston Cyclists Union said. "There’s a lot of research that shows when safety changes are just a sign saying a lower speed limit, that doesn't actually change people’s driving at all. We need physical changes to the street.”
Brenden Kearney with Walk Massachusetts says 435 people lost their lives in traffic crashes last year, including 101 pedestrians.
"This is really about making it safer for everyone on the streets of Boston," Kearney said.
The mayor explained the decision to make these changes so swiftly was driven by data -- specifically neighborhoods with the highest rates of accidents -- but it is a phased plan that will roll out in specific zones and continue to include feedback from everyone.