Zany idea du jour, as calls it, comes from Paul Steely White, Executive Director of some organization called Transportation Alternatives.

First, he throws out some interesting statistics – stats about New York City’s driving habits, but relevant to Boston.  For example, according to him, 86% of Manhattan-bound commuters don’t drive into the city by private car (that seems ridiculously high, but let’s trust him on that one).  The only data I could find on Boston says that 31% of commuters use public transportation, meaning, if my math is right, that 69% of commuters drive.  (Boston is #3 in the nation in number of users of public transportation, according to these stats.)  (Which I found on a yogurt manufacturer’s website.)  (Don’t ask.)

Also relevant – in NYC, 22% of all city traffic is for trips less than 1 mile in length.  Very interesting.  Here in Boston, I almost always take the subway or walk if I have to go from South Boston to the South End or Back Bay.  I have to say, though, the past couple of weeks, I’ve driven what must be about 3/4 of a mile to get somewhere, instead of public transportation.  And, I know other people are much, much worse about it.  Especially real estate agents!

So, here’s nis crazy idea.

He suggests that Broadway, the street, in New York City, be turned into a car-free, pedestrian boulevard, accessible only by bicycle and on foot.

Which made me start thinking.

What about Boston?  Should any of our streets go car-free?

Now, first off, you’re thinking, well, that’s stupid.  But, really, would things be worse if roads were to suddenly disappear?  We live in almost a continuous state of gridlock, anyway.  I mean, I was stuck in a traffic jam on Albany Street at 1:30 AM, the other night.  Not fun.

Okay, you say, then how about we try it along the Rose Kennedy Greenway.  Great idea.  I’m sure they considered that, back when they made the original design.  And, I’m sure one (or many more) person(s) said, “Absolutely not”.

There’s always been rumors that Boston University wants to turn Commonwealth Avenue into a pedestrian boulevard, from Kenmore Square all the way up to Brighton Ave (where the road splits, up near the supermarket).  That’d be great.  For students.  For the rest of us?  A nightmare.  For retail owners?  Probably a mess.  I don’t know.

I’m open to ideas.  Any takers?

Original story in today’s The Gothamist, discovered by way of MemeFirst.

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Updated: January 2018