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Bumpy roads ahead: How Boston plans to deploy speed humps to make streets safer

A speed hump on a street. (City of Boston)
A speed hump on a street. (City of Boston)

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The distant prospect of new ferries and gondolas may be in the headlines this week, but we begin today with a return to the streets.

Get ready to see more speed humps around Boston. Mayor Michelle Wu announced a new plan yesterday aimed at making the city’s streets more safe and comfortable for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike. A major pillar of the plan is the installation of about 1,500 new speed humps over the next three years on side streets across the city.

  • Wu told Radio Boston that the city-led plan includes a “major shift” from the city’s old application-based program to a “broader” and “faster” zone-based approach. “In the past, when there have been speed humps kind of sparingly installed, they’ve been on just one street at a time, with a process for community members and residents to petition and talk about that one street,” Wu explained during a subsequent press conference. “But then what we find is that drivers will often just go to the next street over, or a parallel one, and that just pushes the speeding cars somewhere else.”
  • FYI: Speed humps are not the same as the speed bumps you may come across in a parking lot. They’re asphalt mounds that are shorter and longer, and thus can be driven over a little faster — but not too fast. (The max comfortable speed is around 20 mph.)
  • Where they’ll be: Wu’s office says nearly half of the city’s 800 miles of streets could be outfitted with speed humps — and they’ve released a map allowing people to click and see if their street is slated for speed hump installation in 2024 to 2026, or eligible for a future phase. Wu said the city is prioritizing areas with a history of crashes and communities of color, because “according to the numbers, our residents of color experience more traffic-related fatalities.”
  • Where they won’t be: Major roadways and streets with more than two lanes (or MBTA bus routes) won’t be eligible for speed bumps. Side streets that are hilly or curvy also won’t get them.
  • Not just speed bumps: The new “safety surge” plan also calls for updating up 50 traffic lights and 25-30 non-signalized intersections each year to make crossings safer. The changes include crossing islands, extended curbs, crosswalks that give pedestrians a head start and right-on-red bans.

Almost seven years after voters approved a law to legalize recreational marijuana, Massachusetts is overhauling its approach to cannabis cafes. State House News Service reports that the Cannabis Control Commission’s new path forward aims to open bar-like social consumption sites statewide “a little quicker” than the old plan.

  • The old plan started with a pilot program allowing cannabis cafes in 12 communities. But regulators said this would have resulted in extra licensing and bogged down the process for potentially years.
  • The new plan gets rid of the pilot program, shifting to a statewide licensing and regulatory framework. (It’s worth noting that individual cities and towns can still ban cannabis cafes.)
  • What will cannabis cafes look like when they eventually open? Listen to this Radio Boston segment for a look inside.

Boston’s redistricting do-over drama could soon have real citywide impacts. Wu told Radio Boston yesterday that the city will “probably” have to give up in-person early voting in this September’s preliminary City Council elections if a new map isn’t approved by next week. (Mail-in voting would still be available, as required by state law.)

  • Today is technically the deadline for this year’s City Council candidates to file their nomination papers, but the city has sent a home rule petition to the State House to give them another month. “That’s caused, frankly, quite a lot of stress already,” Wu said.

Speaking of elections, residents in 22 communities west of Worcester will soon have to pick a new state senator. That’s because Gov. Maura Healey appointed longtime state Sen. Anne Gobi yesterday as the administration’s new director of rural affairs. The Spencer Democrat’s first day in the newly created position is June 5.

  • The date of the special election is still TBD. It’s up to the Senate to schedule it after Gobi — who has represented her purple central Massachusetts district since 2014 — officially resigns.

P.S.— It wasn’t just speed humps and redistricting yesterday on Radio Boston. You can listen to Wu’s full, wide-ranging interview — which also touched on housing, Pride in Boston and calls for City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo to resign — on our website or the WBUR app.


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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