COVID-19: Mobility Strategy

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Welcome! This page is your resource for how the city is responding to essential mobility and transportation needs during the pandemic.


Now that Shared Streets have been open for a few months, we have a user survey to further understand how the streets are working, how people are using them, and what the future holds for shared streets.

We want to hear from you!

Current Mobility initiatives to help keep residents safe during this time include:

The final stages of Shared Streets are being implemented now (read more below!!)

We have learned a lot from this effort to implement citywide quick-build traffic calming over the summer. We're grateful to all of our dedicated residents who've taken the time to let us know what's working and what could be improved. We know that it's a big challenge to change behavior - drivers are used to using the streets without pedestrians in them, and signs and flex posts did not make everyone feel safe enough to use our streets for walking and biking. Reclaiming our streets to make them safer for low-carbon active transportation is a long-term goal, and we are working everyday to figure out the best way to achieve it.

As fall approaches and traffic starts to return to pre-COVID levels, many residents are still at home most of the day and even if you're walking on the sidewalk, lower traffic volumes and slower speeds will create safer pedestrian conditions on our streets. Our goal is to test out new, quick-build, and low-cost interventions to create streets with less cut-through traffic, slower car speeds, and safe and welcoming conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists. Not only is this a key element of the City's COVID response, it is also central to achieving the goals and actions set out in the Mayor's Vision Zero strategy - committing the City to numerous actions on several fronts aimed at eliminating deaths and serious injuries from our transportation system.

The situation caused by the pandemic changes daily and we want to meet your mobility needs and help you get where you need to go safely and efficiently - everything we're implementing is being put on the ground with a light touch, so that it can be modified to meet the needs of the city.

Read more below for information on these projects and check out the Information section with answers to frequently asked questions. If you don't see your question there, please ask us one here, or email us at transportation@somervillema.gov.

For information on other Mobility Division planning and projects, please refer to the main Mobility Division web page.


Current Updates

Update 9/24/20: Two important updates from the Mobility Division -

  • Some Shared Streets are being decommissioned for the year: Due to the amount of construction traffic in the area of South St., the Shared Streets in this neighborhood were decommissioned (South, Windsor, and Columbia). We’re updating the interactive map, website, and Google maps to reflect these changes.
  • New COVID-response transit initiatives: check out our new website that provides information on the quick-build bus and bike lanes that the City is implementing to further help our residents and the region stay safe and get where they need to go during the pandemic.

Update 9/14/20: At the end of July, the Mobility Division installed the shared street entry treatments throughout the remaining network (Shared Streets and Shared Curbs interactive map). After that, we worked to plan installation of the final shared street segment for this year - Morrison Ave. Morrison was tricky - due to the high traffic volumes, we didn't think entry treatments could be installed without other traffic calming. Therefore, we used Morrison as the first test location for our adjusted traffic calming approach (photos below). Our new approach includes:

  • better signage (10 mph advisory speed limit signs and yield/slow for pedestrian and bicyclist signs), and
  • more vertical traffic calming (more flex posts installed at intersections to slow turning vehicles and create "neck downs" to narrow the street in certain areas so cars have to slow down and yield to oncoming vehicles.




Update 7/28/20: It's been a busy month in Shared Streets world. We've been monitoring the streets (thank you to our volunteers!), listening to residents, planning improvements to shared streets design, and strategizing the rollout of all of the remaining shared streets.

Here are some of the main things to be aware of -

  • The remaining shared streets will be implemented in two parts - First, we'll install the shared street entry treatments (sawhorse pairs with “Local Access Only” and “Shared Street” signs). If everything goes smoothly, we should have a good chunk of this first part of the work completed this week. Second, we'll take a little more time to plan out appropriate traffic calming approaches on each street with flex posts, paint, and signage. This will be completed over the next few weeks. For an overall view of shared streets citywide, refer to the interactive map. We hope that this approach will allow us to implement all of the shared streets sooner.
  • We're testing new approaches to slow cars on shared streets - You may have noticed that the West Somerville shared streets have white flex posts rather than the green traffic cones. We're adapting our approach as we learn what works and what doesn't. While the flex posts stay in place much better than the cones, we're also experimenting with different layouts of flex posts (to create extra turns in the road to help cars slow down) as well as green paint on the streets to help people recognize that they're on a shared street. Last week, we went out to the East Somerville shared streets and implemented these new approaches (see photo below for what these layouts look like). Let us know what you think!

  • We're listening to our community - We've heard from you - our residents and our community - that the operation of shared streets isn't perfect and changing drivers' behavior takes time. Cars continue to drive too fast, and it doesn't feel safe to walk or bike in the streets. We have noticed this too, and we're working to refine our approach to traffic calming on these streets.

Shared streets and the concept of citywide quick-build traffic calming is new to all of us. It is still early in implementation and we realize that drivers will need some time to adjust to shared streets and changes to their travels. Our initial intent with shared streets was to provide more space for people to be outside during the pandemic, make essential trips, and maintain safe physical distance. We've also noticed and heard from residents that speeds have increased during this time of decreased traffic. Now, as traffic is starting to return to pre-COVID levels, many residents are still at home most of the day and even if you're walking on the sidewalk, lower traffic volumes and slower speeds will create safer pedestrian conditions on our streets. Our goal is to test out new, quick-build, and low-cost interventions to create streets with less cut-through traffic, slower car speeds, and safe and welcoming conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Update 6/23/20: Elm Street shared curbs was installed on Monday (6/22) and Phase 2 of shared streets was installed today! Check out the photos, interactive map, and the streets in real life. Let us know what you think. A big shout out to Somerville DPW, Somerville Fire Department and Somerville Police Department for their support prepping and delivering materials, playing a key role in setup, keeping us safe from traffic during setup, and all of their support in these important COVID-19 response efforts!

Update 6/19/20: Check out our volunteer Shared Streets monitoring program. To build-out, keep track of, and evaluate shared streets for essential trip making throughout the city, we need your help! The monitoring program asks volunteers to keep an eye on and collect data about a shared street 2-3 times per week. This helps us understand how the shared streets are working, how people are using them, and how the materials we're using are functioning. If you're interested, please email transportation@somervillema.gov for more information.

Update 6/15/20: We're working on an interactive map of the shared streets and shared curbs that will hopefully make it easier for everyone to zoom in to see more detail about the locations of shared streets and how they connect into your neighborhood. Additionally, we're adding information about the locations of signs and saw horses, so that volunteers who are helping us maintain the shared streets can more easily see how the streets were initially laid out. Let us know what you think!

Update 6/02/20: Phase 1 of Somerville's Shared Streets was installed yesterday! Check it out and let us know what you think! Over the coming days, we will be monitoring the streets, replacing or moving signs as needed, and observing how this new approach is working - input from you is a key part of this! As you'll see, the network is being implemented with sawhorses and cones. These light touch materials will allow us to be flexible and make adjustments as we see how these new shared streets work and when we hear from you.

Update 5/29/20: The Shared Curbs pilot in Union Square was installed this morning. Check out the photos and let us know what you think! The pilot implements extended sidewalks with cones, painted pedestrian symbols on the street, and short-term (15 min.) parallel parking spaces for pick-up/drop-off at local businesses. ADA parking spaces are also maintained in front of these businesses.


Stay In Touch

The most up-to-date general information about the virus, how the city is responding, and resources for residents can be found at SomervilleMA.gov/coronavirus. You can also sign up for city alerts to get general, citywide updates as they are announced.

For other ways to get involved in mobility issues in the city, check out the Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Pedestrian and Transit Advisory Committee.

Welcome! This page is your resource for how the city is responding to essential mobility and transportation needs during the pandemic.


Now that Shared Streets have been open for a few months, we have a user survey to further understand how the streets are working, how people are using them, and what the future holds for shared streets.

We want to hear from you!

Current Mobility initiatives to help keep residents safe during this time include:

The final stages of Shared Streets are being implemented now (read more below!!)

We have learned a lot from this effort to implement citywide quick-build traffic calming over the summer. We're grateful to all of our dedicated residents who've taken the time to let us know what's working and what could be improved. We know that it's a big challenge to change behavior - drivers are used to using the streets without pedestrians in them, and signs and flex posts did not make everyone feel safe enough to use our streets for walking and biking. Reclaiming our streets to make them safer for low-carbon active transportation is a long-term goal, and we are working everyday to figure out the best way to achieve it.

As fall approaches and traffic starts to return to pre-COVID levels, many residents are still at home most of the day and even if you're walking on the sidewalk, lower traffic volumes and slower speeds will create safer pedestrian conditions on our streets. Our goal is to test out new, quick-build, and low-cost interventions to create streets with less cut-through traffic, slower car speeds, and safe and welcoming conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists. Not only is this a key element of the City's COVID response, it is also central to achieving the goals and actions set out in the Mayor's Vision Zero strategy - committing the City to numerous actions on several fronts aimed at eliminating deaths and serious injuries from our transportation system.

The situation caused by the pandemic changes daily and we want to meet your mobility needs and help you get where you need to go safely and efficiently - everything we're implementing is being put on the ground with a light touch, so that it can be modified to meet the needs of the city.

Read more below for information on these projects and check out the Information section with answers to frequently asked questions. If you don't see your question there, please ask us one here, or email us at transportation@somervillema.gov.

For information on other Mobility Division planning and projects, please refer to the main Mobility Division web page.


Current Updates

Update 9/24/20: Two important updates from the Mobility Division -

  • Some Shared Streets are being decommissioned for the year: Due to the amount of construction traffic in the area of South St., the Shared Streets in this neighborhood were decommissioned (South, Windsor, and Columbia). We’re updating the interactive map, website, and Google maps to reflect these changes.
  • New COVID-response transit initiatives: check out our new website that provides information on the quick-build bus and bike lanes that the City is implementing to further help our residents and the region stay safe and get where they need to go during the pandemic.

Update 9/14/20: At the end of July, the Mobility Division installed the shared street entry treatments throughout the remaining network (Shared Streets and Shared Curbs interactive map). After that, we worked to plan installation of the final shared street segment for this year - Morrison Ave. Morrison was tricky - due to the high traffic volumes, we didn't think entry treatments could be installed without other traffic calming. Therefore, we used Morrison as the first test location for our adjusted traffic calming approach (photos below). Our new approach includes:

  • better signage (10 mph advisory speed limit signs and yield/slow for pedestrian and bicyclist signs), and
  • more vertical traffic calming (more flex posts installed at intersections to slow turning vehicles and create "neck downs" to narrow the street in certain areas so cars have to slow down and yield to oncoming vehicles.




Update 7/28/20: It's been a busy month in Shared Streets world. We've been monitoring the streets (thank you to our volunteers!), listening to residents, planning improvements to shared streets design, and strategizing the rollout of all of the remaining shared streets.

Here are some of the main things to be aware of -

  • The remaining shared streets will be implemented in two parts - First, we'll install the shared street entry treatments (sawhorse pairs with “Local Access Only” and “Shared Street” signs). If everything goes smoothly, we should have a good chunk of this first part of the work completed this week. Second, we'll take a little more time to plan out appropriate traffic calming approaches on each street with flex posts, paint, and signage. This will be completed over the next few weeks. For an overall view of shared streets citywide, refer to the interactive map. We hope that this approach will allow us to implement all of the shared streets sooner.
  • We're testing new approaches to slow cars on shared streets - You may have noticed that the West Somerville shared streets have white flex posts rather than the green traffic cones. We're adapting our approach as we learn what works and what doesn't. While the flex posts stay in place much better than the cones, we're also experimenting with different layouts of flex posts (to create extra turns in the road to help cars slow down) as well as green paint on the streets to help people recognize that they're on a shared street. Last week, we went out to the East Somerville shared streets and implemented these new approaches (see photo below for what these layouts look like). Let us know what you think!

  • We're listening to our community - We've heard from you - our residents and our community - that the operation of shared streets isn't perfect and changing drivers' behavior takes time. Cars continue to drive too fast, and it doesn't feel safe to walk or bike in the streets. We have noticed this too, and we're working to refine our approach to traffic calming on these streets.

Shared streets and the concept of citywide quick-build traffic calming is new to all of us. It is still early in implementation and we realize that drivers will need some time to adjust to shared streets and changes to their travels. Our initial intent with shared streets was to provide more space for people to be outside during the pandemic, make essential trips, and maintain safe physical distance. We've also noticed and heard from residents that speeds have increased during this time of decreased traffic. Now, as traffic is starting to return to pre-COVID levels, many residents are still at home most of the day and even if you're walking on the sidewalk, lower traffic volumes and slower speeds will create safer pedestrian conditions on our streets. Our goal is to test out new, quick-build, and low-cost interventions to create streets with less cut-through traffic, slower car speeds, and safe and welcoming conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Update 6/23/20: Elm Street shared curbs was installed on Monday (6/22) and Phase 2 of shared streets was installed today! Check out the photos, interactive map, and the streets in real life. Let us know what you think. A big shout out to Somerville DPW, Somerville Fire Department and Somerville Police Department for their support prepping and delivering materials, playing a key role in setup, keeping us safe from traffic during setup, and all of their support in these important COVID-19 response efforts!

Update 6/19/20: Check out our volunteer Shared Streets monitoring program. To build-out, keep track of, and evaluate shared streets for essential trip making throughout the city, we need your help! The monitoring program asks volunteers to keep an eye on and collect data about a shared street 2-3 times per week. This helps us understand how the shared streets are working, how people are using them, and how the materials we're using are functioning. If you're interested, please email transportation@somervillema.gov for more information.

Update 6/15/20: We're working on an interactive map of the shared streets and shared curbs that will hopefully make it easier for everyone to zoom in to see more detail about the locations of shared streets and how they connect into your neighborhood. Additionally, we're adding information about the locations of signs and saw horses, so that volunteers who are helping us maintain the shared streets can more easily see how the streets were initially laid out. Let us know what you think!

Update 6/02/20: Phase 1 of Somerville's Shared Streets was installed yesterday! Check it out and let us know what you think! Over the coming days, we will be monitoring the streets, replacing or moving signs as needed, and observing how this new approach is working - input from you is a key part of this! As you'll see, the network is being implemented with sawhorses and cones. These light touch materials will allow us to be flexible and make adjustments as we see how these new shared streets work and when we hear from you.

Update 5/29/20: The Shared Curbs pilot in Union Square was installed this morning. Check out the photos and let us know what you think! The pilot implements extended sidewalks with cones, painted pedestrian symbols on the street, and short-term (15 min.) parallel parking spaces for pick-up/drop-off at local businesses. ADA parking spaces are also maintained in front of these businesses.


Stay In Touch

The most up-to-date general information about the virus, how the city is responding, and resources for residents can be found at SomervilleMA.gov/coronavirus. You can also sign up for city alerts to get general, citywide updates as they are announced.

For other ways to get involved in mobility issues in the city, check out the Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Pedestrian and Transit Advisory Committee.

Ask us a question about Mobility's response to COVID-19, we'll do our best to answer!

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    Hi there, I’m a resident of Simpson Ave, and the shared streets program seems to be making things less safe. The amount of cut through traffic hasn’t changed, but with people riding bikes both ways on the street, plus cars swerving to avoid the poles, it’s quite chaotic. I love the idea of the shared streets program, and would love for it to work. I wonder if it would be possible to swap the poles for the temporary speed bumps like the ones used on Paulina? Thanks for your time and consideration!

    Mb asked 3 months ago

    The City and the Mobility Division, specifically, are sympathetic to your concerns and don’t doubt that there is some unsafe driving on this street.

    In relation to the shared streets initiative, our current approach is to engage residents and volunteers and keep track of information and feedback we receive on how the streets are functioning. It is still early in implementation and pedestrians and drivers will need some time to adjust to shared streets and changes to their travels. Shared streets and the concept of quick-build traffic calming throughout the city is new to all of us. I want to assure you that we are keeping track of what we hear and learn, so that we can make adjustments and be responsive as we continue to implement future phases of shared streets. Don't hesitate to be in touch with other observations throughout the summer.

    In relation to other traffic calming approaches, such as speed bumps, at this time, we receive more requests for these types of interventions than we have the necessary resources with which to respond. 

    If you’d like us to do an investigation into Simpson, I would ask that you fill out the traffic calming petition form found here. This form requires the signatures of residents of 9 other households along your section of Simpson, which helps us ensure that there is reasonable buy-in for traffic calming from the neighborhood. Once you’ve filled out the form and have acquired the minimum number of signatures, we will do a full analysis of the area in question to determine where it ranks compared to other streets that have submitted petitions. If it turns out that speeding is particularly bad or there have been multiple crashes resulting in injury, we will prioritize devoting some of those limited resources to improving Simpson. If you’d like to learn a little more about the City’s program, follow this link.

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    It's been two weeks now. Can you provide an update on lessons learned from phase one and how long we'll have to wait for full implementation?

    James asked 3 months ago

    Thanks for the question. We are planning on deploying the second part of Shared Streets in West Somerville on Tuesday, June 23. Based on feedback, volunteer monitors, and our own observations, we are making some adjustments to the materials that we use. We plan to take another week or so to evaluate how phase 2 is functioning and how any changes in materials or layout are working. Overall, our goal is to be able to deploy subsequent phases every 1 - 2 weeks. While this is our goal, it is important to realize that accomplishing it is dependent on a number of factors that have the potential to affect this timeline. 

    We are collecting feedback in several formats through this website, and will post updates on the types of comments and questions we're receiving. We also launched a volunteer monitor program where residents are helping us keep track of how Shared Streets materials are holding up and how the streets are functioning. We would love help, so if you're interested, please check out this sign-up form.

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    As a Somerville excise tax payer owning two vehicles, what are you doing to provide me value in paying for streets and sidewalks with my tax money? After all, the safest means of travel, currently, is in an enclosed vehicle with filtered air. If 75% of Somerville utilizes at least one vehicle, what are you doing for these individuals, especially in light of the taxes they pay that are not paid by "walkers" or "bikers?"

    bigdiggie asked 4 months ago

    As construction restarts in the city, the Mobility Division and the Engineering Department are working together to continue to maintain the city's streets. You can find more information about the city's pavement management program and resurfacing projects online.  

    In terms of the shared streets changes being implemented in response to COVID-19, streets that are designated as "shared" will remain open to vehicle traffic that needs to access those roads. No streets are proposed to be closed to cars. 

    The shared streets initiative aims to provide some expanded pedestrian space in all wards throughout the city for people who do rely on walking to make essential trips to grocery stores, medical appointments, etc. About 25% of households in the city do not have access to a vehicle for these essential trips, so the idea is to make sure people can still be out walking and have enough space to maintain 6 feet of distance during the pandemic.

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    Thank you for coming up with a shared street map. I was surprised to see that the prospect Hill area had been "skipped". With all the cut through traffic, and the park and playground closed, I think it is important that you consider identifying streets as shared. Thinking of Boston, Munroe, Prospect Hill parkway. Thank you for all your efforts.

    DS asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for this feedback. This is exactly the type of input that we wanted to generate with the launch of this website and the implementation of phase 1 of the Shared Streets initiative. 

    The current shared street network that is mapped aims to provide some expanded pedestrian space in all wards throughout the city and focuses on making connections to essential locations (grocery stores, Target, schools, food pantries, medical buildings, etc.) on a network of streets that is as low stress as possible. 

    As we continue to test and refine this new approach of shared streets, we want to hear from residents about where additional shared street connections would be helpful. We recognize, especially as summer continues, that there will be more demand for outdoor space and room for walking while maintaining adequate physical distance and we will consider adjustments to the proposed network as well as additions that make sense.  

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    As someone who lives on a "Shared Street" that is often used as a cut-through, how will this be enforced and what will we need as abutters?

    jmh712 asked 4 months ago

    While we've been working on planning the city's mobility strategy in response to COVID-19, we've been closely following what other cities are doing around the country and around the world. Cities that have implemented approaches similar to Somerville's Shared Streets initiative have found that, with the right messaging about the purpose of shared streets, people are using them to safely keep 6 ft of space between themselves and others. We are not seeking to ticket or penalize those who use the shared streets corridors as through streets. We are counting on our high-visibility signage along these streets as well as physical barriers (think signs on sawhorses and traffic cones) to act as familiar cues that encourage through traffic to avoid shared streets.

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    Hi, The sign that you’re using for shared streets is extremely hard to read. Even as a person who is able to read English well, I see it as “shhhhhh red(like the color)” or “shred” streets. The font is going to be even harder for people who have a hard time reading English, including people with disabilities, people who did not have the opportunity to learn to read, and people who do not use English as a primary language.

    ? asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for this feedback; we care about the accessibility of this work - from the messaging to the actual streets and we will consider changes to our messaging as this work is implemented.

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    When will this come into affect? As someone who lives on a "shared street", where will I park? Will I be allowed to have a moving truck on my "Shared street" when I move next month?

    Marla asked 4 months ago

    We are intending to implement Phase 1 (please see map on website) of the Shared Streets Network by the end of this month. Part of the implementation process will be monitoring this first phase, continuing to collect stakeholder feedback, and adjusting our plans as we see what works well/what doesn't work well and continue to implement future phases.  

    Parking will not be affected by the implementation of Shared Streets. the Parking Department will continue enforcing existing parking regulations to ensure safety and visibility, particularly at intersections. This includes not parking within 20 feet of an intersection and 10 feet of a crosswalk. 

    A good way to think about what traffic qualifies to be on a Shared Street is to ask: Is accessing this street necessary to reach your destination? So, moving trucks, delivery trucks, emergency vehicles, etc. that need access to homes on that street or that need access to streets that can only be accessed from your street all fall into this category.  

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    Hi Mobility Team, It's unclear to me what a "connector street" is. Does this just mean that nothing will change on these streets? If so, why is it in red, as opposed to not having any color, like all the other streets where nothing will change? It's misleading to make them a different color because it implies that they're part of a shared street safe route, when they're not, and the route is actually not connected. Let me know if I'm misunderstanding what a connector street is. Thank you, Nate

    nak asked 4 months ago

    Thanks for pointing out the need for clarification. We realize that parts of the map could be improved in order to increase understanding of the intended network, and we will make this clearer. 

    The main motivation behind the Shared Streets Network is to create a way for people to walk to essential locations (grocery stores, Target, schools, food pantries, medical buildings, etc.) on a network of streets that is as low stress as possible and allows people to maintain adequate physical distance from one another.  

    You're correct that connector streets would not have any changes made to them. They were selected to connect sections of the Shared Streets Network throughout the city because they have wider sidewalks where pedestrians should be able to more easily maintain physical distance.  

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    Why will Morrison Ave. be a shared street when the bike path is parallel for pedestrians and bikes? Does "local traffic only" mean abutters, or is it more extended?

    artport@rcn.com asked 4 months ago

    Part of the city's thinking behind the Shared Streets Network is to alleviate pedestrian traffic from current high-use routes, such as the Community Path. Additionally, our aim is to provide more space for people walking to make essential trips throughout the city. Therefore, the initial streets selected as Shared Streets parallel larger arterial streets that connect the city from east to west and north to south.  

    That being said, the proposed Shared Streets Network is not set in stone. We will be monitoring how it works and paying attention to resident feedback as it gets implemented and used, and can make adjustments to specific streets to respond to stakeholder input.