Breaking down the Copley Connect findings

Here’s what a recent analysis had to say about the future of Dartmouth Street.

Pop up plaza outside Central Library in Boston

Allow us to reminisce about car-free streets on summer days.

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Could these streets be made for walking? The Boston Planning & Development Agency and Boston Transportation Department recently released findings + feedback from this summer’s Copley Connect program. Spoiler alert: It’s good news for pedestrians.

⤵️ In case you missed it

For 10 days in June 2022, the city closed a portion of Dartmouth Street (where the Central Library + Copley Square connect) to non-emergency vehicles.

The space was re-imagined as a pedestrian paradise with community programming like cafe seating, block parties, and outdoor yoga.

📊 Breaking down the findings

Community stakeholders met with project staff over the summer, and a public engagement campaign resulted in 1000+ responses. Here’s what Bostonians had to say:

  • 62% of respondents were frequent users of Copley Square, on both a daily + weekly basis.
  • 72% of people has a very positive opinion about transforming the street into a car-free public pedestrian space.
  • Most respondents said they were highly likely to visit Dartmouth Street if it became a permanent public pedestrian space.
Survey graph showing feedback to making Dartmouth Street a public pedestrian space

Bostonians have spoken, and they want a new future for Dartmouth Street.

The project analysis also considered specific traffic data and time impacts along Berkeley Street, Massachusetts Avenue, and other connected streets.

Overall, the study found that drive times remained more or less the same as usual, though drivers experienced a ~40-second delay during rush hour.

👟 The next steps

Following the pilot program, transportation planners will study more permanent improvements to the street.

The project team is already pitching measures that could help lessen the impacts on driving time, from providing more northbound travel options to improving the existing bike lane.

In the meantime, Copley Square Park and the Central Library are also getting fresh new looks. Learn more about design plans for the Back Bay park + the library’s McKim building.

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