On two upcoming Sundays, traffic will be shut down and parking restricted along one-and-a-half-mile stretches of two busy Boston roadways as part of a yearly initiative that aims to promote healthy, car-free activities and to unite neighbors with area parks.
On July 14, the second annual “Circle the City” will create a car-free corridor along the outbound side of Huntington Avenue, or Route 9, between Belvidere Street and Brigham Circle (Map). The event will cut through or border parts of Mission Hill, the Fenway, Roxbury, the South End and Back Bay.
On Sept. 29, a car-free corridor will be set up along Blue Hill Avenue, between Columbia Road and Dudley Street (Map). The event will cut through or border parts of Roxbury and Dorchester.
The open-streets initiative, sponsored by the City of Boston and a host of local organizations, invites residents and visitors “to reclaim their streets,” which will be temporarily transformed into “paved parks” with a “festival-like atmosphere,” featuring live music and performances, fitness clinics, biking and walking tours, children’s games, hula hooping, roller skating, yoga, aerobics, farmers’ markets, art activities, live music and dance classes.
On both dates, programming will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The events are free to attend.
“I hope our residents will take advantage of the opportunity to walk, bike, skate and play together on car-free streets,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement.
Last summer, the three “Circle the City” events were held. The first at Franklin Park, did not involve street closures. The other two did and were held in Jamaica Plain and along the Rose Kennedy Greenway in downtown Boston. An estimated 6,500 people attended.
“I’m looking forward to a second year of transforming our streets for Boston residents to get out and get active,” Menino added. “Open streets on Huntington and Blue Hill Avenues brings this great, free program to new neighborhoods.
Organizers said cross traffic will be allowed at a “limited number” of points along the stretch of closed roadway. The events are planned “to ensure that people have alternative travel routes,” organizers said.
“Our dates have been researched to account for conflicts with other large Boston events. We are doing our best to meet with neighborhood and business representatives to encourage engagement and ensure all are informed,” organizers said. “Traffic will be monitored so that any traffic impacts can be measured.”
A similar list of traffic and parking restrictions for the Sept. 29 event has not yet been released.
“Circle The City is not a parade, nor is it a race,” organizers said. “Rather it is a unique opportunity to safely enjoy the streets and explore new neighborhoods and parks.”
“With ‘Circle The City: Open Streets, Open Parks’ events, Boston joins cities around the world that are creating temporary open space in the heart of urban communities to celebrate the opportunity to get out and active together,” organizers said. “‘Circle The City’ builds community, encourages family fun, supports local business and promotes safe physical activity linking neighborhoods and parks for a healthy, vibrant Boston.”
Partners and sponsors of “Circle the City” include the Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness, the Boston Cyclists Union, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, LivableStreets Alliance, Sustainability Guild International, the Fenway Alliance and the Museum of Fine Arts, the Barr Foundation, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.
Last spring, the America’s Great Outdoors initiative named Circle the City as one of five nationally-selected “2012 Urban Signature Projects,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which, through its New England office, nominated the Boston open streets event for the distinction.