Bostonians who take to the streets to enjoy the summer weather can do so from a new vantage point: the middle of the road. The city’s Boston Open Streets summer pilot program kicked off July 10 in Jamaica Plain and saw thousands of participants. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Center Street was closed to vehicles, allowing pedestrians, cyclists and rollerbladers to flood the area.

While programs like Open Newbury Street have been around for several years, car-free initiatives in Jamaica Plain, Roxbury and Dorchester aim to increase access to city-sponsored events for communities of color.

“If we can do it in Back Bay and Newbury Street, why can’t we do it in every other neighborhood?” said Shana Bryant, lead event organizer. “We all deserve to have these opportunities to play outside, be outside and enjoy our streets.”

Attendees showed enthusiasm after the first event in Jamaica Plain, Bryant said, and requested Open Streets events each month or weekend.

“I would like the city to figure out how to share the wealth more regularly and do it in other neighborhoods,” she added.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu spoke to reporters, including the Globe, at the Open Streets festival in Center, and said, “We want to make sure everyone has a chance to experience our streets as spaces for people and places where families can have fun and take care.” She also tweeted photos from the event, writing, “When the streets are for people, people come out!”

Three more Open Streets events remain for 2022, inviting attendees of all ages, backgrounds, and mobility levels to explore what each neighborhood has to offer. Bryant shared details on the upcoming lineup, but additional and final information on each event will be available at openstreetsboston.org.

A little girl drove down Center Street in the only type of car allowed during the Boston Open Streets event in Jamaica Plain.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Roxbury: Blue Hill Avenue

August 6, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., between Warren and Dudley streets

The second installment of Open Streets offers something for everyone along a 1.2 mile route. Bryant said this event will focus on celebrating Boston’s many cultures and communities. Businesses along the route will be invited to open their doors to join in the festivities, and local artists, artisans and entrepreneurs from other parts of Boston will be invited to set up stalls and booths along the street. A wide variety of food trucks will be in attendance, along with live performers and resource tables from the City of Boston and area nonprofits offering support and advice on topics such as community health, environmental advocacy, job search and physical fitness. Unique to the Blue Hill Avenue event, there will be a roller skating rink for attendees to enjoy. (A limited number of skates will be available for rent, but attendees are encouraged to bring their own.) Nearby, various fitness classes and activities will be available, including zumba and dance lessons, and a designated entertainment will be devoted to children’s activities.

Dorchester: Dorchester Avenue

September 24, 9am-3pm, between Freeport Street and Gallivan Boulevard

Bryant’s team is working with the Little Saigon Cultural District, as well as local restaurants, shops and community leaders, to transform Fields Corner into a major hub along the 2-mile route. As with previous events, there will be booths run by local businesses, food trucks and live music. The route will also feature several entertainment options, including children’s activity areas, fitness classes, and resource tables that will provide information on city services and opportunities to get involved with the community. According to Bryant, organizers hope the event will resemble a carnival.

Back Bay: Newbury Street

Date TBA, between Berkeley Street and Massachusetts Avenue.

Established in 2016, Boston’s original Open Streets site will return, welcoming visitors to a 0.8-mile stretch through Back Bay. As in the past, attendees can expect to encounter an array of vendors selling clothing, jewelry, art, and homewares. Local restaurants are also open for people to grab a bite to eat while walking, skating or rolling during the festival. The dates for Open Newbury Street have yet to be announced.


Maya Homan can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @MayaHoman.