• Councilors: Downtown Boston being overrun with road races

    By: Mike Saccone


    BOSTON - The Boston City Council has agreed to hold a hearing to look at limiting the number of road races on downtown city streets. 

    Councilor Josh Zakim raised the issue during Wednesday’s city council meeting, stating public streets in downtown Boston are being overused for, “parades, road races, 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, national realtor's races, national whatever organization happens to be in town races.” He said the issue is especially troublesome in the Back Bay, Beacon Hill and Fenway neighborhoods. 

    Zakim said the races are often on weekends and in the middle of the day. He said one of the biggest issues is the races aren’t properly advertised, so many residents don’t know when they’re taking place until they encounter the road blocks the day of. He used the Boston Marathon and Walk for Hunger as examples of a properly advertised events. 

    “Everyone knows when the marathon is, everyone is excited about it. People in the neighborhood are excited about the Walk for Hunger, ” Zakim said. “Things that have a long tradition in our community, we welcome and we want to continue to work to enhance.” 

    Zakim said there’s been a rapid increase in road races over the last several years after a moratorium was put in place by the prior administration. He said too many permits for races are now being granted without a review of the impact to residents or even a notice warning residents of the dates. 

    “I hear from folks who can't get their kids to piano lessons, who can't get themselves to doctor’s appointments because the roads are closed and we need to do better on this,” Zakim said. 

    Councilor Michael Flaherty seconded Zakim’s concerns and suggested having designated areas where such events occur. 

    “It always seems to be coming down to one or two neighborhoods that area really bearing the burden for every single event,” Flaherty said. 

    Flaherty did note the importance of these events. 

    “They're for very important and charitable causes, but there is a significant impact to the directly impacted communities,” Flaherty said. “Give some neighborhoods a break. There are other neighborhoods that would absolutely love to host events.”

    Flaherty also said the foot traffic these events bring would be beneficial for businesses along the routes in other neighborhoods. 

    Both councilors said they look forward to having a hearing with the public, transportation department, mayor’s office and police. They’re undecided on whether a legislative solution or policy change is best, but they want to move quickly to find a resolution before spring, when many of the races and permitted.

    Next Up: