Some Mass. communities looking to expand walking spaces to help social distancing amid COVID-19

BOSTON — As Massachusetts begins to reopen, many cities and towns realize they are going to have to reconfigure areas to create more space so people can stay a safe distance apart.

Boston City Councilors Michelle Wu and Liz Breadon hosted a hearing for safe streets during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We really have to rethink what are the protections we can put in place so there will be enough distancing,” Wu told Boston 25 News. “There are different approaches for different neighborhoods. There are some areas where we should talk about closing down the street and making it a pedestrian walkway.”

Chris Dempsey, the director of transportation for Massachusetts, said we should also focus these efforts on neighborhood streets.

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"Places where people want to get out a little bit more, get more fresh air, get to the grocery store, talk to a neighbor without feeling like they are scrunched on the sidewalk," Dempsey said.

Brookline has already shut down some stretches of street parking and expanded the sidewalks into those areas.

"In Brookline they have actually taken more space for walking to the grocery store or walk to health care appointments on some of their major streets," Dempsey said.

Cambridge is also working with its expert advisory panel about future considerations.

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