Somerville, MA

Level: gold
Population: 78,804
Population Density: 18,762/sq. mi.
Pedestrian Plan
Contact: Justin Schreiber

Community Highlights

Somerville is designated as a Gold-level community due to its high mode share for walking, biking, and transit; progressive planning efforts; pedestrian-friendly roadway design practices; and education and encouragement programs. Community highlights include:

  • The City reduced citywide speed limits to 25 mph, unless otherwise posted, and designated 65 safety zones with 20 mph speed limits near schools, parks, playgrounds and some neighborhoods.
  • The City’s Vision Zero Action Plan establishes priorities for road safety improvements and identifies High Crash Corridors, High Crash Intersections, and Communities of Concern to inform its deployment of safety projects.
  • In addition to its Bicycle Committee, the City now has a Pedestrian and Transit Advisory Committee to ensure that multimodal transportation issues are fully addressed by City initiatives and activities.
  • Somerville has an excellent mode split for walking, biking, AND transit! Fewer than 50% of workers commute by driving alone and the 30% of commuters who travel by transit are likely to walk for some part of their commute trip. The city has a mode share goal of 50% of trips via walk/bike/transit by 2030.
  • Active transportation goals and activities are captured well in the Comprehensive Plan, while project prioritization and tracking are captured in the city’s SafeSTART reports. Many of the community’s planning objectives are implemented through Somerville’s neighborhood planning and design efforts, Somerville by Design, which follows a public engagement model best described as: “Outreach-Dialogue-Decide-Implement.”
  • A Complete Streets policy and ADA self-evaluation that serve as models for other communities.
  • Somerville has ongoing Safe Routes to School programs at all eight elementary and middle schools. Partners such as Shape Up Somerville, Somerville Public Schools, Somerville Bicycle Commission, WalkBoston, and Massachusetts DOT come together to do annual walk and bike audits to understand common walking routes, evaluate crossing guard placement, and assess structural and environmental needs for improved walk and bike safety.
  • SomerStreets open streets events, Walk Ride Days, and the Mayor’s fitness challenge are ongoing encouragement efforts that get Somerville residents out and walking!
  • Somerville prioritizes pedestrian safety and comfort at crossings by using right-turn-on-red restrictions as most intersections, high-visibility thermoplastic crosswalk markings, and in-road yield signs. The city also regularly maintains crosswalks and routinely issues citations for cars that obstruct sidewalks, curb ramps, or crosswalks.