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Downtown Crossing: Auto Restricted Zone in Boston
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Downtown Crossing:  Auto Restricted Zone in Boston
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    NTL-PLANNING AND POLICY-Transit Planning and Policy
  • Abstract:
    The Downtown Crossing auto restricted zone, implemented in 1978, involved the elimination of all auto traffic froma zone of twelve blocks encompassing six different streets in Bostn's central business district. Some of the blocks were pedestrian-only zones, some were originally a transitway and later converted to a pedestrain-only zone, and some remained open only for taxi access. A series of physical improvements, including bricking of the streets and the placement of benches, new lighting and information kiosks, was completed in 1979. Additional aspects of the project included the extension of local bus routes to better serve the auto restricted zone, and extensive promotion activities. The evaluation report examines conditions before, during, and after construction of the Downtown Crossing zone, including organizational arrangements and impacts on traffic movement, transit ridership, goods deliveries, pedestrian movement, air and noise quality, shopper behavior, and business conditions. The study found that pedestrian activity and store purchases increased following the closing of the streets, although most of the increase was attributable to midday trips by the large number of office works nearby. There were also clear shifts from auto to transit as a mode of travel for both area employees and other shoppers. Expected increases in traffic congestion on nearby streets did not occur; in fact, there was a decrease in overall traffic volumes in the area due to both the mode shift among area visitors and the diversion of some traffic to streets much further away. Both businesses and pedestrians felt the program was helpful in improving downtown conditions.
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