Commonwealth Avenue


The City of Boston has committed to completely reimagine Commonwealth Avenue (Comm Ave), a victory for advocates who have pushed for years to make our city safer for all. The new design is a major step forward for the city and the 100,000 people who use Comm Ave every day.

Stage 2 of the Commonwealth Avenue bridge replacement project was completed in August 2017. Construction crews are currently carrying out utility relocation and signal work for Stage 3.

Members of our advocacy committee have been in discussion with MassDOT to improve safety around the Comm Ave overpass under construction by BU. Given how many people walk on Comm Ave today, we are very glad to see MassDOT responding to make the following improvements:

  • The pedestrian signals have been adjusted so that people have enough time to get fully across Comm Ave, and the walk/flashing don't walk phases should last as long as the concurrent green for traffic in all cases.
  • Adjustments have been made to the No Turn On Red signs to make it clearer and safer for everyone.

Why Comm Ave?Comm_Ave_2013-08-31-SUSTAIN-1611b_(2)-thumbnail.jpg
  • Commonwealth Avenue is a major east-west artery running through the heart of the Boston University campus and serving people who walk, bike, use transit, and drive.
  • Bike use has increased 135% since 2007, pedestrian volumes have increased 80% since 2001, and car volumes have decreased as much as 31% since 1987 in the project area. (Source: Boston University Master Plan, sections 8.5.1-8.5.6).

Many people who bike at home and come from smaller towns are very afraid to ride their bike in Boston. One of the great benefits of having these bike lanes is that they will increase ridership and people will feel a lot more comfortable biking.”

- David Miller, BU Bikes | The Daily Free Press

Why Now?Why_Now_(Comm_Ave).jpg
  • In 2013, a total of $17 million in local, state, and federal funding became available for the reconstruction of Comm Ave. The city proposed a design that would narrow sidewalks to offer more space for the Green Line tracks and wider travel lanes to be shared by people using cars and bikes.
  • LivableStreets had been focused on Comm Ave for nearly a decade when the city turned its attention to the street. By uniting partner advocacy organizations and the public, ad by educating key decision makers, we helped win a design that includes protected bike lanes, raised crosswalks, improved bus stops, and transit signal priority for the Green Line and #57 bus.

“The process has been a great lesson on how fast the era of cycling has grown. There are many trade-offs when you do this kind of redesign, and you want to be careful you’re not asking too much of drivers, delivery trucks, and other traditional users of the same roadway. But with so many bicycles now, the highest priority is safety.”

- James Gillooly, Boston Transportation Department Interim Commissioner | Boston Globe

What's Happening?


March 2015
A New Vision

The City of Boston unveils its updated plan for Comm Ave, which now includes protected bike lanes, raised crosswalks, improved bus stops, and transit signal priority for the Green Line and 57 bus.

December 2014
The Perfect Storm

When the city fails to hold a timely public meeting, we help BU students take matters into their own hands. Despite a nor'easter, over 150 people attend the open community meeting to give personal testimony with BTD Commissioner Gillooly and BU officials in the audience.

August 2014
The Ride

Our Executive Director Jackie Douglas takes Boston Transportation Commissioner James Gillooly on a Comm Ave bike ride to highlight safety problems.

Summer 2014
Street Stories

We quickly activate our Street Ambassadors, volunteers trained to collect signatures and stories on the street. Our ambassadors collect over 2,000 signatures urging the City of Boston to change course on its plans for Comm Ave.

Spring 2014
Coalition Building

Joining forces with Boston Cyclists Union, WalkBoston, Mass Bike and BU Bikes, LivableStreets launches the Safer Comm Ave campaign.

Capital Funding

$17 million in local, state, and federal funding becomes available for the reconstruction of Comm Ave. The city proposes a design that will narrow sidewalks to offer more space for the Green Line tracks and wider travel lanes to be shared by people using cars and bikes.

The First Mile

Boston's first bike lane, from Kenmore to the BU Bridge, is installed.


What's Next?

The Comm Ave Improvement Project consists of 4 phases. Construction has been completed for Phase 1, and the groundbreaking ceremony for Phase 2 was held in October 2016 — great progress, but our work is far from over!

View photos from the Phase 2 Groundbreaking ceremony here.

View the 4 phases on Google maps here.

Phase 1 (Kenmore Square to BU Bridge) - Completed 2015

Phase 2A (BU Bridge to Alcorn Street) - Approved for construction 2017

Phase 2B (I-90 Overpass, BU Bridge Intersection) - Design phase

Phase 3, 4 (Packard’s Corner to Warren Streets) - Design phase

What You Can Dostreet_ambassador.jpg

Join the conversation: Attend a LivableStreets Advocacy Committee meeting.

Volunteer: Join us in spreading the word about the importance of safe and livable streets. Our volunteers are actively involved in all of our events and programming, including our Street Ambassadors program.

Stand up and be counted: Attend a public meeting. See LivableStreets calendar — it's updated daily!

Become a member: Join the growing community of people invested in creating safe streets and livable communities. Become a member of LivableStreets today!

What’s your favorite part of Comm Ave?