Official websites use

A website belongs to an official government organization in the City of Boston.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Last updated:

Boston Brakes

A campaign raising awareness of pedestrians with disabilities.

Boston Brakes is an outreach and education campaign created by the Mayor’s  Commission for Persons with Disabilities. We want to raise awareness of, and increase safety for, pedestrians with disabilities on Boston’s public rights of way.

Pedestrians with disabilities have unique needs when navigating sidewalks, intersections, and mixed-use paths. The goal is to raise awareness among pedestrians that disabled residents and visitors need access to a clear path of travel on:

  • sidewalks and at curb ramps
  • in crosswalks, and
  • to HP-DV accessible parking spaces on city streets.

Changing Infrastructure along the Curb

As Boston moves toward becoming a healthier, greener, more resilient city, traditional uses of sidewalk curb zones have shifted to meet sustainability goals. New elements are being added along the curb. These include bike lanes, outdoor dining, and electric vehicle charging stations. We want to provide opportunities for people in Boston to better understand how to safely navigate this new transportation infrastructure in the city

Boston Brakes aims to alert and educate the public, particularly bicyclists and others using electric mobility devices, about safety in shared spaces in Boston. There are people with various types of disabilities using Boston’s sidewalks, streets, bike lanes, and mixed use paths every day. Disabilities may include:

  • wheeled mobility devices, such as wheelchairs and mobility scooters, and
  • other ambulatory impairments that require the use of a walker or cane.

However, it is especially important to ensure safety for those who have disabilities that are not obvious, such as visual, hearing, sensory, cognitive, and intellectual.

For example, older people and people with mobility impairments may not be able to step aside quickly when a cyclist approaches. People who are blind or have low vision might not see a bicycle or an electric scooter coming toward them. Those who are Deaf or hard of hearing won’t necessarily hear a bell, a horn, or someone calling out a warning to move aside.

We encourage cyclists and all wheeled mobility device users to be ready to "brake" for the other people using shared public spaces in Boston.

Quick Safety Tips

Share the Space

Boston is a diverse city filled with people on the move. Riding your bike is a great way to get around. But, it’s important to remember to share the space with pedestrians. This includes people with disabilities who face unique challenges when navigating Boston. Please be aware and share the space.

White Cane Law

When you see a pedestrian walking with a white cane this indicates that the user is blind or visually impaired. You must come to a complete stop to allow them to safely cross the street.

Bike Parking

When parking your bike, leave at least four feet of space for pedestrians. Never block sidewalks, curb ramps, crosswalks, or accessible parking spaces. Poles that designate accessible parking spaces may not be used to lock your bike.

Obey traffic laws

When cycling through the City, give pedestrians the right of way. Always give an audible signal before overtaking or passing. Be aware, someone who is deaf or hard of hearing will not know you are approaching. Older adults may also not be able to move quickly out of your way. Please always use caution.

Avoid riding on sidewalks

Only ride on sidewalks when necessary for safety and always use bike lanes when they’re available. This will prevent unnecessary conflict with pedestrians.

Yield at curb ramps and crosswalks

When approaching a crosswalk with a curb ramp, always leave the curb cut open for pedestrians. People with disabilities need access to ramps to safely transition off the sidewalk. Those with visual disabilities rely on the yellow bumpy surface to know they are about to leave the sidewalk. They feel the surface with their cane or feet  or their service dog does!  so they know to stop until it’s safe to cross.

Support from City Leadership

Mayor Michelle Wu understands that to be a more sustainable, healthy, and inclusive city, we must ensure that everyone can navigate our streets and sidewalks safely. She stated, “As our city continues to grow, we are launching the Boston Brakes campaign to ensure our streets are safe for everyone. We will continue to center pedestrians with disabilities in both the design of our infrastructure and how we interact with each other on public rights of way.”

Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge is committed to ensuring that the needs of people with disabilities are prioritized in order to make Boston a more inclusive place to live, work, and visit. His collaboration with the Disabilities Commission will be recognized at ADA Day 2023.

Disability Commissioner KristenMcCosh said, “This campaign aims to make sure that everyone is keeping an eye out for others and is ready to brake to keep people safe. Whether you trek Boston streets on wheels or feet, accessibility, sustainability, and safety are important to us all."

Creative Consultants

Aliste Marketing, a woman-owned small business, to design media assets for the Boston Brakes campaign. All of the materials they created for this campaign can be found on this page, including graphics, posters, and videos. Please help us spread the word by using and sharing these materials!


Boston Brakes is dedicated to David Vieira, a long-time disability advocate from Hyde Park. After losing most of his vision, David found new ways to navigate the world. He learned how to use a cane to independently travel around the city.

As a disability advocate, David worked hard to raise awareness about pedestrians with disabilities, particularly around safe interactions between bicyclists and pedestrians with disabilities. The Boston Brakes campaign stems from his work on this issue.

Currently, there are about 80,000 Boston residents who identify as having at least one disability, which is about 12% of the city's general population. This figure grows when you add in older adults, people with injuries or temporary disabilities, as well as visitors and tourists.

Back to top