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Making Neighborhood Streets Safer

A simple tool like a speed hump reduces car speeds and creates a more comfortable environment for those that live, walk, and bike in our neighborhoods. We are working to deliver these tools in more neighborhoods, more quickly.

Speed humps are a primary tool to address traffic speeds and make our neighborhoods more comfortable for people who live, walk, bike, and play there. We plan to install up to 500 speed humps on an annual basis. That’s between 40 and 50 miles of traffic-calmed streets each year!

Speed humps in the City of Boston

Boston’s speed humps are not like the speed bumps you may encounter in a parking lot. 

Speed humps are gradual mounds of asphalt built into the pavement. They are about 3 inches high and between 12 and 14 feet long. Speed humps are comfortable to drive over at 20 miles per hour or less. 

We paint white triangles on the street and install yellow “Speed Hump” signs so drivers are aware.

Example of a Speed Hump in Boston

Speed humps are only used on smaller neighborhood streets. They are not appropriate for wider, busier streets or for streets with MBTA bus routes. 

We always build speed humps in a series. On any given street, drivers will encounter a speed hump every 150 to 250 feet. Because they can see the next speed hump ahead, people are more likely to drive a consistent, slower speed. 

We build speed humps on a group of streets at once. This prevents drivers from simply taking a street one block further away to avoid speed humps.

Speed humps do not impede street sweeping, snow plowing, or street parking.

Speed humps on your street

In 2023, we launched a new approach to planning, designing, and building speed humps. Instead of asking residents to nominate their street for traffic-calming, we will work proactively to add speed humps on all eligible streets, in every neighborhood. 

Over the next three years, we will be working to design and build speed humps in many neighborhoods of Boston. The below map shows where we have built speed humps, where we are currently designing speed humps, and where you can expect to see speed humps in the next few years. Our new program will add nearly 100 miles of streets with speed humps.


You can use this map to find out if your street will be studied for speed humps in the next three years. Type your address into the search bar, then click on your street.

Search for streets eligible for speed humps

Common Questions

Questions

Speed humps will be designed and installed according to the schedule on this map. You do not need to apply for them or submit a petition. While we aim to provide speed humps on all eligible streets, some streets that are hilly or curvy will not get speed humps. Streets with more than two lanes, major roadways, and streets with MBTA bus routes will also not be eligible for speed humps.

We plan to design and build speed humps in about ten areas each year for the next three years. This is approximately 500 speed humps per year. We will install speed humps on streets in every Council district.

You will receive information by mail when your neighborhood’s streets are being considered for speed humps. You will also hear from the City ahead of construction.

Speed humps are a standard tool for safety on our streets. In order to deliver these tools more quickly and in more neighborhoods, we will not be able to host or attend community meetings about their design. Residents will be notified when their street is being considered for speed humps and ahead of construction. Information will also be available on this website.

The City of Boston has installed speed humps on streets in Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, and South Boston. This map shows where speed humps have been built so far and where they will be built this year.

Drivers traveling will encounter a speed hump approximately every 150 feet to 350 feet. If they travel at appropriate speeds, they will be able to comfortably traverse the speed humps. Because speed humps are more gradual than speed bumps, cars will not “bottom out” or cause excessive noise. Speed humps do not interfere with on-street parking.

Our speed humps are designed to be relatively comfortable to traverse while riding a bike. They use a sinusoidal curve and are built into the subsurface of the street. This makes for a smoother ride up and down than you may find with speed bumps in parking lots.

Speed humps do not prevent plows from clearing our streets. Maps of streets with speed humps are shared with our team in Public Works and their contractors. In the case of a snow event, the yellow “speed hump” signs provide advance notice to the plow drivers to lift their blades slightly.

Streets eligible for speed humps are typically smaller, neighborhood streets and not streets primarily used for emergency response.  Emergency vehicles are able to maneuver speed humps placed on neighborhood streets to reach their destination effectively.

In May 2023, the City of Boston adopted a new Speed Hump Policy and Design Directive. This document builds on our earlier policies for traffic-calming and pedestrian safety. It incorporates national best practices as well as what we have learned works best for Boston.

You can also view our typical design detail for speed humps.

We are using a data-driven approach to prioritizing neighborhoods for speed humps.

This means we can start with the places and people most likely to benefit from the program.

Every zone was analyzed using the most recent and accurate data. For crash history, we looked at  crashes resulting in response from Boston EMS  between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2022. Our source for demographic data is the  U.S. Census Bureau's 5-year American Community Survey , analyzed at the block group level.

To understand safety on these streets in the past five years, we looked at crashes that resulted in a call to Boston EMS . We counted how many crashes happened on the streets in each zone. Then, we divided the total number of crashes by the number of miles of eligible streets in that zone.

We know that some people are more likely to be seriously injured or killed in a car crash:  younger people, our elders , and  our neighbors with disabilities . We used information from the U.S. Census to approximate how many of these more vulnerable people lived in each group of streets. 

Past investments in Boston’s streets weren’t made equitably. To make sure we are providing safety benefits to all of our residents, we looked at race and ethnicity data from the U.S. Research also tells us that drivers are  less likely to yield to Black pedestrians  than to white. Census. In addition, we looked at where more of our neighbors live in poverty.

Finally, we looked at the number of households without access to a vehicle. These neighbors are likely walking to and from public transportation or walking and biking for their trips. Because they are not traveling in a car, they are more exposed to potential injury in a crash.

With all of this data summarized for each proposed zone of speed humps, we then applied the following weighting criteria:

  • Crash frequency: 20%
  • Percent of population aged 65 and older: 20%
  • Percent of households with children: 20%
  • Percent of households with people with disabilities: 20%
  • Percent of population that do not identify as white: 10%
  • Percent of population at or below poverty level: 5%
  • Percent of households without access to a vehicle: 5%

To ensure geographic diversity, we identified the top-scoring zones in each of Boston's nine City Council Districts. These will be the next streets we consider for speed humps. 

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