Poll: Metro Boston Voters Strongly Support Reconfigured Streets With Fewer Cars, More Public Space

On-street dining in Hanover Street in the North End, pictured in the mid-afternoon of May 26, 2021.
On-street dining in Hanover Street in the North End, pictured in the mid-afternoon of May 26, 2021.

A new poll of Boston-area voters finds strong support for more diverse uses of the public space on city streets, with a desire for more space for outdoor dining, expanded sidewalks, dedicated bus lanes, and protected bike lanes, and less space dedicated for privately-owned motor vehicles.

Over the past year, cities in towns across Massachusetts reconfigured public streets to provide more outdoor dining areas, bus lanes, protected bike lanes, and other public spaces to facilitate outdoor physical distancing during the pandemic.

Now, as the public health threat recedes, many of those changes remain popular, and look likely to remain.

Pollsters for MassINC asked 670 registered voters from the Boston area whether they would support more of those changes – and making the tradeoff explicit, the questions specifically asked whether respondents would support such changes “even if it means less space for cars.”

An overwhelming proportion of respondents said yes: 79 percent said they would support more outdoor dining areas, 75 percent said they would support more protected bike lanes, and 67 percent said they would support more dedicated bus lanes to help make transit trips more reliable.

73 percent of poll respondents said that improved public transit was "very important" to the Boston region.
Courtesy of MassINC

Other results from the same poll suggest that voters may support changes to city streets in part because they have little faith in our status-quo transportation system.

42 percent of respondents told pollsters that they expect traffic will soon be just as bad as it was before the pandemic; 32 percent of respondents expect it to be even worse.

The MassINC poll was sponsored by The Barr Foundation, which is also a major financial supporter of StreetsblogMASS.

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