Photos: Open Streets Event in Roxbury Neighborhood

Kenny Uong, who traveled to the event by train early Saturday morning from Providence, Rhode Island, poses with his scooter in front of the large Roxbury sign at the intersection of Dudley Street and Blue Hill Avenue welcoming folks to the Open Streets event. “I really love Open Streets -- it's a really great way to explore the neighborhoods in a car-free way,” said Uong.
Kenny Uong, who traveled to the event by train early Saturday morning from Providence, Rhode Island, poses with his scooter in front of the large Roxbury sign at the intersection of Dudley Street and Blue Hill Avenue welcoming folks to the Open Streets event. “I really love Open Streets -- it's a really great way to explore the neighborhoods in a car-free way,” said Uong.

This past Saturday, the City of Boston hosted its second Open Streets event in the neighborhood of Roxbury along a stretch of Blue Hill Avenue from Warren Street to Dudley Street. The event temporarily closed off a section of Blue Hill Avenue to traffic and opened it to families, people on bikes, and anyone else who would like to walk or roll without having to worry about cars. Despite the high temperatures, some folks braved the heat to partake in the day’s festivities which included live music, food trucks, and even parades. 

Chelsea Jones and her partner Janessa who recently moved to Boston from Atlanta, Georgia, came to the festival in an effort to get to know more about their new community and its culture. “We’re actually over in East Boston, but have heard lots (about) the progress, and the beauty of this community and wanted to know more,” said Jones.

Chelsea Jones (left) and Janessa (right) pose together under the shade of an umbrella during a hot Saturday morning at Open Streets Roxbury on Blue Hill Avenue. Janessa shared she likes this kind of programming coming to communities. “We need programming in this area, so I definitely think that it's good because it's kind of like forcing community in a way. It forces the people that are here to create community, come out, go to a vendor, meet people..” she said.
Chelsea Jones (left) and Janessa (right) pose together under the shade of an umbrella during a hot Saturday morning at Open Streets Roxbury on Blue Hill Avenue. Janessa shared she likes this kind of programming coming to communities. “We need programming in this area, so I definitely think that it’s good because it’s kind of like forcing community in a way. It forces the people that are here to create community, come out, go to a vendor, meet people..” she said.

 

An art installation at the intersection of Devon Street and Blue Hill Avenue showcasing a photography series by artist Daniel Irvin, an editorial and commercial photographer.
An art installation at the intersection of Devon Street and Blue Hill Avenue showcasing a photography series by artist Daniel Irvin, an editorial and commercial photographer.

 

Montell Khaldi, Youth Organizer with Bikes Not Bombs, a local nonprofit who aims to use the bicycle as a vehicle for social change, poses alongside two youth apprentices volunteering at Open Streets Roxbury this past Saturday.
Bikes Not Bombs Youth Organizers Montell Khaldi (left) and Abeo Powder (middle) pose alongside a youth apprentice (right) at Open Streets Roxbury this past Saturday.

Montell Khaldi, or as his friends call him, Monty, is a Youth Organizer with Bikes Not Bombs (BNB), a nonprofit based in the Jamaica Plain (JP) neighborhood of Boston whose goal is to use the bicycle as a vehicle for social change to achieve economic mobility for Black and other marginalized people in Boston and the Global South. Khaldi focuses on the nonprofit’s BOCA program (Bicyclists Organizing for Community Action) and works closely with their youth apprentices. 

Khaldi shared he used to live in the Roxbury neighborhood just down the street from where he was now tabling at for BNB. “I love seeing the communities I used to live and work in become more pedestrian friendly. I firmly believe that a better future is possible, so I tell that to people all the time. It just makes me happy to see this. It makes me happy to see community come out, businesses get a bump, all that stuff,” he said. 

StreetsblogMASS asked him what he thought of the lower turnout compared to the sister event held last month in Jamaica Plain, a neighborhood served by bus routes and the Orange Line subway. 

Khaldi expressed frustrations over the lack of transportation options in the Roxbury neighborhood and referenced the upcoming Orange Line shutdown. He also called attention to the overlapping Green line shutdown or as he calls it, the Green Line Extension’s Grand opening and Grand Closing. “I think that’s very unfortunate. I think that may have something to do with it (lower turnout),” he said.

“I think the other piece of it is just demographically speaking, the type of people who live in JP are the type of people who bike a lot — not to say that there aren’t people who do that in Roxbury, but there’s just a different culture, right? I think there hasn’t been enough investment in cycling infrastructure. For example, on the street we’re standing on right now there are no bike paths. So you know, those all play into it,” he added.

TransitMatters, a nonprofit focused on public transportation advocacy in the Boston region, shared information with residents about trip alternatives the MBTA is providing during the upcoming Orange Line closure. Event participants could also test out their map skills and attempt to draw an MBTA subway service map from scratch to win a prize.
TransitMatters, a nonprofit focused on public transportation advocacy in the Boston region, shared information with residents about trip alternatives the MBTA is providing during the upcoming Orange Line closure. Event participants could also test out their map skills and attempt to draw an MBTA subway service map from scratch to win a prize.

 

People walked and played on a stretch of Blue Hill Avenue closed off to car traffic this past Saturday in the Roxbury neighborhood as part of the City of Boston’s Open Streets series initiative. StreetsblogMASS was at the event during the morning portion when the heat index showed 94 degrees just before 11 a.m. Marcia, a Roxbury resident who was at the event accompanying her grandkids said, “the heat is too much, but you gotta stay hydrated. Do what you need to do.”
People walked and played on a stretch of Blue Hill Avenue closed off to car traffic this past Saturday in the Roxbury neighborhood as part of the City of Boston’s Open Streets series initiative. StreetsblogMASS was at the event during the morning portion when the heat index showed 94 degrees just before 11 a.m. Marcia, a Roxbury resident who was at the event accompanying her grandkids said, “the heat is too much, but you gotta stay hydrated. Do what you need to do.” Roxbury is an Environmental Justice community and among the neighborhoods impacted the most during high heat events in Boston.

The third Open Streets event will take place on September 24, along Dorchester Avenue between Freeport Street and Gallivan Boulevard. Learn more about the Open Streets initiative: https://www.openstreetsboston.org/

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