Somerville, MA

Level: gold
Population: 78,804
Population Density: 18,762/sq. mi.

Community Highlights

Somerville is designated as a Gold-level community due to its high mode share for walking, biking, and transit; progressive planning efforts; pedestrian-friendly roadway design practices; and education and encouragement programs. Community highlights include:

  • Great mode split for walking, biking, AND transit! Fewer than 50% of workers commute by driving alone and the 30% of commuters who travel by transit are likely to walk for some part of their commute trip. The city has a mode share goal of 50% of trips via walk/bike/transit by 2030.
  • Active transportation goals and activities are captured well in the Comprehensive Plan, while project prioritization and tracking are captured in the city’s SafeSTART reports. Many of the community’s planning objectives are implemented through Somerville’s neighborhood planning and design efforts, Somerville by Design, which follows a public engagement model best described as: “Outreach-Dialogue-Decide-Implement.”
  • A Complete Streets policy and ADA self-evaluation that serve as models for other communities.
  • Somerville has ongoing Safe Routes to School programs at all eight elementary and middle schools. Partners such as Shape Up Somerville, Somerville Public Schools, Somerville Bicycle Commission, WalkBoston, and Massachusetts DOT come together to do annual walk and bike audits to understand common walking routes, evaluate crossing guard placement, and assess structural and environmental needs for improved walk and bike safety. The audits result in walking maps that are printed in four different languages!
  • SomerStreets open streets events, Walk Ride Days, and the Mayor’s fitness challenge are ongoing encouragement efforts that get Somerville residents out and walking!
  • Somerville prioritizes pedestrian safety and comfort at crossings by using right-turn-on-red restrictions as most intersections, high-visibility thermoplastic crosswalk markings, and in-road yield signs. The city also regularly maintains crosswalks and routinely issues citations for cars that obstruct sidewalks, curb ramps, or crosswalks.
  • For more than five years, the city has been using volunteers to collect bicycle and pedestrian counts at 36 different locations.