Tag: Boston Common

Thanks for coming on the 2023 Bob Sloane Walk

Thanks for coming on the 2023 Bob Sloane Walk

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us yesterday for our 2023 Bob Sloane Walk! It was a pleasure to gather with friends, learn from our speakers, and enjoy a walk (despite the rain!) through downtown, Boston Common, and the South End. WalkMassachusetts has a yearly tradition of leading a free walk each spring along a short route that includes stops where we hear from guest speakers. This was our second year hosting a springtime walk in honor of Bob Sloane, a co-founder of WalkBoston who passed away in May 2021. He was a true pioneer in walking advocacy and a pillar of our organization. We thank those who shared loving memories of him throughout the event.  

We’d also like to say a big thank you also to our wonderful speakers! Shawn Quigley, a Park Ranger with the National Park Service, gave a moving account on the history of the 54th Regiment, one of the first Black regiments of the American Civil War, at their memorial just across the street from the State House. 

Nathan Frazee, a Project Manager from Boston Parks and Recreation Department shared about the process and implementation of the Boston Common Master Plan. 

The last talk was given under the arms of ‘The Embrace’ Memorial by Brian Sandford, a designer with MASS Design Group, the nonprofit architecture firm behind the memorial’s design and realization for their client, Embrace BostonWe ended the evening with drinks at MASS Design Group’s office space in the South End while perusing their “Making the Embrace” exhibit. Thank you to MASS for welcoming us into your fantastic space.

(We even glimpsed a rainbow before the sun set.) 

Thank you for helping us honor Bob Sloane’s legacy and continue his advocacy work. Keep an eye out for more events this summer! 

Event – 2023 Bob Sloane Walk

Event – 2023 Bob Sloane Walk

Please join us on Wednesday, May 24th at 5:30pm for this year’s Bob Sloane Walk.

Sign up today!

This walk is in honor of Bob Sloane. Bob was a co-founder of WalkBoston (now WalkMassachusetts) and passed away in May 2021. He was a true pioneer in walking advocacy and a pillar of our organization, and we honor his legacy by hosting a walk each year in his name.

Each spring, we lead a free walk with a ~1-1.5 mile route that includes ~2-4 stops along the way where we hear from a guest speaker. We start or end near public transit, and usually end at a place where people can mingle/have a drink if they’d like to continue conversations.

Since this is a point-to-point walk, we encourage you to use public transportation, walk, or bike to the start so that it is easy for you to head out afterwards.


  • City Hall Plaza Redesign 
  • Park Ranger, National Park Service; Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Memorial
  • Nathan Frazee, Project Manager, Boston Parks and Recreation Dept.; Boston Common Master Plan
  • Chris Scovel, RA, LEED; Design Director, MASS Design Group; The Embrace


We’re starting behind the Government Center MBTA Station (corner of Cambridge St and Court St), which is also where our first speaker will talk about the redesign of Boston’s City Hall Plaza. 

From there, we’ll walk along Tremont St, take a right on Beacon and get to the Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Memorial across from the State House, where a National Park Service Ranger will join us to talk about the monument and the renovations.

Next, we’ll head to the Frog Pond in the Boston Common, where we’ll be joined by Boston Parks to talk about the Boston Common Master Plan. We’ll then stop at The Embrace to hear from MASS Design Group about the memorial. From there, we will then continue on to MASS Design Group’s office in the South End where they currently have an exhibition called “Making the Embrace.” We’ll end with a drink on their outdoor deck, or invite you to check out one of the many bars and restaurants near their office in the South End!

The walk route is fully accessible. Since the Boston Common entrance at the Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Memorial only has stairs, we will use the sidewalk on Park Street toward Park St Station, and enter the Boston Common at the corner of Park and Tremont.

View the tentative route on Google Maps here.

We hope to see you on May 24th at 5:30pm. Please RSVP today!

Comment Letter Re: Boston Common Master Plan

Comment Letter Re: Boston Common Master Plan

Nathan Frazee
Project Manager
Boston Common Master Plan
Boston Parks Department
1010 Massachusetts Ave.
Boston, MA 02118
via email: nathan.frazee@boston.gov 

RE: WalkBoston Comments on 2022 Boston Common Master Plan

Dear Mr. Frazee:

WalkBoston has followed the progress for the Boston Common Master Plan over the last few years, and we appreciate the time and attention that has been placed on creating an inviting public realm and an enhanced sense of arrival and safer crosswalks at all entrances. We’ve highlighted some sections from the draft report below.

Park Entrances: 

  • We encourage the Parks Department to work with the Transportation Department to ensure the important mid-block crossing of Charles Street at Mayor’s Walk is a raised crosswalk; the draft language hedges in saying it is “A large crosswalk, possibly elevated.” Many people drive way too fast on Charles Street; a raised crosswalk will help calm traffic between two significant parks. 
  • The Shaw 54th Memorial was left out of an earlier draft since it is not accessible from the Boston Common (and due to restoration work by the National Park Service); we are pleased to see that an accessible entrance to the Common from the Shaw 54th Memorial is incorporated into the draft as an early action project.
  • We are pleased to see an early action project for Park Street Station’s plaza will further develop a proposed grading scheme to create an accessible path similar to how Government Center combines stairs and ramps. We had concerns with the previous draft that seemed to frame a direct route down the hill near Park Street onto the plaza at a location near the curbs of Tremont Street. 

Seating & Benches:

  • The report states there are approximately 238 benches in different states of repair today on the Common, down from 390 at the time of the 1996 Management Plan. We are very pleased to see a commitment to both increasing the number of benches available in the Common and providing a higher level of accessibility for existing and new locations, including prioritizing bench locations with new tree plantings for shade. 
  • It is noted that “Armrests should be considered as an accessibility measure; armrests help the elderly and all park users more easily stand up from a seated position. In this way, benches can be used to further the social agenda of the park, making the experience more equitable and accessible for all visitors.” During our Age-Friendly work in Boston with the Age-Strong Commission, participants have expressed that benches with arms help them both with sitting and standing back up from a bench. 
  • We encourage you to look at the improvements the City of Boston made to Cassidy Playground in Allston-Brighton. The redesign created many different seating options, including benches with and without arms, that give park users the opportunity to find seating that works best for their needs at the time. We hope that you can find a solution that meets the needs of older adults without creating hostile architecture. 

Safer bike facilities to reduce bike/ped conflict:

  • Thank you for the continuation of the current policy of excluding bicycle riding in the park. We appreciate the support for the Transportation Department’s work to create better bike facilities on the streets surrounding the Common. If those lanes are a safe option, more people biking will use them. This policy assures the safety and calm of the paths for pedestrians and avoids conflicts between walkers and cyclists. 

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Brendan Kearney
Deputy Director of Advocacy, WalkBoston

Boston Herald: Woman struck by stolen vehicle suffers life-threatening injuries at Boston Public Garden, police say

Boston Herald: Woman struck by stolen vehicle suffers life-threatening injuries at Boston Public Garden, police say

Boston Herald: “Woman struck by stolen vehicle suffers life-threatening injuries at Boston Public Garden, police say

Brendan Kearney of the WalkBoston advocacy group said he counts five fatal crashes in Boston this year, including the one earlier this week in Andrew Square. He said the city should use its current Boston Common master planning project to take a hard look at the wide streets surrounding the pedestrian-heavy parks downtown that “really just invite speeding.”

“These streets – they are built for high speed,” Kearney said, noting other fatal crashes around that area over the past few years. “It doesn’t matter who’s driving, if the truck was stolen or not – we need fewer roads that are overbuilt like this.”

He added that the big-picture question people should be asking is, “How do we reduce speed and make it safer?”

Boston: Boston Common and Public Garden Map

Boston: Boston Common and Public Garden Map

Boston Common [1634] is America’s first public park — 50 acres purchased at the edge of the colonial town for the common use as a place to train soldiers and graze cattle. For 200 years residents walked through the Common’s treeless meadows on informal paths. Colonial and British soldiers camped and marched here. The grazing cows were evicted from the Common in 1830, when the city’s growth surrounded the park. Starting with George Washington, all US presidents have walked its paths.

Click for “Boston Common and the Public Garden” Map PDF

Click for “WalkBoston’s Boston Common and Public Garden Map” on Google Maps