When Baxter Boulevard closed last year for a sewer project, people assumed there would be major traffic problems, but for the most part that wasn’t the case. Without cars on the road (which is smack dab next to Back Cove) runners took over the street. So did kids learning to ride bikes (because Back Cove Trail is pretty skinny if you’re on your first Huffy) and the skaters, dog-walkers and hula-hoopers.
So, it’s happening again. Portland Trails, the city and a bunch of other groups worked to create Sundays on the Boulevard. About a mile of Baxter Boulevard (from Vannah Avenue to Payson Park) will close to traffic 9 a.m.-4 p.m. every Sunday from May 3 through Nov. 9.
“It’s to promote community building and healthy recreation. It’s meant to be an organic event. If someone wants to fly kites or roller skate or have a yoga class out there, that’s fine,” said Kara Wooldrik, executive director of Portland Trails. People cannot charge money for activities on Baxter Boulevard, but can ask for donations.
Portland Trails is working with food trucks, Maine Roller Derby, martial artists and biking groups to provide some programs like a bike obstacle course. Ideally, Sundays on the Boulevard will become a sort of festival, Wooldrik said. Open street projects happen all over the nation to encourage communities to play where they usually can’t.
So, if you are dying to hopscotch or pull your unicycle out of the garage, here’s your chance.
This is a map of the section closed to cars, open to pedestrians/runners/skaters/cyclists/circus performers/free-roaming babies: