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Traffic changes considered after Back Bay drag race

The scene of a Saturday night crash, at the intersection of Beacon and Exeter streets, where a car that was believed to be drag racing jumped the sidewalk, knocked down a fence, struck a tree, and hit a 28-year-old man.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Traffic-calming measures are being considered for the Back Bay after a pedestrian was injured in a drag racing incident on a stretch of Beacon Street that has long been plagued by speeding motorists.

The city will try a digital speed board and more police enforcement to slow traffic, according to the office of Mayor Martin J. Walsh. The city’s Department of Transportation is reviewing the street’s design to consider more permanent changes.

Spokeswoman Bonnie McGilpin said in a statement Monday that the city has been working closely with the community “to find an immediate solution to end this dangerous speeding.”

A meeting will be held on March 30 with the neighborhood association, the Transportation Department, and Boston police.


On Saturday, a Bentley struck a fence, a tree, and a pedestrian on Beacon Street near Exeter shortly before 6 p.m. A witness saw the driver of the Bentley jump into a white BMW he had been racing, which then sped onto Exeter Street toward Storrow Drive. Police are searching for at least two people.

“Obviously, it’s a major concern that someone would be drag racing through a residential neighborhood, hit someone, and run away,” said City Councilor Josh Zakim, whose district includes the Back Bay. “But it’s not the ongoing situation . . . it’s the way the street is; it encourages speeding. It’s a wide road [and] people take advantage of it.”

Zakim said speeding occurs mostly along Beacon Street between Berkeley Street and Kenmore Square.

“That area has been an area of concern for us for a long time, Boston Police spokesman Lieutenant Detective Michael McCarthy said Monday.

But the speeding has been getting worse, said Vicki Smith, chairwoman of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay.

“We need to figure out what it is that lets people feel like they can drive at very high speeds,” she said.


The Department of Transportation said digital speed boards have slowed traffic in other areas. Zakim said there has also been discussion about adjusting the traffic lights.

Civic groups say they have been pushing for a fix to the speeding problem after the death of a couple at Beacon and Fairfield streets nearly two years ago.

Jessica Campbell, 27, and her boyfriend, Jack Lanzillotti, 28, were killed in June 2014 when a driver barreled through a red light, collided with another vehicle, flipped, and struck the couple.

The driver, Mohamed Alfageeh of Allston, was sentenced last year to 18 months in prison and three years of probation.

WalkBoston, a pedestrian advocacy organization called for removing a traffic lane and replacing it with a protected bicycle lane and adjusting traffic signals.

“These are low-budget adjustments that could be made right away,” said Ann Hershfang, with WalkBoston.

“It’s worth a try,” she added.

Jan Ransom can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @Jan_Ransom.