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"Sundays on the Boulevard" begins in Portland (WCSH)

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — There were walkers, runners, and cyclists, people on scooters and skates on Baxter Boulevard Sunday — all kinds of traffic, except for cars.

Baxter Boulevard, from Vannah Avenue to Payson Park is closed to motor vehicles on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from May until November.

It’s for “Sundays on the Boulevard,” a program city officials proposed last fall.

Baxter Boulevard had been closed for a public works project for eight months last year. During that time, people started to use the road as an extension of the Back Cove, walking, running, and recreating where there used to be traffic.

“We had a really good experience last year when we had to close Baxter Boulevard,” said Mayor Michael Brennan. “I don’t see any reason why it won’t become a permanent part of our culture in Portland.”

City planners say they are trying to make the city more pedestrian friendly. An ad hoc committee called the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee is working with the city to create more walk-able, and bicycle friendly spaces.

According to the committee’s chair, Damon Yakovleff, Sundays on the Boulevard is a step in the right direction.

“It’s a way to get people out in large numbers who might not be comfortable riding in traffic,” said Yakovleff.

To mark the first Sundays on the Boulevard, members of the committee did a six mile bike tour with city officials Sunday, riding through Baxter Boulevard and ending at Payson Park.