By Christina Hager

BOSTON (CBS) – With fewer cars on the roads these days, do we need so many travel lanes for traffic that doesn’t exist? On Harvard Street in Brookline, the city has expanded the sidewalk with cones in the road to mark space for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Now, transportation officials in Boston are looking to do the same. “It will be done hand-in-hand with how the mayor and the governor announce reopening the economy,” said Vineet Gupta, Planning Director for the Boston Transportation Department. The idea came up during a City Council hearing Tuesday.

Gupta told WBZ that Centre Street in Jamaica Plain is one spot his department is eyeing, along with Codman Square in Dorchester, Meridian Street in East Boston, and Newbury Street.

“I think traffic on Newbury is already a nightmare,” said pedestrian Jane Voss.

But Tom Army, who’s the manager of JP Licks on Newbury, said, “I think it’s a great idea. We rely on pedestrian traffic, and anything that’s going to either expand that, or maybe some seating or something would help.”

Urban planner Jeff Speck said the concept works best on wider streets with two traffic lanes. “You take that parking lane, you push it into the first travel lane,” Speck said.

He said social distancing is nearly impossible in Boston without making changes. “There are too many competing forces on the sidewalks,” he said.

Christina Hager