Chroniclers of Boston's future have a penchant for commuters shuttling around in space-age tubes, but it's far more likely that, in the event a flowery Washington Street corridor emerges, athletic and green-leaning Bostonians will pedal across the thoroughfare on bicycles. In 2008, the city got its first bike lanes, along with improved safety measures; last year, the mayor announced plans to add even more lanes as part of an $18 million refit of Mass Ave. Next up, cycle advocates will push for a car-free path parallel to Blue Hill Avenue, akin to the Southwest Corridor.
"Conditions were horrible for bikers five or 10 years ago," says Pete Stidman, director of the Boston Cyclists Union. "Now, even some people who thought that bikes didn't have a place are coming around."
As for public transportation, according to MBTA General Manager Richard A. Davey, by 2020, all underground train stations will have cell and WiFi service, and you'll be able to take the Green Line to Somerville and Medford, thanks to new light-rail extensions. Still, all of Boston's future relies on whether the MBTA finds a way to stretch train and bus service later into the evening, and on how the struggling agency manages its operations.
"If they're trying to keep the people who are going to start the next Facebook in Boston, you can't have them waiting for the Red Line," says Benjamin Forman, research director at public-policy think tank MassINC. "The longer people wait for trains in the cold, the more attractive San Francisco gets."
Food and entertainment
When Boston finally gets a nocturnal subway line, it'll liberate a city of hipsters who've been waiting for generations to smash shit till dawn. Ryan Vangel of Live Nation and Carl Lavin of Great Scott say Boston's indie-rock scene is only poised to further dominate, as touring becomes the only reliable means of banking in the music business. Meanwhile, the Citizens' Committee on Boston's Future is pushing for more destination events like the Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival and the Emerging America festival, which is good news for the dozens of new food trucks we'll to see in the coming years — including 25 more in 2011 alone.
In June 2012, the Boston Public Market Association, currently responsible for seasonal spreads on Dewey Square and Government Center, will complete its 30,000-square-foot, year-round Boston Public Market. Renowned restaurateur Barbara Lynch, a member of the city's future squad, is already boosting urban agricultural initiatives near public schools — so the next generation of kindergarteners will be raised as locovores. Seeing an impending garden boom, Garrett Harker, co-owner of Island Creek Oyster Bar and proprietor of Eastern Standard, predicts a spotlight shift: "The era of the celebrity chef is over," he says. "From here on out, it's all about celebrity bartenders, and even farmers." That's right — celebrity farmers!
As food gets healthier and further localized, the pressure will mount in support of later closing times. "This is a hot-button issue," says Harvard University economics professor Edward Glaeser, who chairs the Citizens' Committee on Boston's Future. "There's a lot of frustration about Boston shutting down as early as it does."