QUICK-BUILD BIKE LANES ARE UNSAFE AND DAMAGE COMMUNITIES
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The City of Cambridge must:
Implement a process and design that respects neighborhood residents and businesses
Replace the parking required for a thriving businesses and communities
Honor the pledge to "enhance the business environment"
Establish and use the community advisory committee ordered by City Council in January 2022
Perform impact studies before further bike lane installations as ordered by the City Council in January 2022
Coming to Your Street Soon!
Late Summer 2022 Installation
Quick Build Bike Lanes Mason to Spark St.
Spring/Summer 2023 Installation
Quick Build Bike Lanes Spark Street to Mt Auburn (presentation) (zoom)
May 24, 6 pm
Community Outreach Zoom #1 (info)
Installation: to be announced
This website and a mail group were created in January 2022 when signs appeared in Porter Square announcing a community outreach Zoom about installing Quick Build bike lanes. The City outlined its intention to install the same awful configuration as North Mass Ave near the Arlington border (the new, improved version is pictured above). The installation was to happen in the Spring, giving the neighborhood very short notice of these high-impact, detrimental changes.
The North Mass Ave Quick-Build bike lane configuration removed all parking and loading zones. Travel lanes on this critical gateway in and out of Cambridge were reduced to one in each direction to accommodate a dedicated bus lane to support five buses per hour. There was no way to access the sidewalk from a car except to stop in the middle of the single travel lane. Customers and clients could no longer access their favorite shops, restaurants, doctors, and therapists. Although some improvements happened months later, the site is still confusing, dangerous, and harmful to businesses and service providers.
More on Porter Square is covered below.
Cycling Safety Ordinance
Cambridge neighborhood residents, in general, support safe cycling and lanes. However, the Cycling Safety Ordinance is not about safety. It's about installing bike lanes at all costs with specific provisions to ignore collateral damage.
The Cycling Safety Ordinance amended in 2020 (read Chapter 12.22) dictates the installation of 22.6 miles of protected bikes in Cambridge by 2026. Except for the title and introduction paragraph, there is no mention of "safety" in the body of the ordinance, nor does it have any other safety-related words like enforcement, training, education, markings, signs, measurement, metrics, or pedestrian. There is no mention of the safety of any other stakeholders except cyclists. Although the City Council has approved over $80M for a 3-mile section, there is no budget nor public accounting of the costs for the project.
Absent is the requirement to consider the businesses, neighborhoods, or other street users, except for the sentence: "Some impacts to motor vehicle traffic flow and some parking/loading loss shall not result in a determination that Temporary Traffic Control Device Separated Bicycle Lanes and or Quick-Build Separated Bicycle Lanes cannot be installed." Quick-Build installations inflict more than "some impacts," they remove almost all parking on affected streets. Section E of the ordinance requires the City Manager to install Quick Build bike lanes if the negative impacts cannot be resolved within a year. So, the City Manager must knowingly cause damage to residents and businesses.
7 out of 9 City Councilors signed a pledge to "do everything in my power to ensure the successful implementation of the ordinance." and further, " I will not vote for any proposal that weakens the ordinance or delays its timelines." (read)
Bike lane installations violate the following sentence in the pledge: "This should be done in a way that supports transit, improves pedestrian safety, protects the tree canopy, and enhances the business environment."
Removing loading zones and most customer parking critically damages the business environment. As a major artery, Mass Ave has many doctors, therapists, shops, and restaurants that serve a regional clientele that arrive by car.
Quick-Build Bike Lanes
The City continues to march through Cambridge neighborhoods one by one to fulfill the Cycling Safety Ordinance. At neighborhood outreach meetings, eager bikers who don't live in the area or even the City drown out residents' input. Neighborhood residents are not opposed to bike lanes but against Quick-Build construction that inflicts severe collateral damage on residents and businesses. Quick-Build installations mean most parking is removed from the affected streets and remove critical access for stakeholders.
The City of Cambridge plans to install protected bike lanes on Massachusetts Ave. in Porter Square in Fall 2022 between Beech and Roseland Streets. The scheduled removal of most public parking from Mass Ave without replacement will strangle our diverse, unique, and valued local businesses that are already reeling from the pandemic. In addition, the City plans the same confusing and unsafe Quick Build configuration that devastated North Mass Ave north near the Arlington border. The changes will affect our favorite businesses, neighbors, elderly friends, and all forms of transportation. Ten residential spaces on side streets were commandeered for meters, but our businesses still lose 24 of 34 customer parking spaces.
Residents do not oppose bike lanes but are appalled by the disregard for our businesses and residents.
Porter Square shops and restaurants attract customers regionally with diverse and unique cuisine, products, and services. Unfortunately, almost 50% of Porter Square businesses on Mass Ave were closed because of COVID. A loss of parking for customers will cause further devastation and impede recovery. We all want bicycle safety, but not at the cost of pedestrian and car safety, not at the expense of access for all, and not at the cost of the recovery of our restaurants, shops, and service providers. Parking and residential street impact cannot remain an afterthought.
The City Council has also approved an $80M project to construct bike lanes on Mass Ave north of Porter Square (Dudley to Beech Street) and south (Roseland to Waterhouse Street) by 2026. The current plans will remove 50-60% of customer parking and loading zones. This section of Mass Ave serves a regional community of customers, patients, and clients that travel to Cambridge by car. The unique businesses, restaurants, and service providers offer diverse ethnic and specialty products and services. Most are family-owned, and many are 1st or 2nd-generation immigrants. These businesses cluster on Mass Ave because of public parking and regional access. Current City plans threaten the survival of this thriving community.
The Bicycle Safety Ordinance passed by the Cambridge City Council in 2019 dictates the schedule. Unfortunately, the ordinance's implementation began and continues in extreme haste to meet aggressive deadlines to install 22.6 miles of bike lanes across the City with little regard for collateral damage. You can see the results throughout the City, including North Mass Ave near Arlington and south of Harvard Square, where businesses are devastated. Public feedback (much negative) was presented at the 6-hour December 20 City Council Meeting (video here) and many subsequent meetings. Many expressed concerns about negative impacts on small businesses, elderly/handicapped access, safety issues, parking, and traffic congestion, mainly concerning recent installations (i.e., North Mass Ave).
As a result, in January, the Council instructed the City Manager to (1) establish a 25-30 person bicycle safety advisory committee consisting of stakeholders to inform the process and (2) have "the Director of the Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Department meet with Neighborhood Business Associations, with the Neighborhood Associations, and within each of the Cambridge Housing Authority's senior buildings" (minutes here).
AS OF May 15, 2022, THIS COMMITTEE HAS NOT MET.
THE CITY PRESSES ON WITH INSTALLATION PLANS.
The North Mass Ave Quick Build bike lanes installed late last year removed most all parking and loading zones. Customers from surrounding communities could no longer patronize the local business because of the lack of parking and an unsafe traffic pattern. Businesses on this stretch of Mass Ave lost as much as 70% of their business. Patients couldn't reach doctor and therapist offices. The traffic pattern remains confusing and dangerous. The City still has not fully rectified the situation despite the outcry by residents. The City intends to repeat this debacle across Cambridge neighborhoods. There were no lessons learned, no community input, and no attempt to improve the Quick Build configuration. Residents across Cambridge demanded proper economic studies to learn from mistakes and improve installations. The City Council ordered an impact study in early March.
AS OF May 15, 2022, THE IMPACT STUDY HAS NOT BEGUN.
THE CITY PRESSES ON WITH INSTALLATION PLANS.
Portersquareneignborhood.com has no affiliation but the utmost respect for the Porter Square Neighborhood Association which can be found at www.portersquare.net