Bike Lanes Update

I wanted to bring this issue forward to advocate for convening a working group to evaluate the Cambridge Street bike lanes, so that members can come away from the table united by recommendations for a smarter, safer, and more equitable design. I appreciate the City Manager reiterating the City’s commitment to these bike lanes, and I share that commitment. However, the Cambridge Street lanes were presented to the neighborhood and stakeholders as a pilot project and that evaluations would be made in the Spring. This policy order asks the Mayor’s Office and City Manager to convene a group of stakeholders to evaluate the successes and safety challenges that these lanes pose, and how to best address them. The beauty of doing a pilot or demonstration project is that you can listen to feedback and adjust as you move forward.

This order lines up well with the spirit of the City’s Vision Zero action plan unveiled last week in which every speaker stated the underlying premise of the plan is “EQUITY, ACCESS AND INCLUSION”

Asking for a working group to assess these lanes provides this equity, access, and inclusion by bringing all stakeholders to the table.

I received many emails this weekend talking about reviving the stakeholder group that met this summer to discuss the implementation of the bike lanes, but I would be so bold as to say not all groups were well represented, attendance varied, some left mid process in frustration, and it was not given the weight and ability to make recommendations. At the first meeting of that stakeholder group, the City Manager stated this was a “bold plan and that the success of future projects hinge on our ability to “get this project right”. Getting this project right means gathering feedback from the users of Cambridge Street, whether they be cyclists, pedestrians, drivers, residents who live in the neighborhood, high school students and their parents, senior citizens, or patrons of the local small businesses affected.

Since I assumed this position, the Council has received many, many emails from residents who say that the bike lanes have made them unsafe, including pedestrians who are having trouble crossing the lanes with cyclists at high speeds, and elderly or disabled drivers exiting their cars into the narrow travel lanes and more. There has been tremendous support for the lanes from the cycling community, but if we are really talking about equity, access, and inclusion we need to ensure these voices are also heard.

This policy order has generated quite a lot of communication this weekend, and I would like to highlight what some residents have suggested for possible updates and tweaks – feedback that is exactly what I am hoping is generated by the working group:

  • Install the kind of signals that allow bikes to cross first, before cars, to avoid right hook accidents.
  • Using other methods of protection besides bollards, such as planters or pre-cast curbs which would enhance livability and make the streets nicer, and provide better protection.
  • Implement pedestrian improvements with new or enhanced crossings, or new pedestrian cemented refuges
  • Several people commented that the Felton St/Cambridge St intersection is a conflict site that should be looked at.
  • At the corner of Trowbridge and Cambridge Streets, the bike lane curves out to accommodate the sidewalk, with no warning to those on bicycles – could something be done to eliminate this conflict?
  • Add a designated drop off zone and publicize it.
  • Add more short term parking, perhaps only during business hours.
  • Including public transit users and senior citizens in any conversation moving forward.
  • Lots of people talked about better education for ALL modes of transportation as well as better enforcement of traffic laws and better signage in the lanes where pedestrian conflicts come into play.

These are the types of conversations we SHOULD be having as we look towards the future and creating a connected network of bike lanes for safe passage through the City. This idea of equity, access, and inclusion should guide this work. But if we don’t start having this conversation in a healthy way we will continue to widen the divide. I thank my colleagues Mayor Marc McGovern Cambridge City Council​ and Councillor Craig Kelley​ who have joined me in this effort, and I thank my colleagues who supported the important step forward in this conversation.

People are asking: “what’s next?” I know everyone is eager to come to the table and begin the review process, which will begin after the order goes through both the City Manager and Mayor’s Office. They will begin to assemble the working group, taking into account the feedback outlined in the order. This time, the working group will be more representative, have clear evaluation criteria, and the added task of making concrete recommendations to the City for improvements to the Cambridge Street bike lanes.

I will be working closely to see this working group come to fruition, so please get in touch with me for more specific questions or updates.

Cambridge Street Bike Lanes

On this week’s Council agenda, I’ve co-sponsored a Policy Order to revive a previous working group that gave input on the Cambridge Street bike lanes before they were installed.

Pilot programs like the Cambridge Street lanes are a great way to involve the community in our City’s plan for “complete streets”. During the community process before installing these lanes, a stakeholder group was convened which gave input on the design, and residents were assured that because this was a pilot, there would be opportunities for feedback and re-evaluation after the community had a chance to use the bike lanes.

I’ve gotten daily emails from neighbors, business owners and their patrons, and pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists alike. Some love the bike lanes and others are having trouble parking or accessing local businesses, but one thing we can all agree on is that residents are eager to give additional feedback about these lanes, especially since they’ve been in use almost eight months. As a Mid-Cambridge resident, mom of a young cyclist, and advocate for our most vulnerable (including our elderly who rely on cars and local pharmacies), I believe I am well-positioned to take a leadership role in this conversation.

We all want safe streets for all, and we shouldn’t be promoting rhetoric that pits cyclists and drivers against each other in an “us vs. them” situation. My goal with this policy order is to bring everyone back to the table, let all interested stakeholders give feedback now that the bike lanes have been in use, and approach the City with real solutions. Cambridge Street has the potential to serve as a model for expanding our network of protected bike lanes, so smart design achieved through a robust community process will be important now, and going forward.

Albany Shelter Visit

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I’m hoping you show your love for Cambridge by participating in our #WarmHeartsforWarmFeet challenge and helping me and Councillor Siddiqui collect wool socks for the Albany Street shelter.

The shelter is run by CASPAR and Bay Cove, and is a wonderful non-profit that provides wrap-around services, including healthcare, to those in our community facing homelessness and addiction. They have over 100 beds to accommodate guests every night, and handle over 160 individual cases to help clients find jobs, permanent housing, and get back on track. We also met their chef, who prepares 90,000 meals per year on a $30,000 budget, and works hard to make meals that are nutritious and tasty.

Wool socks are a valuable resource for the shelter and its guests, so that’s why Councillor Siddiqui and I have challenged the Cambridge Police Department to see who can collect the most pairs of wool socks from February 12th-21st. Our goal is 500 pairs, so that each guest in the shelter can have 2 pairs of socks every week.

Drop your pair (or more!) of wool socks by City Hall (795 Massachusetts Ave) or Police Headquarters (125 6th St) from the 12th-21st to help our homeless neighbors! If you want more information about CASPAR and the valuable, life-saving services they provide, please visit them at

A BID for Central Square

Central Square is the neighborhood where I work and spend most of my time, whether it’s in City Hall, meetings at WorkBar, or working my non-profit job at Food for Free. I love Central Square – its unique small businesses, restaurants, and location make it poised for the urban revitalization it so deserves.

At the Council meeting on January 29th, I introduced a Policy Order to ask the City Manager to explore establishing a Business Improvement District in Central Square. When businesses form a BID, they pay an extra fee which goes into a resource pool, allowing them to collaborate on projects like street maintenance and beautification, planning events and concerts, joint advertising, connecting people with social services, hiring tourism ambassadors, and decorating our streets for the holidays.

Massachusetts already has five BIDs in Amherst, Hyannis, Taunton, Springfield, and our closest neighbor, Downtown Boston. I am excited to be working with Michael Monestime, the Executive Director of the Central Square Business Association, to take on this project and establish Central Square as our City’s pre-eminent arts and culture district.