** After seeing the City’s proposed design documents for Porter Square intersection improvements we were compelled to write a follow-up letter expressing our disappointment in the plan. You can read that letter here **
On behalf of the volunteers and residents who are part of Cambridge Bicycle Safety we are writing to urge the City to expedite the planned Vision Zero safety improvements for Porter Square and implement them as soon as possible in 2018.
We strongly support the following changes included in the city’s proposal:
- Changes to simplify traffic flow and shorten signal phases, making it easier for pedestrians to cross and everyone to get through the intersection.
- Permanently closing the exit ramp from the mall onto Massachusetts Ave toward Harvard Square. Additionally, we encourage the City to use the old ramp to create a new public space to enhance livability with benches, planters, etc…
We strongly encourage the city to incorporate the following action into this improvement project to enhance bicyclist safety:
- Ensure cyclists have a safe exit by installing a new green painted bike crossing from the shopping center to the other side of Mass Ave running parallel to the crosswalk.
Finally, we remain disappointed that more significant infrastructure changes are not being considered as part of the City’s Vision Zero response, specifically changes that could more directly address the conditions that contributed to the recent deaths. Accordingly, we urge the City to expedite installation of protected bike lanes (especially adjacent to where Joe Lavins’ crash occurred) and shorten crossing distances for pedestrians (especially across Somerville Avenue, which could be done now that the two left turn lanes from Mass Ave have been reduced to one) to improve safety for pedestrians and people on bikes.
The long awaited safety enhancements in the City’s plan were promised after the death of Marcie Mitler and Joe Lavins who were both killed in Porter Square in 2016, and we firmly believe it has already taken too long — well over a year — for these important changes to be implemented. Vision Zero principles call on cities to more rapidly install safety improvements and infrastructure to avoid future tragedies. For example, after the near death of a cyclist in 2016, Berkeley installed a protected bike lane just three months later.
Thank you as always for your dedication to making Cambridge a safe city to bike for people of all ages and abilities.