Mon June 26: Next steps for the protected bike network

A year ago today, Amanda Phillips was tragically killed while biking through Inman Square. Since that time, thousands have spoken out and pressured Cambridge to implement of a protected bike lane network and the redesign of Inman Square. This hard work has paid off as the city has fast-tracked pilot protected lanes few key locations, most notably on segments of Cambridge Street, Mass Ave, and Brattle Street.

We’re asking the city to (1) install two or more protected bike lanes this year and (2) immediately begin work on a timeline for the expedited build out of a full network of protected bike lanes on all major city thoroughfares, so we don’t have to keep doing this. Read the full policy order here.

When: This Monday, June 26, 5:30pm
Where: 795 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139
What: Attend and speak in favor of Policy Order O-10

RSVP on Facebook

This is our LAST CHANCE before the Council’s summer break to show the city that there’s demand for an expedited network.

While we’re thrilled about the projects that have happened this year, they are only a start. We urgently need a fully connected network of protected bike lanes for people of all ages and abilities. City staff have said they are not planning any other projects this year and Monday’s City Council meeting is the last before a summer break so it is our last chance to push the city to take further action.

There is enough time to install additional protected bike lanes this year if planning for them starts now. We need to demonstrate that there is overwhelming community support for doing so.

Top Twelve Reasons Protected Bike Lanes are an Urgent Priority in Cambridge

  1. Our current streets and proposed street designs are hazardous for current users.  Cambridge has seen three people killed while riding bikes over the past 2 years, along with numerous serious injuries.
  2. Protected bike lanes save lives and prevent serious injury, as documented in a recent Harvard School of Public Health study and a commentary in the American Journal of Public Health.   
  3. Cambridge could be liable for failing to redesign streets with a history of crashes, as recently decided in New York City and California.
  4. Over three thousand people signed a petition asking for protected bike lanes on major Cambridge roads, and the numbers of people cycling in Cambridge is increasing rapidly.  
  5. “I don’t want to die, and you don’t want to kill me.”  Current road conditions in Cambridge encourage “wildness” among people driving and cycling that is dangerous and stressful.
  6. Cycling is an affordable, fun, healthy, and efficient method to get around Cambridge, which is compact and flat.  Building a protected bicycle network creates transportation equity by making cycling a safe option for everyone.
  7. Hundreds of Cambridge teens are bicycling to school and after school activities and 25% of them report having been in a crash involving a vehicle.  
  8. Cambridge has officially adopted ordinances and policies that commit the city to reducing vehicle trips and increasing other modes of travel, including Vision Zero,  the Vehicle Trip Reduction Ordinance, the Growth Policy Document, and the Climate Protection Plan.
  9. The Cambridge Bicycle Plan maps out a vision for a street network that can provide safe passage for riders ages 8-80.  Many other cities are installing miles of protected bike lanes and we can learn from their successes.
  10. Improved infrastructure for people riding bikes, walking, and taking transit often also improves flow of car traffic, decreases stress on all road users, and increases property values.   Retail performance is typically not affected or is improved when on-street parking is replaced by protected bicycle lanes, which bring many more customers to the street.
  11. “Streets have been the same way for so long that people don’t really understand what’s possible.”  Vision and leadership can significantly improve safety and quality of life in Cambridge.  
  12. Cambridge has seen only a modest increase in bicycle infrastructure from 2000 to 2015 compared with other cities, according to data from 2000-2015 published in American Journal of Public Health (Dec. 2016).  Clearly more progress is needed.  For example while seven US cities increased bicycle networks by more than 100% since 2000, Cambridge — with only 27% growth – was second from the lowest.

Pucher and Buehler, American Journal of Public Health, Dec 2016

Nov. 7 Committee Motions

After the 8 policy orders were passed on Oct 17, we applied pressure on the city administration to implement them, including our petition delivery on Oct 31st.

Councillor Mazen called a meeting for Nov 2 to discuss the orders, at which the city delayed the pilot program until the Spring. Councillor Mazen submitted a motion to be voted on during Nov 7th’s meeting to have a pre-winter pop-up on one street and a comprehensive network of pop-ups in the Spring.

Contact your councillors BEFORE MONDAY NOV 7th to support the network of pop-ups and/or a pre-winter pop-up. Contact info here.

See minutes from Nov 2nd meeting here (included in Nov 7 council meetings’s full agenda, not agenda summary)

Mayor Simmons also has a policy order (#295) to demand a report by December 12, 2016 on progress and to have full implementation by November 1, 2017. While great to have a deadline on paper, we want much faster movement than this – implementation should be done in the Spring, not by next November.


Motion text below:
1. That the City Manager instruct the Traffic Department to move one popup pilot lane up in time to winter or pre-winter and use the time between now and spring to plan a much more comprehensive network of popups for spring, including Hampshire, Massachusetts Avenue, and other high traffic corridors and report back on this matter.

2. That the City Manager instruct the city’s Vision Zero process and team to engage professional bicycle leaders and experts in Cambridge and Greater Boston on an urgent basis in response to collisions and on an ongoing basis to keep these leaders more directly involved in this work and that this should be independent from existing advisory and report back on this matter.

3. That the City Manager is instructed to work with the Traffic Department and the Department of Public Works to re-open the discussion on protected bicycle infrastructure on Huron Avenue with the bicycle community, Huron Avenue businesses, and other stakeholders and report back on this matter.

4. That the City Manager work with Public Safety to consider higher frequency enforcement in key transit junctions and corridors and report and report back on this matter.

5. City manager work with the Traffic Department to make street markings and street signage more ubiquitous in an effort to market the rules of the road to the users of all transportation modes and report back on this matter.

Oct. 17, 2016 Policy Orders

In response to Joe Lavins’ death the previous week, city councillors submitted many policy orders regarding bicycle safety. They have now passed – updated numbers.

Two call for pilot programs for protected bike lanes on major city thoroughfares – Mass Ave, Cambridge St and Hampshire St (POR # 264, 267). These are particularly exciting since they include concrete asks and an urgent timeline for execution.

One orders that separated bike lanes be included in all new Mass Ave designs (POR # 266).

Two involve reconsidering designs, specifically for Pearl St and Huron Ave (POR # 265, 268).

One creates a working group for Vision Zero, to make sure its principles are adhered to in any new design (POR # 269). It’s good to see Cambridge legitimize its commitment to Vision Zero – hopefully, the working group will have sufficient power.

One is truck-related (POR # 272).

One asks the city to report back on ways to improve bicycling and safety for other users (POR # 263), but is too broad in scope. Plus, we already have the Cambridge bicycle plan, the State has guidelines on complete streets plus a funding program, and more. We know how to do this. However, we appreciate the sentiment.

Download complete policy orders (PDF)

Policy Order #267 (in pdf #3477)
Sponsored by Councillor Devereux, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Mazen

That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to work with the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department, Department of Public Works, Community Development Department, Fire Department, Police Department, Budget Department, and other relevant City departments to install pilot program protected bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue between Cedar Street and Harvard Square starting on November 1, 2016, to install pilot program protected bike lanes on Cambridge Street between Inman Square and Quincy Street and to install pilot program protected bike lanes on Broadway between Prospect Street and Quincy Street, all for the period of at least one month.

Policy Order #264 (in pdf #3480)

Sponsored by Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Councillor Jan Devereux, Councillor Craig A. Kelley

That the City Manager is requested to work with the appropriate City Departments to design a pilot system of flex-post separated bike lanes and intersections, along Massachusetts Avenue, Hampshire Street, and Cambridge Street to determine how installation of flex-posts might be used as either interim or permanent bike safety solutions while other infrastructure improvements can be designed and analyzed for safety and implemented as appropriate.

Policy Order #266 (in pdf #3478)
Sponsored by Councillor Devereux, Vice Mayor McGovern, Councillor Mazen

That the City Manager is requested to include separated bicycle facilities or adjacent off-street paths in any plans for reconstructing all or part of Massachusetts Avenue, along the entire length of the reconstructed segment and to give first priority to the safety and convenience of the most vulnerable road users – pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users – with second priority to the safety and convenience of motor vehicles in any plans for reconstructing all or part of Massachusetts Avenue.

Policy Order #265 (in pdf #3479)

Sponsored by Councillor Devereux, Councillor Mazen

That the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebrations committee be and hereby is requested to hold a committee hearing to discuss the possibility of adding a bike-bus lane to Pearl Street and any measures that can be taken to accommodate on-street parking preferences of residents.

Policy Order #268 (in pdf #3476)

Sponsored by Councillor Devereux, Councillor Mazen

That the City Manager is requested to include protected bike lanes on both sides of Huron Avenue for the full length of its reconstruction, per the Cambridge Bicycle Plan.

Policy Order #269 (in pdf #3474)

Sponsored by Councillor Devereux, Vice Mayor McGovern

That the City Manager is requested to form a Vision Zero Working Group comprised of staff from the relevant City departments and residents to collaboratively develop and review traffic safety plans, street designs, public education initiatives, traffic enforcement and related policies with the shared goal of eliminating crashes that result in serious injuries and deaths as quickly as possible.

Policy Order #263 (in pdf #3439)

Sponsored by Mayor E. Denise Simmons, Councillor Craig A. Kelley

That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Community Development Department and the Cambridge Police Commissioner, and to report back to the City Council on what specific recommendations and measures the City should consider in order to prevent future bicycle accidents and fatalities from occurring, and to make our streets safer for bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians.