Dear Cambridge City Council,
I moved to Cambridge in 1977 and truly love our fair City. I raised six kids here and know Louie as the Little League Coach who inspired my son Izaak to play his best. I plan to live and work here for the rest of my life. Cambridge is blessed with good infrastructure, smart people, interesting organizations. and local government that’s willing to listen and innovate.
I founded my business, Synapse Energy Economics, in 1996. We employ 35 smart hardworking people engaged on technical and economic analysis of clean energy and environmental policy. Our clients include the US EPA, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, and literally hundreds of other agencies and public interest organizations in other states. We understand the challenges of implementing new ideas to improve urban mobility and to reduce negative environmental impacts.
Our office is at 485 Mass Ave, a block from the Central Square T stop. But on a good weather day we might have twenty bicycles in the office. Biking is very important to me and my employees and my family. We appreciate the convenience, the health benefits, and, well, biking can be fun!
A few years ago I had the traumatic experience of getting “doored.” I was biking (carefully!) just west of Harvard Square and a parked SUV door opened quickly. I hit the driver side door and flew off of my bike. I was bruised and scraped up pretty badly, and went to the emergency room at Mt Auburn for stitches. The worst result from this accident was that I was afraid to get back on my bike for a more than a year. I eventually did overcome my fear and enjoy biking around Cambridge.
However, I think that the fear that bicycling is dangerous is a well founded one. The data on fatalities in bike-car interactions are terrifying and depressing. I’m happy that my employees and my teenaged kids can get around town on bikes, but I worry about their safety.
I understand that Cambridge is at a point where we can decide to proceed with creation of a citywide network of protected bike lanes, or we can slow down progress and go with the status quo. I’m writing to state in plain language that the status quo with regard to biking in Cambridge is unacceptable. Biking is both integral to our lives and unacceptably dangerous. I don’t want my children, my employees, or my neighbors to be involved in accidents. Nor do I want my city to exposed to the liabilities associated with this dangerous situation.
I’d be happy to talk more about any of this. I’d also be happy to serve on a committee or provide input to anyone who’s involved in consideration of transportation options for Cambridge, including but not limited to the current projects involving protected bike lanes. I believe that Cambridge is a great place to live and to work — and that there are a lot of things we can do to make it better especially with regard to local transportation and how cars, bikes, pedestrians, and others (e.g., e-bikes, dockless scooters, roller skaters!) can get along gracefully.