Since 2000 the city has commissioned a bi-annual survey of resident satisfaction with city services. In 2018, for the first time, Cambridge asked residents: Would you like to see the city install more protected bike lanes? Residents overwhelmingly said yes: 64% of online respondents and 60% of telephone respondents were in agreement, with 51 and 46% in “total agreement”. Only 26% were opposed.
We know that Cambridge residents want safer bike infrastructure based on the thousands of signatures for our petition and hundreds who showed up for our rally on City Hall lawn last fall. But now we have a statistically valid sample (margin of error = 4.9%) that proves it. City staff and councillors are often stuck trying to gauge sentiment on this issue from Monday evening Council meeting attendance and local media reports on the latest bike project. Now there is hard data that shows that residents, by a 34 point margin, want the city to build more protected bike lanes.
We also found out that Cambridge is a city that bikes: 30% of phone respondents biked, or had a household member who biked, at least every other week on average. Yet, more telling is that this is only half of the support for safe bicycle infrastructure. We are gratified — but not at all surprised — to see that residents care about the safety of other people even when they don’t regularly ride themselves.
Finally, when asked to rank issues that need more attention, bike safety was second only after affordable housing.
We believe that safe infrastructure for vulnerable users should not depend on an overwhelming mandate from the community. However, it certainly helps to have one. With 68% of phone respondents agreeing that the city has improved bicycle safety, there is broad agreement that people like the infrastructure the city has put in, and want to see much more of it.
Last year, we called on Cambridge to build 4 miles of protected bike lanes per year. With substantial resources and public opinion on its side, Cambridge must move quickly to complete a network of protected bicycle lanes that will provide a new, safe, and equitable method for local transportation for people of all ages and abilities.