Last week, I met with several city officials involved in the bicycle masterplanning process, including Cara Seiderman of the Community Development Department (leading the charge), the Traffic, Parking & Transportation Department, our City Manager, and the Deputy City Manager. We delved into cycling issues and covered topics such as sidewalk bumpouts, examples of successful bicycle infrastructure, general bike safety, and more.
Recent statistics show Cambridge has seen a 237% increase in cycling over the past decade. This means the city needs to spend more time making investments in our cycling infrastructure—and retooling our policy approach—to make Cambridge as welcoming, accessible, and safe for cyclists as possible. Here are a few key aspects of the plan thus far:
The Safe Routes to School program will be taking on a part-time employee, who will be tasked with the design of safe cycling routes for children traveling to and from our public schools.
A draft heat map of safe streets for various skill levels of bikers will be released soon. The city and an upcoming MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) competition are both interested in my suggestion that we code a “route generator” app based upon the user’s destination, safety of streets along the route, comfort level of the user, and real time traffic/safety.
The city is segregating bike lanes from street traffic along key routes. This separation work is based on street width, parking layout, and other factors. Together with traffic calming measures, this draft bike master plan will be released for feedback in November. Two images of separated cycle tracks are seen below.
Community feedback on November’s draft bicycle plan will be critical. It is important that we raise awareness and organize cyclist, pedestrian, and driver advocacy groups together now in anticipation of this crossroads feedback opportunity.
Cycling Data Releases
In early November, available survey data and long term planning information will be posted on the CDDwebsite. I have also been informed that data on bicycle accidents in Cambridge will be available through theopen data portal very soon (this could be of use at the upcoming DUSP competition). As we move forward on this issue, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with input, questions, concerns, etc.
Grand Junction Path
Last week, MIT released a long-awaited feasibility study on their stretch of the Grand Junction Path (GJP). The GJP is a shared-use path which will run from Allston, over the Charles River, through Cambridgeport, Central Square, Kendall Square, East Cambridge, and on to Somerville.
MIT’s stretch of the path, which includes some of the narrow, more challenging portions, has been determined feasible by the recently released study. The consultants that prepared the report have, however, determined that the City of Cambridge should be the leader for this project, which means the council and City Manager need to take action to build this path now.
Given the major development that will be occurring on the 140 vacant acres of Allston’s Beacon Park Yard, Cambridge needs to act now and ensure the tens of thousands of commuters drawn to and from this development are not drawing tens of thousands of cars through our residential neighborhoods. The GJP is the best tool in our arsenal for encouraging cycle and foot transportation to and from the Beacon Park Yard development and Kendall Square. We can’t afford to stall on this project any longer.