The planned reconstruction of Pearl Street has drawn significant attention from Cambridgeport residents as well as local transportation and cycling advocates. Councillor Toomey’s recent order to abort plans for a cycling space on Pearl Street has drawn additional attention from the council and residents.
Pearl Street Parking and Bike Infrastracture
First, some background. This summer, Cambridge is planning on completely reconstructing Pearl Street. That means ripping it up and laying it back down again. CDD and DPW have planned two options for the street. One, the ‘Base Plan’, will add bumpouts and raised crosswalks. The second option is called the ‘Complete Street’ plan, which will allow parking on both sides of the street during the night, and restrict it on one side during the day, making a number of other less controversial improvements. It is this ‘Complete Street' plan that Councillor Toomey has proposed we abandon.
I've received a great number of e-mails and phone calls from residents favoring one or the other plan. Residents opposed to the ‘Complete Street’ plan are fearful that the loss of parking will make parking more inconvenient for them in Cambridgeport. Residents supporting the ‘Complete Street’ plan are excited that the street will encourage more people to bicycle, will allow for easier MBTA bus passage, and will set a precedent for more non-auto transportation options in the city.
Although I support the idea of adding cycling space and making MBTA bus traffic more efficient, I think the ‘Complete Street’ plan still has some major flaws. The bus stops should be more permanent, protected affairs that encourage all to use public transit. The bike lane, if moved to the opposite side of the street, will misplace fewer parking spaces and help widen the sidewalk. Additional street trees should be planned. That being said, I believe the status quo on Pearl Street has significant shortcomings, socially and environmentally, and we should be doing everything in our power to move our city and neighborhoods towards a healthier, less polluted, and more livable place.
I’ll be voting no on Councillor Toomey’s upcoming policy order because I don’t think maintaining the status quo on Pearl Street is good for our health, environment, or neighborhood. However, I would like to see the city take this project back to the drawing board and design a better street for all - a street with real bus stops, wider sidewalks, more trees, and a space that doesn't just accommodate, but encourages cycling.
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