This week we are spotlighting Cambridge as city to look to for bicycle urbanism. Mikael Colville-Andersen, author of Copenhagenize and CEO of Copenhagenize Design Company, has chosen Cambridge as one of his five favorite cities in America for bicycle infrastructure.
"Cambridge, Massachusetts has been ahead of the curve in the US for a while. They designed and implemented best practice infrastructure on Vassar Street in 2004 and completed the stretch in 2009. Unidirectional, both sides of the street and a decent width. I’ve ridden on it when I was in Cambridge for work and it was a nice slice of cycling goodness. It shows that protected bicycle infrastructure need not be over-complicated and that it is effective. Cambridge steadily continues to build similar facilities and I certainly hope the goal is a comprehensive network of such infrastructure. Every country needs a leader and Cambridge is a contender for that role in the US, let alone in the Boston region." - Mikael Colville-Andersen
Cambridge Bicycle Safety is volunteer group of Cambridge residents formed after the three cyclists died within two years, to call for the city to act more quickly to build streets that are safe for everyone.
Our goal as parents, students, homeowners, and people who work in Cambridge is to push the city to build out a city-wide network of protected bike lanes on major city streets so all ages and abilities, from young children to our older residents, can travel around the city safely. Cambridge’s dense and mostly flat urban layout makes it an ideal candidate for a network of protected bike lanes, also serving to calm traffic for people who get around on foot.
When we launched in 2016 we gathered over 3,000 signatures calling for the city to act with more urgency. Since then, the city has put in over a mile of quick-build protected bike lanes on Massachusetts Ave, the city’s major commercial and transportation thoroughfare, as well as more substantial lanes on Cambridge Street adjacent to the high school and a hospital. A two-way cycletrack in Harvard Square has been installed which provides the only safe route in and out of this bustling commercial area.
But this progress has been undermined by setbacks, including a small but vocal group of abutters who do not see the benefits of a city-wide protected network. As a result, some planned safety improvement projects have been inexplicably dropped and more often than not roads designated for protected facilities in the City’s Bike Plan are reconstructed as the status quo. The city’s planned safety improvements for Porter Square where two people died in 2016 are largely just paint and signal timing—they include no protection for bicyclists or pedestrians. These are all missed opportunities for building out the connected city-wide network our residents deserve.
In early May, we rallied with over 200 people, including many young families, to #DemandMore and formed Cambridge’s first people-protected bike lanes -- which may also have been the world’s first brass-band-and-people protected bike lane. By working productively and respectfully with city leadership and staff, our hope is that we can work together to rapidly build out that network.
Don't forget to enter our bike month sweepstakes below.