Saturday, April 20, 2024

From James M. Williamson, Nov. 2, 2017: We desperately need candidates for City Council who understand the obvious: There’s a massive problem with the way people ride their bikes in this city. Just ask any senior, bus driver or resident who tries to walk anywhere safely in Cambridge. (Even some people who ride bikes seem to agree.) There just don’t seem to be any rules at all for those who bicycle, and where there are rules they’re simply not enforced – certainly with nothing like any sustained or effective focus. There seems to be an all-too-pervasive culture among bicyclists that boasts, “I can do whatever I want, wherever I please, and with whatever justification I declare, and if you don’t like it? Too bad!” (The rules are for thee, but not for me.)

Recent controversy over the poor design and terrible implementation of the segregated bike lanes on Cambridge and Brattle streets has highlighted the issue, but it’s not just about bike lanes. We shouldn’t ignore the overall problem of bicycle lawlessness while we work to make these two plans – and future ones – better. Pedestrians, and pedestrian safety, deserve at least as much care and attention as that of bicyclists, and besieged as we are on a daily basis, we shouldn’t have to prove serious injury to warrant serious attention to our concerns.

By ignoring pedestrian comfort and safety, bicycling advocates – together with their self-serving allies in the city administration – are generating widespread resentment, which is becoming an obstacle to further implementation of even sensible bicycling infrastructure.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’re going to get the kind of candidates we need in this regard. The so-called “progressives” are missing an important opportunity in this election to show us that they actually get it, and that they can and will manage government to successfully address and solve real problems of real Cambridge people, not just bicyclists (who are, of course, also people.)

Isn’t this what “progressives” are supposed to be all about? Ignore the concerns of your fellow residents – and voters – at your peril. The hoped-for ambition of electing a majority of “like-minded” progressives will not happen if “progressives” don’t start listening to the people.

We citizens will have to once again provide leadership on this issue, as we have with so many others.