Alterations in Porter Square should do more to improve safety of pedestrians, bicyclists
From Elizabeth Koerber, Nate Fillmore and Colin Durrant of the Cambridge Bicycle Safety core team, on April 24, 2018: Since 2015, traffic violence has killed seven people biking or walking in Cambridge – two of them in Porter Square. Yet the city’s proposed Porter Square improvements prioritize rush-hour throughput rather than the safety and convenience of thousands of pedestrians using the busy transit hub and the people bicycling through this busy intersection.
Cambridge Bicycle Safety – a group of Cambridge residents and volunteers advocating for safer road designs for vulnerable road users – will rally from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday in Porter Square to ask for design improvements on behalf of the thousands of people walking, bicycling and using the MBTA daily there. The rally is prompted by the Middlesex district attorney’s statement released this month that road design was not a factor in Joe Lavins’ bicycling death in Porter Square in 2016. This is obviously false. Anyone who walks or bikes through Porter knows how dangerous it can be. (Marcie Mitler died after being hit by a car there in 2016 while walking.)
We applaud the city for its commitment to making Cambridge safe for everyone as they get around our city, whether on foot, on a bicycle, on the T or in a car. And while the city’s proposed improvements in Porter Square – primarily additions of green paint, swapping a right-turn lane and a bicycle lane and changing signal timing – are helpful, they do not go nearly far enough to protect people biking or walking and therefore do not achieve the Vision Zero goals we need in Porter Square.
Specifically, we are asking for:
Protected bike lanes on all approaches in and out of Porter Square, installed in 2018
Major traffic calming for pedestrians in Porter Square, installed in 2018
Narrower streets that encourage less speeding through Porter Square
Exploration of a “queue jump” dedicated bus lane or bus priority signal on Massachusetts Avenue at Porter Square
Cambridge Bicycle Safety met with city staff to ask for these changes, but the city has maintained a design focused on cars at rush hour.
The city has made significant improvements to safety on isolated segments of our streets over the past few years, but we need to connect these segments. The city needs to make a firm commitment to building a connected network of safe, protected bike lanes across Cambridge within the next five years.
We know from experience here and in cities across the world that sensible, smart investments in safety infrastructure will prevent deaths and make it much more enjoyable to choose sustainable and healthy transportation. Please join us in asking for city streets that are safe for people of all ages and abilities.