Friday, July 12, 2024

This year, I met a janitor named José. He started work at 4 p.m. and ended at 2 a.m. In the mornings, he would take the T, but at the end of the day the T had shut down. He couldn’t afford to take a Lyft or Uber. As such, every day he would spend two hours walking home.

This is a disgrace.

Our region has the worst traffic congestion in the country. Our cyclists feel unsafe on our roads. Our mass transit is deteriorating, while at the same time we keep pushing fare hikes. We are letting down people such as José.

Yes, the MBTA is a state agency and Cambridge’s City Council has no direct control over it – that is the problem. Our cities understand how critical a working T is to our residents. We should demand representation on the MBTA’s governing board.

In Cambridge, bus service is critical – it connects our city and allows so many people to get around. We should do better to ensure it is functional. This means addressing transit deserts in Cambridgeport and West Cambridge. We should never be more than a half-mile from a bus stop. This means adding bus lanes to speed up service and help people get where they need to go. This means putting up clear signs with estimated wait times and updating our online services so people know when a bus will arrive with certainty. This means adding more bus shelters throughout our city so people don’t need to wait outside in the rain or snow for a bus to arrive.

Cambridge has one of the largest biking population of any city in the United States. We should take the safety of our bikers seriously and integrate them fully into our infrastructure. This means following through on our Cycling Safety Ordinance and pushing our city manager to ensure we build up our bike network quickly. This means going further than building bike lanes; we should build sidewalk bike paths that provide greater safety for riders and certainty for drivers.

Greater Boston has some of the worst congestion in the country. In Cambridge, much of the traffic – as much as 80 percent – comes from people coming from outside to work in or around Cambridge. Fixing this means building housing in Cambridge in transit-rich areas to alleviate traffic. It means regulating where Lyft and Uber can stop, so drivers don’t block the flow of traffic.

As much as 20 percent of our city walks to work. It is the single most important way to get around, but we sometimes forget our pedestrians. We should ensure they get priority in clearing when there is a lot of snow. We should study sidewalk expansions, plant trees and shape our streets to make them more welcoming. We should study building pedestrianized areas of our city.

A city councillor should work to make Cambridge the best city to live in for people using all modes of transportation.

Burhan Azeem, candidate for Cambridge City Council