Monday, July 22, 2024

We are writing with a deep concern that the controversy around the rollout of separated bike lanes will swamp this municipal election. We have had a number of conversations with progressives who have said that this year they are voting single-issue for candidates who oppose separated bike lanes. Here is our response:

For the record: We fully support a network of separated bike lanes in Cambridge, and more broadly policy efforts that ensure safe access for all Cambridge residents (pedestrians, cyclists and drivers) to needed goods and services such as retail and affordable grocery stores, parks, transport, clinics and libraries. The research is clear: Separated bike lanes work, and work to protect everyone on the road and sidewalks.

We acknowledge, however, significant and valid concerns about the community process around the rollout of these bike lanes in North Cambridge and other areas of the city. We have three responses to this. First, we urge the city to ensure that future rollouts have sufficient community process and feedback to mitigate any short-to-medium term negative effects that new infrastructure may have, and thereby make sure that new separated bike lanes allow for the win-win result that most other cities have experienced. Second, we urge the city to work closely with neighborhoods where separated bike lane rollout has already occurred, to address all remaining concerns and make appropriate changes accordingly. Third, we support ongoing review of the efficacy of each implementation, with community input, to make sure that future designs learn from past mistakes and allow for the best outcome for all residents.

We also call on the city to work urgently on improving public transit of all types throughout the city, including but not limited to a fare-free No. 1 bus and substantial investments in intracity shuttle services and last-mile transport controlled by the city. Public transit is the most important complement to improved biking infrastructure in our transition away from a car-centric society. This is especially true for low-income residents, who disproportionately rely on public transit, as well as generally for residents who will be unable to use a bicycle as their primary method of transportation. Resident and metered parking should be maintained for those who need it.

What else is this election about?

Whatever you think about bike lanes, we urge you to look at Cambridge and all its challenges when selecting candidates in this municipal cycle. A great deal is at stake in the next council: Among many other things, we face an unprecedented housing-affordability crisis, a climate emergency, rising rates of eviction and homelessness and pressing conversations about the future of public safety.

If you decide to support candidates based entirely on their opposition to bike lanes, you could be supporting people financed by developers, unsupportive of affordable housing, opposed to a bold local response to the climate crisis and opposed to funding community-based violence prevention programs.

Our Revolution Cambridge urges you to consider a holistic view of the importance of ending displacement, providing enough affordable housing, addressing the climate crisis and supporting the Cambridge Heart alternative to armed police emergency response, on top of the importance of significantly improving the community process during the continued rollout of separated bike lanes in Cambridge. We have proudly endorsed candidates who share this vision:

  • Ayah Al-Zubi
  • Joe McGuirk
  • Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler
  • Dan Totten
  • Vernon Walker

Carolyn Magid, Matthew Schreiner and Henry Wortis, Our Revolution Cambridge