An Equitable Transit Response.
My transit priorities are improving safety for our most vulnerable road users and encouraging a just transition away from cars as quickly as possible. Too many of our friends and neighbors are being killed as we bend over backwards to prioritize the convenience of personal motor vehicles over everything else. We need to become serious about reallocating road space to make walking, biking, and public transit safer and more efficient for everyone. The city has not moved fast enough in this direction, and it is inexcusable. I am also a strong advocate for improvements to our public transit at the state level, including making it free for all riders.
Next steps: I will advocate to install protected bike lanes along the entire length of Mass Ave as soon as possible and to complete capital improvements and quick-build projects on Hampshire, Webster, Broadway, and in Porter Square. We must connect and expand protected bike lanes to ensure that riders are not exposed to heavy-duty traffic. These improvements must include bus transit priority and pedestrian safety.
Next Steps: I will begin a stakeholder conversation with the goal of introducing a home rule petition that would legalize the so-called “Idaho Stop” in Cambridge.
Next steps: I will file a home rule petition that would allow Cambridge to assess a congestion pricing fee on rideshare trips. I will also work with state legislators to push for universally free public transit, and to demand that rideshare companies pay their workers a living wage.
Next steps: I co-sponsored a recent policy order asking the City Manager to begin this work in Harvard Square in time for the summer of 2020. I will continue to meet with stakeholders and city staff to make sure we can begin the transition towards car free Sundays in all the major squares, starting with Harvard Square in the summer of 2020.
As part of this project the Alliance would like to see a reduction in motor vehicle lanes, safe bicycle infrastructure, separated paths for cyclists and pedestrians, and mature tree preservation. This project needs to prioritize the safety and comfort of all park users without sacrificing any mature trees, including the iconic sycamores, which would not survive any expansion or major disturbance of the road bed because of their sensitive root systems. We will need a road diet (fewer motor vehicle lanes) to accomplish these priorities given the significant space constraints and safety concerns of the current configuration. One case study looked at over 100 locations that had experienced vehicular capacity reduction either intentionally or through a disaster and found not a single instance of long-term traffic chaos or prolonged gridlock resulting from such a change. This is remarkable and understandably hard to fathom, but we can choose a safer, more accessible parkland for all without making traffic any worse than current conditions. The best way to get people out of gas-guzzling vehicles and improve congestion is to actually make it safe and convenient to use alternative transit modes.
The city has very little control over the fate of this project, as the state owns the land, but our advocacy through the Alliance has gotten the attention of DCR and our State Representatives, and we will continue to push for these objectives. So far I’ve advocated for an expanded process, met with various state and local officials, and put the city council on record in support of our efforts.
Next steps: I will continue working with the Memorial Drive Alliance to advocate for a park with fewer vehicle lanes, safe bicycle infrastructure, separated paths for cyclists and pedestrians, and mature tree preservation.
Next steps: I will continue to advocate for this approach as the city deepens its mobility planning efforts. And I will work with local transit and mobility advocates to organize and build momentum around this idea, because ultimately it will only happen if the people demand it.
Next steps: I will continue to advocate for more publicly accessible charging stations in parallel to improving transit and incentivizing people to move away from cars altogether. I will also continue insisting that we electrify our municipal fleet as rapidly as possible.I’ve been advocating for climate adaptation in Cambridge ever since I joined the Climate Protection Action Committee in 2008 and began advocating for a climate vulnerability assessment. It took more than a decade, but that assessment was finally finished last year and shows that Cambridge can expect more extreme heat and flooding events caused by climate change in the coming decades. It also found that areas of the city where our most vulnerable communities live tend to be the areas that are most vulnerable to the worst effects of climate change. This is deeply concerning, and I strongly supported the citizen-initiated Climate Safety Petition last summer. Despite near-universal praise for many elements of the petition, which would have codified protections from heat and flooding in new construction, the council tragically voted it down out of concerns it would impact the rate of development, which means we won’t be able to re-file any similar petition for two years. Instead, the city has appointed a task force to discuss the issue. It should be noted that just 3 days after the climate safety petition was voted down, 11.9 acres in the Alewife Quadrangle were sold to a prominent developer (Cabot) for 79 million dollars. That parcel would have been impacted by the petition!
Next steps: As co-chair of the Health & Environment Committee, I will continue holding joint hearings with the city-appointed task force to monitor progress and accelerate any resulting proposals. Unlike the current council majority, I will never prioritize short-term developer profits over long term residential safety.
One alternative to freewheeling Silicon Valley startups experimenting on our streets is to use the City’s own bikeshare system, BlueBikes, to explore these transit options. Consumers having to use multiple apps, each with their own set of rules, is not conducive to successful deployment of this technology. It makes sense to use our municipally-owned infrastructure to pilot new approaches and technologies in a safe and controlled manner. Using Bluebikes also avoids the pitfalls of the “gig economy” and already operates a regional network which is critical to the success of these new modes. The Bluebikes operator, Motivate, has already implemented electric bike and dockless solutions in other systems it operates, including Citi Bike in New York City. Adding a scooter option doesn’t seem like a big stretch, once the state law has been updated to allow it.
Regardless of how we move forward, here are some concerns I have that need to be addressed as part of any pilot:
- Workers need to be paid a living wage and trained adequately for their duties
- There must be equitable rebalancing of devices to ensure all neighborhoods have access (using electric vans, as soon as possible!)
- Electric devices cannot operate on sidewalks and cannot litter the right of way. The operator must actively prevent these situations, for example by safely disabling the electric motor if it detects sidewalk use, and quickly remedy inappropriate device storage
Next steps: I will continue to advocate with the City for a micromobility pilot through blue bikes next summer.
- Explore ways to incentivize new and smaller models for delivering freight in the city
- Encourage use of truck new designs that reduce turning radius and blind spots
- Employ emergency braking technologies that activate brakes automatically to prevent or mitigate collisions.
Next steps: I will continue to push back against federal efforts to allow increased truck size, and advocate for universal requirements that trucks install side guards to avoid worst-case scenarios if there is an accident with a pedestrian or cyclist.