A Crash Course in Bicycle Safety?

Beth Redmond's picture

Cambridge City Council Meeting Hears Pros and Cons on Bike Lanes

  • Bike parking on Brattle Street in Harvard Square
  • Protected Bike Lane at Brattle and Mason Street intersection
  • Bike Lane marking at a cross street on Brattle Street
  • A Motorist Turning onto Bratltle Street from Mt Auburn in Harvard Square
  • The New Parking Areas for Cars and Bikes in the Middle of Brattle Street
Bike parking on Brattle Street

This past Monday, August 8th, I attended the Special City Council Meeting in the Attles room at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. With nowhere left to sit down unless one considered the floor an option, (and some did) I listened to a stream of comments offered by Cambridge residents, and people who work in Cambridge who also ride bicycles to get to work, to shop, for exercise, and recreation in Cambridge.  Speakers told stories of accidents they themselves had experienced while biking on Cambridge streets and of friends, family members, or neighbors who had. A few examples included:


  • a woman who was hit by a car making a right turn in front of her where there were no bike lanes
  • a man who was hit by a van on Sherman St where there are no bike lanes
  • two fatalities in 2016, one in Porter Square and another in Inman Square that could have been prevented if there had been protected bike lanes 
  • a woman who was 'doored' by a driver and fell off her bike
  • a woman trying to get around Uber drivers obstructing bike lanes
  • a mother with her child on her bike trying to proceed safely without the benefit of bike lanes 
  • a cyclist who was hit and nearly killed in a collision by a driver making an illegal left turn in front of her 

Quite a number of additional hair raising comments and stories were offered as well. 

See the video below of Inman Square where 30,000 motor vehicles roll through every day of the week.  For additional information on the community discussion and planning regarding safety concerns in Inman Square go to https://www.cambridgema.gov/traffic/News/2016/06/inmansqtrafficstudyinfo...

While many cyclists are passionate about speeding up the process of constructing protected bicycle lanes in Cambridge there are others who are not convinced that this will be the best course of action. On Brattle Street in Harvard Square where a two-way pop-up bicycle lane and significant changes to the parking situation were made many worries were expressed about the impact on businesses there. There were questions about cab parking and some felt that the amount of public discourse on the issue was lacking, that the planning of the Brattle bike lanes and parking is not adequate, is imperfect and did not include enough thought for the impact upon businesses. 

While no one wants to see businesses harmed, bicycle safety in Cambridge needs to be a priority and there is much to be learned about how the fostering of bicycling in our city can provide a welcome and significant boost to Cambridge businesses.  I look forward to seeing businesses thrive due to greater bike safety and encouraged use of bikes and reduced reliance on motor vehicles in general.  With a safer environment for all types of bicycle usage I envision a win-win situation! 

Certainly this discussion will rage on!  

To learn more about community reactions to the newest bike lanes in Cambridge see http://www.cambridgeday.com/2017/08/08/bike-lane-battle-over-brattle-bre...