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|Craig Kelley for Cambridge City Council in 2015|
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. . . Anyone who is at all familiar with Cambridge's dangerous traffic has his or her own host of similar stories . . .
Council orders without enforcement mean nothing
This morning, while biking back from dropping my son off at school, I saw a car run a red light at the junction of Mass Ave and Walden Street and miss a lady in the crosswalk by the narrowest of margins. On Saturday, a car ran the red light at the end of Dover Street and missed hitting my car, with my wife and eldest son in the "death" seats by no more than two feet. A few days before that, my wife was helping my younger son's preschool class cross Mass Ave near Porter Square and yet another car ran a red light, almost hitting the class' teacher.
Anyone who is at all familiar with Cambridge's dangerous traffic has his or her own host of similar stories, yet neither the Cambridge Police Department nor our elected politicians seem willing or able to effectively address this important public safety issue. The CPD doesn't even mention 'traffic enforcement' on its home page, actually charges citizens for providing traffic enforcement statistics and refuses to require officers to give citations for traffic violations. Ironically, the official CPD line is that we'd all be happy if we didn't get cited for driving our cars in an unsafe manner, even if that results in an accident.
Similarly, the City Council is happy to pass Council Orders about traffic safety, but, collectively and as individuals, Councilors lack the stomach to actually demand any meaningful improvement. As an example, Councilor Toomey, who collects a second salary as a State Representative from East Cambridge and part of Somerville, was proud of a Council Order he proposed in 1994. This Council Order called for increased enforcement of motorists ignoring pedestrians in crosswalks. Unfortunately, anyone walking anywhere in Cambridge knows how useless this order has been. In fact, the best safety measure that Mr. Toomey's order provides is for pedestrians to wad it into a paper ball and throw it at the cars blasting past. If Councilor Toomey really cared about public safety, he would have, in the intervening eight years, constantly insisted that the City Manager and the Police Commissioner make, and keep, our streets safe. A City Councilor who cared could make a difference, but perhaps he's too busy being a state rep to attend to such local concerns.
I hope that Councilor Toomey chooses to focus on being either a state rep or a City Councilor. My family's safety, and that of everyone else in Cambridge, is far too important for him to try to do both jobs.