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|Craig Kelley for Cambridge City Council in 2015|
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. . . It is a tragedy that people have to die to highlight public safety issues in Cambridge . . .
In last week's Chronicle, two covers stories told of the deaths of two cyclists in separate accidents in Cambridge. On behalf of the North Cambridge Stabilization Committee (NCSC), I would like to extend our sympathies to the friends and families of the victims.
The NCSC hopes that the Cambridge Community Development Department (CDD) will learn from these tragic accidents and pay more attention to public safety issues in the future. Specifically, the NCSC asks, as it has for several years, that CDD revisit its plans to remove half of the North Mass Ave median strip and install a bike lane from Arlington to Porter Square. As was so sadly evident in the Central Square accident, painted bike lanes do not provide the same level of cycling safety that our concrete and brick median strip does. CDD must ensure that the median strip remains essentially intact under any future upgrade plans.
The NCSC also hopes that CDD, along with the Cambridge City Council, will take a more proactive approach to promoting safe crossings of the North Cambridge railroad line. While there is little one can do about a person who apparently ignored the warning gates and lights, the fact remains that these tracks have been killing people in North Cambridge for years and the City has done virtually nothing to alleviate the situation.
Of immediate concern is the Yerxa Road underpass, which has been closed for months as an emergency precaution due to structural problems. Ms. Rubenstein, the director of CDD, informed the NCSC in April that she hoped emergency repairs to the underpass would be completed by mid-June. Now it is mid-July and, according to CDD, the City is still negotiating with the MBTA about how to fix the underpass and, in the interim, children still hop the fence and cross the tracks at grade level. Additionally the City Council, which for years has avoided funding the planned extensive renovations of this dark, awkward underpass, must find the money in this year's budget to start the work needed to make this crossing safe and convenient for all who live in the area.
It is a tragedy that people have to die to highlight public safety issues in Cambridge. It would be an even greater tragedy if we don't learn from these sad deaths.
Craig A. Kelley
July 15, 2002