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|Craig Kelley for Cambridge City Council in 2015|
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. . . the City has a lousy record of fixing dangerous transportation problems . . .
Do it right the first time
When a cyclist was killed in Central Square's bike lanes this past summer, the City halted plans to put bike lanes down Hampshire Street. Nonetheless, the City is rushing headlong to completely remove the median strip in front of the Porter Square Post Office to install deadly bike lanes.
The median strip removal makes absolutely no sense. Other elements of the Porter Square redesign- the crosswalks, signals, etc- are not related to the median removal. They can go forward and the median safety island can stay. But to take away the safety island solely to install a bike lane that encourages cyclists to ride in the deadly "door zone" is beyond foolhardy, it's irresponsible. The recent roadwork at Fresh Pond, another 4 lane road just like Porter Square's Mass Ave, actually installed a safety median strip.
It is important to remember that the City has a lousy record of fixing dangerous transportation problems. Years after the City developed plans to fix Huron Village's dangerous crossings by installing a safety median, nothing has been done and the safety flags and caution barrel for the crosswalk are regularly missing. In Central Square, the deadly bikelanes are still constantly full of double-parked cars, including police cruisers. In North Cambridge, the Railroad Crossing improvements were recently stripped of funds (allegedly to be replaced this year) despite multiple deaths over the years. We need to remember that just because something is dangerous does not mean the City will fix it quickly or efficiently.
When the City removes the median strip in front of the Post Office, people will be hurt and quite possibly killed there. The City has no concrete data that shows removing the median strip will make anyone's life safer. Both common sense and history indicate that the removal will make the street more dangerous for all who use it. Sadly, when that danger is clear, history also indicates that we'll wait for years until the City fixes the dangerous conditions it created to begin with.
The simplest, and safest, solution is to keep the median strip as it is and move forward with the areas of the redesign that actually promote public safety, not endanger it.
January 27, 2003