Cambridge City

Committee Report
CRT 2019 #19
Apr 8, 2019 5:30 PM

A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Craig A. Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on February 27, 2019 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code in Title Twelve entitled “Streets, Sidewalks and Public Places” by adding a new Chapter 12.22 entitled “Cycling Safety Ordinance”


Department:City Clerk's OfficeSponsors:
Category:Ordinance Committee




Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair

Councillor Craig Kelley, Co-Chair

Vice Mayor Jan Devereux

Councillor Allana M. Mallon

Mayor Marc C. McGovern

Councillor Sumbull Siddiqui

Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Jr.

Councillor E. Denise Simmons

Councillor Quinton Zondervan

In City Council March 18, 2019


The Ordinance Committee, comprised of the entire membership of the City Council, held a public hearing on February 27, 2019 at 5:34 PM in the Sullivan Chamber.


The purpose of the hearing was to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code in Title Twelve entitled “Streets, Sidewalks and Public Places” by adding a new Chapter 12.22 entitled “Cycling Safety Ordinance” (ATTACHMENT A).


Present at the hearing were: Councillor Carlone and Councillor Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Committee; Vice Mayor Devereux; Councillor Mallon; Mayor McGovern; Councillor Siddiqui; Councillor Toomey; Councillor Zondervan; Louis DePasquale, City Manager; Lisa Peterson, Deputy City Manager; Commissioner of Public Works, Owen O’Riordan; Police Commissioner Branville Bard; Lieutenant Frederic Riley, Traffic Enforcement Unit, Police Department; Director of Transportation and Environmental Planning, CDD, Susanne Rasmussen; Cara Seiderman, Transportation Program Manager, CDD; Director of Transportation, Traffic and Parking Joseph Barr; City Solicitor Nancy Glowa; Will Durbin, Chief of Staff for Mayor McGovern; and City Clerk Donna P. Lopez.


Also present were: Sam Feigenbaum and Ruthann Rudel, Cambridge Bike Safety; George Schneeloch, 81 School Street, Somerville; Mark Boswell, 105 Walden Street; Randy Stern, 12 Kenwood Street; Kimberley Hunt, 18 10 Wendell Street; John Pitkin, 18 Fayette Street; Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler, 19 Trowbridge Street; Gavin Lund, 166 Charles Street; Annie Tuan, 129 Franklin Street; Yurij Lojko, 18 Lawrence Street, Medford; Eric Garrick, 6C Chester Street; Ted Feldman, 48 Gorham Street, Somerville; Itamar Turner-Traunig, 139 Oxford Street; Janie Katz-Christy, 166A Elm Street; Beth Wilson, Somerville; Nate Filmore, 13 Marcella Street and Ann Dinoto, Arlington.


Councillor Carlone convened the hearing and stated the purpose.  He announced that the hearing was being audio and video recorded.  He outlined the format of the hearing: petitioners, City staff, clarification questions by the City Council, public comment and then recommendations and next steps.


Mayor McGovern made introductory remarks.  He thanked all those involved with the drafting of the Cycling Safety Ordinance.  He thanked all who attended City Council meetings, speaking to make the streets safer, greener and healthier for all, including cyclists and pedestrians.  He stated that he hoped that this ordinance will set expectations for use of the street spaces and how infrastructure work will occur.  He noted that the ordinance establishes predictability for businesses and neighborhoods and insures that the installation of permanent bike lanes is part of a thoughtful process that considers the whole streetscape.  He spoke about the benefits of the Western Avenue infrastructure improvements.  He stated that Cambridge is capable of creating streets that work for all modes of transportation.  He stated that the City has been discussing making streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists for a long time and there has been no shortage of research, studies and public comment, rallies and meetings, but there are still too many injuries and fatalities on the streets.  He commented that he never wants to attend another “ghost bike” memorial again.  He added that talk and process alone will not create the network of safe bike infrastructure that is needed.  He stated that the drafting of this ordinance was a team effort and represents reasonable compromise on both sides to bring Cambridge to a necessary place. 


At this time Mr. Durbin introduced Cambridge Bike Safety volunteers Mr. Feigenbaum and Ruthann Rudel.  Mr. Durbin stated that Cambridge Bicycle Safety will go over the purpose and goals.  He stated that he will present the ordinance text.  He stated that the City departments will discuss the process and implementation.  He proceeded with the Presentation (ATTACHMENT B).


Ruthann Rudel discussed Cambridge Bike Safety’s purpose and goals.  She added that Cambridge enacted many bike infrastructure improvements, such as Vision Zero, the Vehicle Trip Reduction Ordinance, Growth Policy Document, the Climate Protection Plan and zoning changes.  She stated that the City Council has goals for Healthy Community and the Environment and improving public safety. She stated that making it possible to bike safely in Cambridge is consistent with all of those policies. 


She stated that redesigning roads to create safe space for cyclists is difficult to achieve; it is controversial to reallocate road space.  She noted that this ordinance is intended to address some of the obstacles.  She spoke about cycling accidents that have occurred trying to cycle around the City.  She stated that Cambridge’s data show that first responders are called to a crash involving a bike and motor vehicle once every three days.  She spoke about the different levels of experience of cyclists and that the road needs to be made safer for cyclists to accommodate the different levels of experience.  She stated that 60% of residents were interested in cycling, but are concerned about safety, and 81% preferred protected bike lanes as a way to move around the City.  She stated that some active bicyclists are enthusiastic about protected bike lanes and some aren’t.  The protected bike lanes are built to make cycling comfortable for all ages and experience levels to get around the City safely.  This is how there will be a sustainable mode shift. 


She stated that the quick-build protected bike lane on Cambridge Street received a one-year report of data and bike crashes were reduced from 5 to 2. No pedestrian crashes were reported. Motor vehicle speed was reduced from 31 to 25 MPH.  She also highlighted the benefits of the installation of the Western Avenue Cycle track.  She stated that 40% of common crashes in Cambridge involve dooring and would be prevented by protected bike lanes.


Mr. Feigenbaum stated that the data for the Cambridge and Western Avenue bike lanes indicates that speed has been reduced.  This is significant regarding whether a cyclist will survive from a crash with a motor vehicle.  He added that an individual hit by a car traveling 40 MPH is more likely to die than a car traveling 20 MPH.  He stated that with a network of protected bike lanes there will be less of a “Wild West” mentality on the roads.  Cyclists will behave more predictively because cyclists have a full network of reserved space.  This relieves stress for all users.  This also promotes transportation equity by reducing greenhouse gas and promotes good health.


Mr. Durbin spoke about the purpose statement from the ordinance.  He spoke about the legislative background of the ordinance.  Language was finalized in November and December and then introduced to the City Council. He reviewed the definitions.  He stated that improvements do not include repairs to City streets.  He stated that there are only two requirements.  The first is when improvements are made to a City-owned street. Under the City’s Street and Sidewalk Reconstruction Plan, the City Manager shall ensure improvements comply with the Cambridge Bicycle Plan or any superseding plan. If improvements are made to a segment of a separated network, a permanent separated bike lane with adequate directionality shall be installed along the segment. He added that there are two exceptions under Requirements B.  He spoke about how the ordinance will be made effective and highlighted rare circumstances. 


At this time City Staff gave a presentation (ATTACHMENT C).  DPW Commissioner O’Riordan gave a brief background of the Five-Year Sidewalk and Street Reconstruction Plan.  This is included in the proposed ordinance, as it contains streets and sidewalks that the City anticipates repairing in five years.  He stated that the program has been in place since 2007.  He stated that the FY 2018 map shows the projected improvements to streets and large utility projects.  The five-year plan promotes the Complete Streets philosophy and Vision Zero.  He stated that Complete Streets are designed to be accessible for everyone.  He stated that by the City Council adopted Complete Streets and Vision Zero, and since 2016 there has been more State funding received by the City.  He stated that other policies and plans such as the Pedestrian Plan, Bike Plan, Transit Plan, Climate Change Plan, and Urban Forest are all developing plans for the streets.   He stated that the Vehicle Trip Ordinance and Cambridge Growth Policy promote livability and improved air quality by reducing gas emissions.  He spoke about ways to improve mobility.  He stated that a Traffic Calming Program has been enacted for twenty years.  The core goal of the Five-Year Plan was to look at accessibility across the City.  He spoke about sidewalks and streets being more welcoming to all.  He explained what the City looks at in terms the sidewalks being accessible.  He explained the criteria taken into consideration when doing sidewalk reconstruction.  He stated that the Bike Plan contains a framework for providing accessibility for Complete Streets across the City.  He spoke about accessibility for people using public transit.  He stated that the City infrastructure is improved to provide a more efficient and better experience for those who use public transit.  He spoke about street trees and the City is considering more ways to plant trees in the public right of way to provide mitigation for urban heat island impact.  He stated that the Five-Year Plan will be updated this year.


Ms. Suzanne Rasmussen spoke about the 2015 Bike Plan (ATTACHMENT D), which is the starting point for the ordinance.  She stated that the Bike Plan will be updated. 


Ms. Cara Seiderman stated that the Bike Plan was published in 2015 and the overall vision is for the City to have a Street Network that accommodates cycling as a mode of transportation for those of all ages and ability.  She added that there are many other elements needed to support cycling in the Bike Plan, including bike parking, expanding the Bluebikes program and cycling classes. The Bike Plan is available online.  She noted that the data is continually being reviewed to analyze volume, crashes and determine when more immediate action is needed.  She explained the importance of bike comfort and safety for cyclists. Examples were provided to explain the bicycle level of comfort.  There was map outlining the bicycle level of comfort.  She spoke about what a separated bike lane would look like and that there are many ways to create a separated bike lane.  The existing and planned network were reviewed with the major destinations and a network of streets that connected the major destinations together with a comfort level of the streets to determine what the best locations for separated bike lanes.  She stated that the ordinance focuses on the purple on the map which are the more major street corridors.  She stated that the full network contains all the elements.  She stated that there will be a technical update in the revised Bike Plan and adding items to the toolbox and adding Vision Zero into the Bike Plan.  There will be a feasibility assessment to add new sections to the Bike Plan update and an implementation plan.  This will take about 18 months with a robust community process. 


Ms. Rasmussen stated that there are exemptions in the ordinance.  She spoke about physical features of the street that would prevent a protected bike facility to be installed, the usage of street and the financial constraints. 


Councillor Toomey noted that the cycling safety ordinance does not include mandatory helmet requirements and proper lights on bikes at night. He questioned why was this omitted.  Ms. Seiderman responded that there is a state and City law requiring lights at night.  The City provides lights for free at all City events and advocacy groups help install lights on bikes.  Bluebikes have built in lights.  State law mandates the use of helmets for those 16 years of age and under.   She added that these facilities are safer because they prevent crashes and a helmet will not prevent a crash.  She stated that this is to prevent crashes from happening at all.  Councillor Toomey stated that he wanted the Police Department to provide information on how many citations were issued for bikes without lights at night. 


Councillor Kelley stated that more can be done than this ordinance.  He expressed concern with the exceptions regarding physical features of the street, usage of the street and financial constraints.   He stated that the ordinance seems constrained. He doesn’t want the ordinance to make things worse for cyclists creating unsafe conditions.  He asked if the City has the authority not to follow this ordinance from a financial implication that would make it worse for cyclists.   Ms. Rasmussen stated that if the City Manager determined that this was not feasible it would be documented in a public report explaining why this was detrimental from the usage of the street perspective.  Councillor Kelley stated that in 12.22.040 (B) he wanted to know that there is discretion for safety in the ordinance.  Ms. Rasmussen stated that safety is paramount in all City street designs. 


Vice Mayor Devereux asked if this will be part of the upcoming 18-month study to look at where these three exceptions can arise.  Ms. Rasmussen stated that this is intended to last into the future.  Ms. Seiderman stated physical features are easier to identify and less likely to change.  She spoke about looking at the corridors and looking at the barriers.  Mr. Feigenbaum stated that the compromise was to keep the exceptions definition open ended to give the City Manager adequate discretion when needed. She added that the rare circumstances language is to keep the exception truly a rarity and not becoming a standard operating procedure. Mr. Durbin stated that this was to tie the Cambridge Bike Plan and the Five-Year Construction Plan together.


Councillor Zondervan stated that Hampshire Street’s vision plan included separated bike lanes, but they could not be installed without removing significant amounts of car storage. He asked if Hampshire Street were updated under the ordinance would separate bike lanes be installed.  Ms. Rasmussen stated that these decisions are not being made now.  She stated that in the future the demand for parking will decrease because of the use of autonomous vehicles that do not need to park along the street.  She added that this is about looking at the network and connecting all the destinations and this has been the process to lay out the network.  Councillor Zondervan commented that if the ordinance is in place the decision to add protected bike lanes on Hampshire Street will be made when the street is up for reconstruction.  Ms. Rasmussen stated that the determination will be made at the time when the street is up for reconstruction.


Councillor Mallon compared the Bike Plan, the Five-Year Construction Plan and the bike network with key destinations and stated that it was helpful to see them all together.  There is another map with what the existing network looks like.  The Bike Plan will look at technical analysis and in 2020 when the Bike Plan is updated there will be an updated network plan that will take the place of the existing one.   Ms. Seiderman stated that some of the things are in place now.  Councillor Mallon asked will any construction for 2019-2020 have bike lanes.  Mr. Barr stated that on the non-capital side there is intention to pursue the quick build strategy for bike lanes that will be used outside of the context of this ordinance and the Five-Year Plan.  Councillor Mallon stated there are still quick builds planned before the Bike Plan is updated.  Mr. Barr responded in the affirmative and the 5 Year Plan is the ultimate way to get this done. Mr. Feigenbaum stated that Cambridge Bike Safety sees this ordinance as a long-term plan.  Councillor Mallon stated that she is happy to support the ordinance and the plans until the Bike Plan is updated. 


Councillor Siddiqui asked for a point of clarification regarding the financial constraints and for this be explained.  Ms. Rasmussen stated there are situations where it would be beyond typical reconstruction costs.  She explained that if it were physically impossible to widen a street to install a separated facility, or it would require the City to take private land by eminent domain, which would be too costly are examples of such constraints.  Councillor Siddiqui asked if the feasibility study would look at this.  Ms. Rasmussen stated that the feasibility will be looking at this.


Mayor McGovern noted that this has taken collaboration on both sides.  He stated that the exceptions are there because the City needs the exceptions.  He stated that this is an ordinance about infrastructure.  He stated that cyclists and motorists do not always follow the rules, and this is a behavioral issue.  This is a commitment to build out the network.


Councillor Carlone opened public comment at 6: 45 PM.


George Schneelock, 81 School Street, Somerville, stated that Allison Donovan died in Somerville. He asked for faster implementation of Vision Zero measures in Somerville.  He stated that signatures were submitted to Somerville and the next day Paula Shraga died in Boston.  This fatality pushed Boston to bring up safety issues.  He stated that safety issues should be addressed and not require advocacy.  He supported the ordinance and rapid implementation is needed to build the separate lanes.  He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT E).


Mark Boswell, 105 Walden Street, spoke about supporting the ordinance as effective motivation to build out the network and would stand along with the Vehicle Trip Ordinance and ADA compliance.  He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT F).


Randy Stern, 12 Kenwood Street, member of the Cambridge Bike Committee, stated he strongly supported the ordinance.  This will empower the City staff around bike infrastructure and noted that every implementation is a tradeoff and facilities will be built.  He stated that if this ordinance were in place there would be protected bike lanes on Huron Avenue.


Kimberly Hunt, 10 Wendell Street, stated her support for the ordinance for permanent protected bike lanes.  She explained why she bikes.  She stated that she is disabled and has cerebral palsy and has difficulty walking.  She relies on public transit and her bike to get around.  She stated that for her cycling is the best way to get around and allows her freedom.  She stated that her commute along a protected route is the best part of her day.  She spoke about her boyfriend who does not bike because of his fear of getting hit by a car.  This ordinance will provide mobility and protected bike lanes will increase biking.  She stated that protected bike lanes are the solution to get people out of their cars.  She submitted her comments (ATTACHMENT G). 


Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler, 19 Trowbridge Street, stated that he is in favor of the ordinance.  He spoke about the high cost of bike lights and helmets.  He stated that issuing citations will not increase light and helmet use and will increase costs for low income residents, the majority of whom are black and brown residents.  He spoke of an accident he had on his bike on Mt. Auburn Street.  He stated that the 2014 plan had protected bike lanes for Mt. Auburn Street but has not occurred.  He stated that adding protected bike lanes on Mt. Auburn Street will be an improvement.  He spoke about multiple deaths for cyclists.  He submitted his comments (ATTACHMENT H).


Gavin Lund, 166 Charles Street, stated his support for the ordinance and is encouraged by the dialogue.  He appreciates the comments made by Mayor McGovern regarding behavior versus infrastructure. 


Annie Tuan, 129 Franklin Street, stated that she is in favor of the cycling safety ordinance.  She shared a story of someone who does not bike.  The woman will not ride a bike on City streets because it is too scary.  She added that building protected bike lanes will allow her friend to bike.


Yurok Loke, 18 Lawrence Street, Medford stated that he bikes to Cambridge every day where he works.  He stated that about 8 months ago he had an accident with an 18-wheeler and spent time in the hospital.  He spoke about the recent fatal death in Somerville.  He noted that trucks in the Boston area killed 8-13 cyclists over the last five years.  He urged adding off road bike paths and for the city to be creative.  He spoke about maintaining off road bike paths. 


Eric Garnick, 6C Chester Street, stated that he has been cycling in Cambridge since 1970 and acknowledged the improvements.  He stated that horseback riding is more dangerous than cycling.  He stated that perception is a significant aspect of the issue.  He spoke about the speeding on a one-lane side street, Orchid Street.


Ted Feldman, 48 Gorham Street, Somerville, stated that he is a member of the Somerville Bicycle Advisory Committee.  He stated that this is a good first step in the right direction for safety infrastructure.  This is an environmental and equity issues.  He stated that data shows that installing protected bike lanes reduces the stress of riders.  He spoke about working with Somerville on improvements to Webster Avenue, which unfortunately is not part of the street improvement plan for Cambridge.  He asked Cambridge to reconsider improvements to the Cambridge portion of Webster Avenue.  The plan needs to be expanded and the data analyzed.


Itamar Turner-Turing, 130 Oxford Street, supported the ordinance and stated that the key issue is implementation.  He stated that motorists will need more time to find parking and be upset about the bike lanes.  He stated that biking is a low-income transportation and one year of biking is about what a motorist spends on their car for a month. 


Janie Katz-Christie, 166A Elm Street, runs Green Streets Initiative, a multi-modal monthly day of awareness about health and sustainable ways to get around.  She stated that there are 4,000 - 5,000 participants per year.  She stated that her organization promotes all types of car-light transportation.  She stated that she goes out of her way to travel on protective bike lanes.  She stated that cyclists have a right to be in the “lane”.  The law has not been clarified as to who belongs in the lane.  It is unfair to be killed riding a bike. 


Becca Wolfson, Director, Boston Cyclist Union, 114 School Street, Somerville stated that she bikes from Somerville to Roxbury every day.  She stated that this ordinance will be a great step forward.  She stated that no one wishes there were more cars on the road.  She applauded the work and stated that this could unlock more resources and provide efficiency in City government.  She wanted the implementation of the ordinance paired with proper maintenance and robust counting data. She added a connected network is important and wanted streets added in as soon as possible in the network.


Nate Fillmore, 13 Marcella Street, applauded the work of all the City Council, City Manager and the City staff that have worked on this. 


Ann Dinoto, Arlington stated that she has ridden her bike for 15 years but stopped after seeing three bike fatalities.  She stated that the she is afraid to leave her house because of the fatalities that she has witnessed and for fear for her safety. 


At 7:21 PM Councillor Carlone closed public hearing.


Mayor McGovern wanted to move this forward with a favorable recommendation


Vice Mayor Devereux agreed and thanked all who worked on this.  She stated that this is a long-term plan and marks a landmark of shifting attitude and having more protected facilities the momentum will grow.  Cambridge is known for seeing the world differently and seeing inequities and trying to address them.


Councillor Zondervan supported the ordinance passage and implementation.


Councillor Siddiqui commended the Vice Mayor Devereux for her advocacy on this. 


Councillor Kelley supports this but wanted a more discussion on safety for biking. He looks forward to being part of the discussion.


Councillor Carlone stated that this is a basic part of urban design and he wanted planted medians instead of stripped asphalt areas separating cars from bikes.  He thanked all who worked on this.


At this time Mayor McGovern moved that this be forwarded to the full City Council with a favorable recommendation.  The motion carried on vote of six members.


The following communication were received on this matter:


A communication was received from Ryan Frazer, 24 Copley Street, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT I).


A communication was received from Madeleine Daepp, NSF Graduate Research Fellow, MIT, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT J).


A communication was received from Bence Becky in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT K).


A communication was received from Vivid Siri, Allston Street, urging the City Council to pass the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT L).


A communication was received from Kirti Magudia in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT M).


A communication was received from Adriane Musgrave, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT N).


A communication was received from Nate Sharpe, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT O).


A communication was received from Ben Sobel, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT P).


A communication was received from Cindy Bishop, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT Q).


A communication was received from Adam Beerman, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT R).


A communication was received from Christopher Cassa, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT S).


A communication was received from Herb Wagner, 163 Brattle Street, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT T).


A communication was received from Jason Rosenman, 346 Harvard Street, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT U).


A communication was received from Jeffrey Finkelstein, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT V).


A communication was received from Caroline Jaffa, 28 Ellsworth Avenue, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT W).


A communication was received from Ann Cason-Snow, 24 Marley Street, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT X).


A communication was received from Jesse Boudart, 108 Elm Street, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT Y).


A communication was received from Alexander Frieden, 4 Lake Street, Somerville, urging the City Council to vote on the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT Z).


A communication was received from Joan Hill, 18 Banks Street, urging the input into the Cycling Safety Ordinance of the disabled and senior population (ATTACHMENT AA).


A communication was received from Dien Ho, 395 Broadway, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT BB).


A communication was received from Catherine Melnikow, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT CC).


A communication was received from Julian Astbury, 92 Wendell Street, in support of the Cycling Safety Ordinance (ATTACHMENT DD).


Councillor Carlone and Councillor Kelley thanked all those present for their attendance.             


The hearing adjourned at 7:29 PM.                                                                     


                                                        For the Committee,


                                                        Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair

                                                        Councillor Craig Kelley, Co-Chair

                                                                      Ordinance Committee



Meeting History

Mar 18, 2019 5:30 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting
draft Draft


Apr 1, 2019 5:30 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting
draft Draft
RESULT:NO ACTION TAKENNext: 4/8/2019 5:30 PM
Apr 8, 2019 5:30 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting
draft Draft


YEAS:Dennis J. Carlone, Jan Devereux, Craig A. Kelley, Alanna Mallon, Marc C. McGovern, Sumbul Siddiqui, Quinton Zondervan
ABSENT:E. Denise Simmons