Improving Inman Square Street Safety: Late Policy Order (21 Responses)

I am heartbroken by the tragic death of a young Cambridge resident, Amanda Phillips, on June 23rd, following a horrific crash on Cambridge Street near Inman Square. The crash is still being investigated by the authorities, but it is known that Amanda was riding her bike and was run over by a truck, reportedly after being “doored” and knocked into the truck’s path. The City Council has received many emails and has been tagged in several Facebook posts, demanding that we take action to improve the safety of the Inman Square area. As the mother of a son Amanda’s age and as a person who enjoys biking around town but often fears for my safety on busy streets, I have sponsored this policy order. I extend my deepest sympathies to Amanda’s family and friends and thank the members of the bike advocacy community for keeping the pressure on us policymakers to take bolder action to live up to our avowed commitment to Vision Zero and Complete Streets.

Policy Order submitted on June 24th* for the City Council agenda for June 27, 2016.

Sponsored by Councillor Devereux, Councillor Carlone and Councillor Mazen

*This is a late policy order. The deadline to submit items for the published agenda was 3pm on Thursday (June 23rd). When a policy order is submitted after the deadline, the Council has to take a vote to consider it at the meeting. Given the urgency of the matter and the fact that we will not hold another regular Monday meeting until August 1st, I hope my colleagues will agree to add it to this Monday’s agenda so that we can discuss it, and hopefully, vote to adopt it.

WHEREAS: The City of Cambridge has committed to Vision Zero and Complete Streets policies to improve safety for all modes, especially vulnerable users like people who walk and bike; and

WHEREAS: The City’s Traffic and Parking Department held a community meeting on June 22nd to present preliminary concept designs for reconfiguring the 5-street intersection at Inman Square, whose crash rate exceeds the MassDOT average and whose long and awkward crossings are known to be particularly dangerous to people who bike and walk; and

WHEREAS: The City of Somerville is reconstructing Beacon Street with protected bike lanes; Beacon Street becomes Hampshire Street in Inman Square and the two streets carry a very high volume of people commuting on bicycles to and from Kendall Square and Boston; and

WHEREAS: On June 23rd, a young Cambridge resident, Amanda Phillips, was tragically killed on Cambridge Street near Inman Square; preliminary reports indicate that she was riding past a line of parked cars when a car door was opened on the driver’s side, knocking Amanda off her bike and into the path of a large truck; and

WHEREAS: “Dooring” is well known to be one of the leading causes of crashes involving people who bike, and protected bike paths are widely preferred by people who bike because the potential for being accidentally doored is greatly reduced and because the potential for cars and delivery trucks blocking on-street bike lanes is also greatly reduced; and

WHEREAS: The City’s Bicycle Network Plan shows protected bike lanes on both Hampshire and Cambridge Streets; now therefore be it

ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to work with Traffic and Parking, DPW, CDD, Fire, Police, Budget and other departments to fast-track plans to completely redesign and reconstruct Inman Square’s dangerous 5-street intersection, prioritizing the safety of people who bike and walk; and be it further

ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to work with all appropriate departments to establish a firm and accelerated timetable and budget for the installation of protected bike lanes on Hampshire and Cambridge Streets;and be it further

ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to work with Public Safety officials, the Public Information Office and other staff to launch a high-profile public education campaign on the dangers of “dooring” to people who bike;and be it further

ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to require all city contractors operating trucks in Cambridge to install safety side guards as soon as possible; and be it further

ORDERED: That a future public plaza created as part of the redesign of Inman Square be dedicated in memory of Amanda Phillips.

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    Jan Devereux
    City Councillor
    Cambridge, MA