On April 8 we adopted the Cycling Safety Ordinance, which has drawn national media attention as a “historic” and “the first of its kind” step toward recognizing that a network of physically protected bike lanes should become a standard part of safe street design in cities, just like sidewalks. I’m proud to have been one of the leaders who first signed on to support of this back in 2017 when advocates from Cambridge Bicycle Safety proposed it (here’s their FAQ on what the ordinance requires).
The widely read urban planning blog CityLab also gave us a shout-out, though the writer referred to Cambridge as a “Boston suburb” (ouch!).
The Boston Globe editorial page called it a “bike lane program to emulate.”
Here is what I said before I case my vote during the City Council meeting:
It’s great for our city to be recognized for passing an ordinance that has been called “historic” — I suppose the first paved sidewalks may have been considered historic, too.
Adopting this Cycling Safety Ordinance isn’t about making headlines or about inspiring more “Cambridge envy” among some Boston residents — it’s about making the safety of all road users our highest priority. Now that a significant number of people are biking and many more have said they would bike if it were safer — and after several tragic fatalities recently in places that were crying out for separated bike facilities — we are acknowledging that we’ve got work to do in changing cultural norms and reallocating the space on our public way.
Adopting this ordinance is a first step, and as many have noted it’s not going to yield a complete network right away. And we urgently need that network to protect our family, friends, neighbors, students, and workers of all ages who are biking and those who would if they could rely on a protected network to connect them to key destinations.
So tonight I’m celebrating the commitment of both city officials and safety advocates that produced this ordinance — it’s no small achievement — and tomorrow I’lll be back to stand with road safety advocates to press for more quick build bike lane improvements, more enforcement of traffic rules, and more education for everyone moving through our city.
It’s not only about infrastructure but without improved infrastructure we are not doing our duty to protect the public.
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Jan Devereux City Councillor Cambridge, MA