Drivers, double check your speed next time you visit Cambridge. In mid-November, the city plans a slow down to 20 mph on most city-owned streets. The city says, when in doubt, go 20 mph.
The City of Cambridge announced the new 20 mph speed limit this week, a decision made in response to residents’ concerns about speeding vehicles and the risk for pedestrian accidents and injuries to cyclists. Cambridge follows Boston and Somerville in pursuing 20 mph speeds on certain city streets. Each city has a VisionZero safety campaign and is working to eliminate traffic fatalities.
Cambridge first lowered speed limits from 30 to 25 mph on most city-owned streets in December 2016. The Massachusetts Legislature granted cities and towns this authority earlier that year with passage of the Municipal Modernization Law. Specifically, communities were given the authority to lower speeds from 30 to 25 mph in locally-owned thickly settled areas.
In response, dozens of communities adopted 25 mph speed limits to reduce the risk of accidents. Few have pursued 20 mph – yet.
But according to the City of Cambridge’s announcement, the law allows communities to establish 20 mph “safety zones” in the interest of public safety. Cambridge will be installing 660 new “safety zone” signs.
The City of Somerville has also taken advantage of this provision of the law. Last we knew, the City of Boston – which was the first to pursue 25 mph, then 20 mph speeds – was still working on the issue. Here is our last update on Massachusetts speed limits (though please note: there may have been additional action since then).
Check a street: Not every street in Cambridge will be impacted. Larger streets like Brattle Street and Cambridge Street will stick with current speeds. Roads under state management – such as Memorial Drive – will not change. You can check out the map here: www.cambridgema.gov/20mph.
It’s worth noting Cambridge’s squares – including Harvard Square, Lechmere Square and Porter Square – won’t see any change. The city lowered speeds to 20 mph back in early 2018.
Cambridge’s Influence on Traffic Safety
Cambridge has been ambitious in making traffic safety improvements. In addition to lowering speeds, the city announced a new City Safety Ordinance earlier this year. The city made the commitment to add permanent separated bike lanes whenever it reconstructs roads identified in the Cambridge Bicycle Plan. With full build out, this would give the city an impressive 20 miles of protected bike lanes. Cambridge Bicycle Safety, a local group, said this could reduce 40 percent of Cambridge bicycle accidents, the one which occur outside intersections.
The city, while committed, does concede there may be cases when these bike lanes aren’t possible due to road conditions.
The bottom line is Cambridge has such a strong influence on transportation in the Boston region, just by virtue of its geography. It borders Somerville, Boston, Arlington, Belmont and Watertown. And because it’s one of the largest cities in Massachusetts, its work to promote safety will be watched across the state and nationally.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Pedestrian Car Accident Lawyers
Breakstone, White & Gluck has represented accident victims in Boston, Cambridge and across Massachusetts since 1992. Our attorneys are dedicated to our clients and our results. We provide the prompt and thorough investigation required after pedestrian car accidents and bicycle crashes.
If you have been injured by a driver, we offer a free legal consultation to advise you on whether you may pursue a financial claim for your injuries and other losses. Consult one of our personal injury attorneys today at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.
Over the past few years, there has been a growing sense of excitement about safer cycling in Cambridge. With a vote this week, the Cambridge City Council has signaled there is more to come.
The City of Cambridge has many bike lanes, but in 2017, city officials accelerated development of protected bike lanes, which place a physical barrier or extra room and road markings between cyclists and traffic. The city did this with a heavy heart, after fatal bicycle crashes claimed the lives of two cyclists in 2016. One of the cyclists was killed in Inman Square in a dooring crash; the other died in a bicycle collision with a truck in Porter Square.
Then, during 2017, the City of Cambridge rolled out new bike lanes in key travel corridors, including Brattle Street in Harvard Square and Massachusetts Avenue, near Cambridge Rindge & Latin, more than a mile altogether. The city finished the year with 25.8 miles of bike lanes, including 4.2 miles of separated bike lanes, according to a report by Wicked Local Cambridge.
Since then, cyclists and safety groups, such as Cambridge Bicycle Safety, have urged the Cambridge City Council to do more. This week, the City Council approved the Cycling Safety Ordinance, paving the way for more protected bike lanes.
The ordinance calls on the city to add protected bike lanes when roads identified by the Cambridge Bicycle Plan are reconstructed. Once complete, the bicycle plan will create an impressive 20-mile network of protected bike lanes.
The ordinance means residents no longer have to lobby for protected bike lanes when roads are rebuilt. Until now, city officials have had to grant permission on a street-by-street basis or not at all.
There may still be some debate though. The city manager can ultimately veto construction of a protected bike lane based on factors such as a street’s physical layout or the costs. If this happens, the manager must document the reason in writing.
Cambridge officials say they are unaware of any other communities in Massachusetts or across the U.S. which have adopted such a far-reaching policy to create protected bike lanes.
We suspect bicycle committees and planners far and wide will be watching. Protected bike lanes improve safety for cyclists, but the impact goes further by giving everyone on the road clear markings to follow. For drivers and their passengers, these markings are visual reminders not to drive, park or open vehicle doors in bike lanes or they could cause a bicycle crash in Cambridge or any other U.S. city.
StreetsBlog reported on a 2012 study on bike lanes published by the American Journal of Public Health. The study found cyclists on streets with bike lanes had a 50 percent lower chance of injury over streets without bike lanes. Meanwhile, protected bike lanes had the potential to reduce injuries by as much as 90 percent, which is a tremendous figure. Even multi-use paths and off-street trails had a lesser impact, reducing injury by 60 percent compared to roads with bike infrastructure.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston and Cambridge Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in representing cyclists and pedestrians who have been injured by the negligence of drivers and rideshare vehicles in Massachusetts. If you have been injured, the most important step you can take is to learn your legal rights for seeking compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact our Cambridge bicycle accident attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Safety for pedestrians and cyclists is a top concern in Central Square in Cambridge.
Central Square is located around the intersection of Prospect Street, Massachusetts Avenue and Western Avenue in Cambridge. This area is a commuter hub; the Central Square MBTA subway station and bus stop are located here, near Cambridge City Hall. The state of Massachusetts has designated Central Square as an official cultural district, for its mix of theater and arts, restaurants and history. The NECCO building was long part of that history, but these days, 250 Massachusetts Avenue is now the Novartis’ global headquarters. The Cambridge YMCA is there and MIT is nearby.
Over the years, there have been numerous pedestrian and bicycle accidents in Central Square. Central Square was the #1 location for bike crashes in Massachusetts from 2005-2014, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). It was the 5th highest pedestrian crash location. The City of Cambridge has worked to improve safety by improving crosswalks and adding bike lanes across the city. In December 2016, new bike lanes were laid down in Central Square, northbound on Massachusetts Avenue between Sydney and Douglass streets.
We recently went up over Central Square. Please take a look and share this blog with anyone who travels in this area, whether they walk, bike, drive or travel by Uber. From a different angle, we hope you gain a better understanding of the traffic in this area.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers fight for justice for those who have been seriously injured by the negligence and wrongdoing of others. Our lawyers have been recognized as among the top personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers in Massachusetts and New England. We are committed to protecting cyclists through our Project KidSafe campaign, which has donated over 15,000 helmets to children in the first 5 years. If you have been injured, learn your rights. Contact us today at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
We had a fun opportunity to see Inman Square from up high a few weeks ago. Here are some of our photos:
The City of Cambridge has worked to improve safety for cyclists in Inman Square, recently adding new separated bike lanes on both sides of Cambridge Street, from Inman Square to Quincy Street, which approaches Harvard Square. This is .7 miles of new bike lanes with paint, flex posts and other temporary materials to help cyclists stand out. And the new lanes pass Cambridge Rindge & Latin, which serves more than 1,900 high school students. Last fall, the city also banned drivers from making certain left turns in Inman Square, after many years of bike crashes followed by a fatal bike accident last June.
Hampshire and Cambridge streets cross at Inman Square. In our photos, you can see a stretch of green bike lanes on Hampshire Street. These intersect with the new bike lanes on Cambridge Street, which are less visible, but they are there.
All the bike lanes look great. We hope they make the commute safer for cyclists and everyone on the roads.
More About Inman Square
Inman Square, known for its distinctive shops and restaurants, comes together around Hampshire and Cambridge streets. But there are several other streets that also meet here, making for a complicated intersection. These include Antrium Street, Fayette Street, Inman Street and Springfield Street. Prospect Street is at the other side of the triangle and the Somerville city line is nearby.
The Inman Square Fire House – or Cambridge Fire Department Station 5 – and the Mayor Alfred E. Vellucci Community Plaza are two Inman Square landmarks. There are also several banks here and a number of businesses named after the neighborhood: Inman Pharmacy, Inman Square Laundromat, Inman Square Hardware, as well as Inman Square Apartments. Restaurants include City Girl Cafe, 1369 Coffee House and Punjabi Dhaba.
This area is not served by a MBTA subway station, so you have to drive, take the bus, walk or bike. The Central Square MBTA is just over a half mile away and Harvard Square is a mile. Because of this, many choose to bike. If you don’t have a bike, Inman Square has a Hubway bike share station.
Cycling is not allowed on the sidewalk (as in most business areas in Massachusetts, unless it is posted otherwise). But riding on the street is not easy. There have been numerous bicycle crashes here over the years. So many that Inman Square has been named the second top bike crash location in Massachusetts (Source: 2014 Top Crash Locations from MassDOT, dated August 2016). Only Central Square in Cambridge sees more bike accidents. In fact, nine out of the 10 top bike crash locations in Massachusetts are in Cambridge and Somerville, which is why the new protected bike lanes are so important.
After years of bike accidents in Inman Square, there was a fatal bike crash in June 2016, when a cyclist was tragically killed right at Hampshire and Cambridge streets. Amanda Phillips, just 27 years old, collided with a Jeep door which was left open. She was then struck by a landscaping truck. A few months later, another cyclist was killed by a truck crash in Porter Square, raising questions about safety there.
Back in Inman Square, the city banned motor vehicle traffic from making left-hand turns on key streets in October 2016. Motorists were banned from turning left from Hampshire Street onto Cambridge Street – and vice versa. They were also prohibited from turning left on Cambridge Street onto Antrium Street southbound. The city has strictly enforced the ban. The Cambridge Police Department issued more than 200 tickets in the first month of the new restriction; 133 drivers alone were ticketed within a 15-day period.
If you haven’t visited Cambridge in a while, you can expect to see a few changes next time you do. Cambridge Street is just one area with new bicycle lanes. For those who live or work in Inman Square – or commute through – you already know these streets well and have seen the changes firsthand. But please take a look at our photos and share them with others. The more drivers, cyclists and pedestrians understand about this intersection, the more prepared they will be to follow traffic rules, which will reduce bike crashes and pedestrian accidents.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston law firm specializing in personal injury. For more than 25 years, we have committed to supporting cyclists and improving safety conditions in Massachusetts. We support numerous bicycle clubs and advocacy groups, including MassBike, Boston Cyclists Union, Charles River Wheelmen, New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) and the Northeast Bicycle Club (NEBC).
In 2017, we finished the fifth year of our Project KidSafe campaign, which has donated more than 15,000 bicycle helmets to children. Wearing a helmet is required by law for cyclists 16 and under in Massachusetts, but we want to encourage every cyclist to wear a helmet every time they ride. We have over 40 community partners helping us send out that message, including in Cambridge and Somerville.
In Cambridge, we partner with the Cambridge Police Department, CYCLE Kids and the Windsor Street Care Center to make donations each year. In Somerville, we have long partnered with Kiwanis Club of Somerville, CYCLE Kids and Somerville Public Schools, Groundwork Somerville and Shift Bicycle Community Collective.
Just-A-Start, a community development corporation serving Cambridge, treated families at the Rindge Tower Apartments to a Community BBQ with all the best fixings of summer last week. From hot dogs, hamburgers and snow cones to bouncy houses, music and conga lines, the gathering drew more than 150 people from the 273-unit apartment building near Alewife Station.
The Cambridge Police Department participated, distributing safety materials and free bicycle helmets from Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Project KidSafe campaign. Officers distributed and fitted over 80 helmets for children.
“Our thanks to the Cambridge Police Department and the attorneys of Breakstone, White & Gluck for providing the bike helmets,” said Nancy Porcaro, Just-A-Start’s community coordinator. “We were touched by the donation and I feel it was one of the most important components to our annual event. The helmets were a big hit with the families and will go a long way toward protecting the children on bikes.”
About Breakstone, White & Gluck and Project KidSafe
Breakstone, White & Gluck, a personal injury and medical malpractice law firm based in Boston, was founded by Marc L. Breakstone, David W. White and Ronald E. Gluck in 1992. In 2017, we celebrated our 25th anniversary serving our clients.
We founded our Project KidSafe campaign in 2013 with a goal of keeping children safe on bikes. Since then, we have donated more than 15,000 bicycle helmets in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and across Massachusetts. Our goal is to encourage children to wear helmets every time they ride to prevent head injuries from bicycle accidents or falls. Under Massachusetts law, cyclists under 17 years old are required to wear helmets which meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission standard. But we hope children reached by our Project KidSafe campaign will make helmets a life-long habit.
This is the second year Breakstone, White & Gluck and the Cambridge Police Department have partnered together to promote bicycle safety.