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Street Changes

The City is working to ensure that our streets are being used in the most efficient way possible as we all work together to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Page sections: Shared Streets | Support for Local Businesses | Share Your Input | Next Steps | Accessibility Statement

Shared Streets

Program Update from Director Barr - December 4, 2020

I am sharing information about the future of the Shared Streets program that the City initiated in late June of this year, as we work together to ensure that Cambridge streets are used effectively to help control the spread of COVID-19. Since the start of the program, we have received a significant amount of feedback from the community and observed the operation of the Shared Streets. Based on this information, we have decided not to expand the Shared Streets pilot into a larger program. The existing Shared Streets will be removed for the season today, Friday, December 4 in advance of the projected snow.

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Program Details

Shared Streets have been removed for the winter. The information provided below is for informational purposes only.

Shared Streets are open for: walking and biking while staying at least 6 feet / 2 meters apart; accessing local residences, local businesses, and other destinations; parking; deliveries; emergency vehicles; trash and recycling pick-up; street cleaning; and all other previous uses of the street.

By designating some streets as Shared Streets, we’re simply letting people know that if you’re driving, you should go slow (10 mph or less) and remember that more people may be walking or biking in the roadway. We do not anticipate any changes to parking or other curb regulations as a result of implementing Shared Streets.

Shared Street sign and image of Magazine St with Shared Street and Local Access Only signs installed

On a Shared Street, the roadway space is shared by people walking, biking, and driving at low speeds. Allowing people to share the street creates additional space for physical distancing. Shared Street designations are in effect 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. The shared operation of these streets is intended to be easily understood by all users, with little or no additional police presence required.

People are allowed to walk and bike in both directions to use the road, and people driving must to yield to them. Local Access Only, Shared Street, and 10 mph advisory speed limit signs are posted at key cross streets to discourage through traffic, but the streets remain open for residents of and visitors to the street, emergency vehicles, and deliveries. Signs will also help drivers find alternative routes for through trips. Nearby communities including Arlington and Somerville, as well as in other municipalities around the country, have implemented Shared Streets programs.

Previous Shared Streets Program Updates

Wednesday, August 5, 2020 - Feedback on Network Expansion

On Wednesday, August 5, 2020 the following program update was shared via this webpage:

During the month of July, we collected ideas from community members about which streets should or shouldn't be Shared Streets. On August 4, 2020 we hosted a webinar and provided details about the streets that we are proposing to add to the network based on the feedback we received. You can view the proposed additions and share your feedback via the Cambridge COVID-19 Street Changes Map. A list of Street Changes is available for people who cannot access the map. We will collect feedback on the proposed network through August 17, 2020. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020 - Second Community Webinar

On Tuesday, July 28, 2020, we announced that a community webinar would be held on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. Community members were invited to submit questions in advance of the webinar. During the webinar, staff from the Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Department gave a presentation about the public input, shared information about the proposed network, then answered the questions that were sent in advance before answering questions that were submitted via the webinar. You may watch or listen to a recording of the August 4 webinar.

Monday, August 3, 2020 - Tropical Storm Update

On August 3, 2020 the Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Department made the following announcement:

August 3, 2020 - Weather Update The National Weather Service has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for our area for Tuesday, August 4th, into Wednesday, August 5th. As a precaution, we are removing all Shared Streets signs. We will re-install the signs once the storm has passed. We have also instructed restaurants with outdoor dining areas to ensure that all loose items (chairs, tables, umbrellas, tents, barriers, etc.) are completely secured in advance of the expected high winds.

The signs were re-installed at the end of the week.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 - Citywide Postcard

On Wednesday, July 8, 2020, postcards about the Shared Streets program began arriving at all residences, businesses, and P.O. boxes in Cambridge.

Friday, June 26, 2020 - Implementation of Pilot Program

On Friday, June 26, 2020 we installed the "Shared Streets" and "Local Access Only" signs on the three streets that are a part of the pilot program.

Shared Street sign and image of Magazine St with Shared Street and Local Access Only signs installed

Thursday, June 25, 2020 - Community Webinar

On Thursday, June 18, 2020, we announced that a community webinar would be held on Thursday, June 25, 2020. Community members were invited to submit questions in advance of the webinar. During the webinar, staff from the Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Department gave a short presentation about the program, then answered the questions that were sent in advance before answering questions that were submitted via the webinar. You may watch or listen to a recording of the June 25 webinar.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 - Implementation Update

On Wednesday, June 24, 2020 the following implementation update was shared via this webpage:

The final materials needed for the implementation of the initial round of Shared Streets were delivered to the Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Department. We are working to install the 10 mph signs as quickly as possible. We will then work to attach the “Shared Street” and “Local Access Only” signs to the A-frames and begin placing them on the Shared Streets starting Friday, June 26.

Based on conversations with the MBTA, the Route 64 bus will be moved from Magazine St to River St. Starting Friday, June 26, Route 64 passengers traveling towards Central Square will need to use one of the bus stops on River St. An additional bus stop will be installed on River St at Green St.

Monday, June 22, 2020 - COVID-19 Street Changes Map Launched

On Monday, June 22, 2020 we launched an interactive map showing the changes that are being made to the streets in response to COVID-19. The map also allows members of the community to suggest locations for Shared Streets.

View the COVID-19 Street Changes Map

Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - Shared Streets Postcard

On Wednesday, June 17, 2020, postcards about the Shared Streets program began arriving at households that are directly impacted by the Shared Streets pilot program.

Postcard announcing the Shared Streets program

Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - Shared Streets Coming Soon Signs Posted

On Tuesday, June 16, 2020, we posted signs on the three streets selected for the pilot program to let people know that they would soon be Shared Streets.

"Shared Streets Coming Soon" and a photo of the sign posted on Magazine St.

Monday, June 1, 2020 - COVID-19 Street Changes Page Launched

On Monday, June 1, 2020 we launched this web page which provides more information about all of the changes that are being made in response to COVID-19 to ensure that we're using our streets as efficiently as possible.

Thursday, May 28, 2020 - Special City Council Meeting and Pilot Program Announcement

On Thursday, May 28, 2020, the Cambridge City Council held a special meeting. During that meeting, the Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Director gave an update about plans for street changes in response to COVID-19. Based on the feedback received from the Council during this meeting, we began the work to implement these changes, including the Shared Streets pilot program. During the meeting, a handout was shared with the Councillors and made available to the the public. You can view the Special City Council Meeting handout.

 The following streets will be designated as shared streets:
  • Garden Street, Field Street, and Bay State Road corridor from Concord Avenue to New Street, which provide connections to Cambridge Common, Harvard Square, Harvard Yard, Danehy Park, Fresh Pond, Alewife, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods
  • Harvard Street from Quincy Street to Portland Street, which provides connections to Kendall Square, Harvard Square, Harvard Yard, Sennott Park, nearby City buildings, Washington Elms/Newtowne Court, 119 Windsor Street, Whole Foods
  • Magazine Street from Green Street to Memorial Drive, which provides connections to Central Square, Magazine Beach, BU Bridge, Morse School fields, Trader Joe’s

All of these streets were previously identified in the Cambridge Bicycle Plan as streets that should be prioritized as low-volume/low-speed routes. We expect to begin implementing Shared Streets in mid-June.

Support for Local Businesses

Pick it Up Cambridge / 15-Minute Pick-Up Zones

Businesses in Cambridge may request that the parking in front of their business be converted to a 15-minute pick-up zone. If you are interested in this program, please let us know via the Pick-Up Zone Request Form. The rendering below shows an example of the signs that are posted in the zones. Meter payments are not required in these areas.

Request a Pick-Up Zone

Pickup Zone Example

Outdoor Dining Areas

The City of Cambridge has worked closely with Cambridge Local First, the Central Square Business Improvement District, East Cambridge/Inman Square Business Association, Harvard Square Business Association (HSBA), and restaurants across the city to identify opportunities for the City to support restaurants by creating additional space for outdoor dining.

At locations that have been permitted for outdoor dining, restaurants will be responsible for providing tables and chairs according to social distancing guidelines and roping off their outdoor dining areas each day. Due to liquor license requirements and to ensure that the tables are cleaned between each use, these new outdoor dining areas will be designated for use by the adjacent restaurants. Where possible, the outdoor dining areas may be used for loading or parking when they are not being used for dining.

While most of these new outdoor dining locations will be implemented on sidewalks or in a few parking spaces, more significant changes are being made in Central, Harvard, and Inman Squares. Impacted streets include Bow St from Plympton St to DeWolfe St; Brattle St from Church St to Eliot St; Cambridge St from Springfield to Prospect StMassachusetts Ave from Norfolk St to Brookline St; and Palmer St from Church St to Brattle StDetails about the changes on each street may be found on the Cambridge COVID-19 Street Changes Map.

Apply for an Outdoor Dining Area

Share Your Input

There are multiple ways that you can share your input with us. We will take all feedback into consideration. The feedback form helps us keep everyone's comments organized.

Share Your Thoughts

If you’d like to share your general thoughts about how we’re changing the streets, please use the feedback form. If you have a question that you’d like us to answer, you may email tpt@cambridgema.gov or call 617-349-4700.

Submit Feedback

Next Steps

We’re starting with the three corridors of shared streets. After we receive additional community feedback, we’ll evaluate additional opportunities to implement:

  • additional Shared Street locations to create a network across the city, which connects people to key destinations (while also considering existing paths, separated bicycle lanes, and other high-comfort walking and biking facilities);
  • expanded sidewalk space at key locations and nodes in high-traffic areas to promote physical distancing;
  • space to support local businesses, including sidewalk/street dining, additional pick-up areas for restaurants and retail, space for customers to practice physical distancing while waiting, and other supportive uses to be identified by business associations and local businesses; and
  • facilities to help the buses operate more frequently and more reliably, with the goal of reducing crowding on the buses and at bus stops

Accessibility Statement

The City of Cambridge does not discriminate, including on the basis of disability. We may provide auxiliary aids and services, written materials in alternative formats, and reasonable modifications in policies and procedures to people with disabilities. For more information contact Najah Casimir at ncasimir@cambridgema.gov, 617-349-4359 (voice), or via relay at 711.

Page was posted on 5/19/2020 4:08 PM
Page was last modified on 7/25/2023 12:29 AM
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