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Haitian Creole-Speaking Focus Group Feedback

1/19/22 Summary of Comments

  • It is difficult to find resident and customer parking in Cambridge. It would help if there was more parking, either in a garage or meters.
  • Buildings are being built on lots where people used to park, and sometimes those new buildings done have any new parking.
  • People would like buses to come more often, and for them to start earlier and continue later into the night, to make it possible to get to and from work for early and late shifts.
  • The street changes on North Mass Ave from Porter to Arlington have made it faster for buses but slower for people to drive cars. That doesn’t seem fair since there is only one bus that uses it occasionally. It also made it difficult to drive next to white posts separating bike lanes.
  • It's a good idea to give everybody some space in the street because it makes it safer and more convenient. But the roads are just too small to have a bus lane, a bike lane, a car lane, and sidewalks. It doesn’t totally work because it feels like a lot going on all at once.
  • People who live in public housing have one parking space but some families need two cars to make it easier to get to work. It is difficult to find parking for the second car in resident permit parking areas. Without two cars, they have to rely on other transportation, which can be hard. 
  • It is frustrating to pay for parking in public housing, but not always be able to find a spot.
  • Meters have become too expensive. Meter times should be doubled to make it possible to do business without having to return to put more money in the meter.

Questions asked

  1. What is the City plan to make parking better in Cambridge? Because it's very very very very bad. What can you do to help make people life better for parking in Cambridge?
    Answer: Right now we are listening to people's transportation experiences. Once we've learned about the community's needs and experience, we'll review the current parking regulations to see what we could change. Based on this analysis and community comments, we will propose possible changes to parking policies. Please check the website to learn about the study: cambridgema.gov/parkingstudy.
  2. Why do they have to use meters?
    Answer: Meters help make people park for short times, which means that more people can come. So a meter can serve many people in a day, rather than just one person using a resident parking space. If we had all resident parking, then businesses would not have parking available for their customers. Usually meters are for when people want to have a lot of different people coming rather than having a few people for a long time.
  3. What is the City looking for when they take all the metered parking spaces on Mass Ave and move them to the side street where residents used to park?
    Answer: In 2020, the City Council passed a law to require that the City put bike lanes in many places in the City, including in that location on Mass Ave. We figured out a way to put space for buses also because we've been hearing that the buses get stuck in traffic on Mass Ave. So more people can come through every hour using the bus and the bike than they can if it's one person in a car driving. We're trying to make it possible for people to move around the City without a car, by walking, taking the bus or biking. At the same time, Businesses still have customers who drive, so they asked for more meters to be available and since there is less space for them on Mass Ave, we moved them to the first few spaces on the side streets.
  4. Can the City do something about restaurant outdoor dining? They take too many parking spaces.
    Answer: There has been a big desire to support restaurants during covid and one of the ways restaurants are asking for City support is allowing people to eat outside so they can continue to come during Covid. Many people were also looking for ways to eat out safely. Outdoor dining was added as a way to support restaurants and give people a chance to socialize safely. We also heard that many people thought outdoor dining makes the City livelier and a better place to live. But it does make it harder to park.
  5. Is there a permit available to use for people who drive a rented car to Cambridge to visit people who live here from another city? Who stay for 2 to 4 days.
    Answer: Each resident can get a Visitor Parking Permit from the City, which comes with the purchase of a $25 Resident Parking Sticker. If they do not own a car, they can purchase a Visitor Parking Permit for $25. Visitors can use that for up to 3 days in a week and must move the vehicle each day. 
    Residents can also purchase an Extended Visitor Parking Permit that allows their visitors to park for up to 2 consecutive weeks. A Cambridge household can only have one (1) Extended Visitor Parking Permit at a time and there is an 8-week maximum per household per year. The Extended Visitor Parking Permit costs $10 per week and the household must also have an active Visitor Parking Permit. 
    Parking permit information is located here: https://www.cambridgema.gov/iwantto/applyforaparkingpermit

Focus group quotes include:

How do you usually get around Cambridge?

  • By car
  • I drive most of the time but I also do take the train
  • Sometimes I drive, sometimes I take the train
  • I walk and sometimes I take the train
  • I walk, sometimes I take bus
  • Sometimes I take the bus, call Uber, and sometimes I drive
  • I take the bus and train

How well does that work for you, and what would make your experience better?

  • I don't have any big issue when driving, the only issue, like everybody knows, is parking. When driving in Cambridge, most of time you don't find parking in Cambridge.
  • The buses are very slow in Cambridge compared to other places in New York. When you are waiting for the bus, sometimes you can wait 40 or 45 minutes before you find the bus.
  • Agree that when you go somewhere, you wait for the bus, it takes very long before you see the bus come. Also sometimes if when you say you're not taking the bus, you're scared of taking the car to drive because you won't find parking.
  • The small space that they leave for cars to drive it's so small and they put some little white thing that block for the bike lanes. And car driver doesn't have way to move, anything you do, those little things, it's very little space for driver.
  • In Cambridge, it's very difficult to find parking. Sometimes traffic is big issue, and when it's a big issue, it's the City's fault because instead of putting more space where a car can drive, they are taking from the road and they have less road for car and more space for other things. One example is if you take Porter Square to Arlington, now almost 3 months ago they take out one line and they used to be two lines, but now it's only one line. They put a bus line. When you go from Porter Square in the afternoon to Arlington, before it would take 15-20 mins, now it's double because of the bus lane and less road for other cars to drive. Use the lane for regular drivers.
    Another thing in that space is there's only one bus from Harvard to Arlington, it's the 77 and they have whole bus lane. Because they put the bus lane, so they had to remove all the parking that was on Mass Ave and business and people residents doesn't have any parking from that corner to the corner of Arlington.
  • One of the things that can make circulation better in Cambridge is about the bus. If someone starts work at 6, the first bus starts at 5:30, it's too short time for them to get to the workplace. Also she has people at her house that work very late, by midnight. At this time, some of the bus are already done working and it's hard to find bus. They don't have early-early bus, or late-night bus.
    The block from Porter Square to Arlington used to be an easy road and now it's hard because they put the bus lane. Sometimes the bus lane is empty and all the drivers are stuck in traffic in the other lane. Before it was a much better way to go to Arlington but now it's not the same. Because of all those changes in North Cambridge.
  • The road is too small because sometimes when they are driving, there is less road for driver they put bus lane and bike lane. Sometimes you have to avoid buses, biking, people crossing, it's a lot of things. That makes it very hard to circulate, to drive and move in Cambridge.
  • For the people that are taking the bus, the lanes are a good thing because it's only one bus. Unless we have two or three bus going on same road, one can block another, but we only have one, it's a good thing. The issue, it's not about the bus lane. It's about the bike lane, that they keep more space for the bike lane although it's a good thing to have a lane for bus only. The other space they leave for traffic, it's not enough because they put a lot for bike lane.
  • The road is very small. For two cars they are close to each other because the road is so small.
  • It's a good idea that they have a bus lane, a bike lane, and a regular lane for cars. It's a just a safety issue, it's convenient when it comes to traffic. The only thing I'm really seeing here is, it's just a construction issue. The roads are just too small for all of that happening. It's just there's a lot going on for all of those things. That's what I'm thinking. The roads for the cars are already small, then you have a bus lane next to it, then you have a bike. And then there's the sidewalk. It's just there's a lot going on. I understand what the city's trying to do, making sure everybody profits from something in a way, but it's just so much. I see the vision, but it doesn't work a hundred percent.
  • Even if you are a good driver, the road is so small you can get into a car accident.
  • What is one thing that works well and one thing that you’d like to change about parking in Cambridge?
    In public housing, they give you only one parking space. Sometimes, only one car is not convenient for the whole family and they have to have two cars. It's sometimes hard to find parking in permit parking because people come from other places to work in Cambridge, they use the parking space near their house, they don't have any place to park. People suffer because they have to live with one car sometimes it's hard to get to work. You have to rely on other transportation. So it's a hard thing.
  • Meters have become very expensive now. Even when you want to park in the meter, used to be until 6 and now it's until 10 and 11. So meters go later and are more expensive.
  • Provide more parking spot because North Cambridge, we are off Mass Ave. What makes it hard for circulation is the bike lane and the bus lane. What happened that gives less space to cars. Side streets where people parking now used to be permit parking, they start to put meters on some of them. They need to build more parking spots. Garage makes it easier because more cars, more space, more access, but if not meters are fine too.
  • I run most of errands in Cambridge area. Like the others said, there is literally no parking anywhere. Like if I go get my nails done or something like that, it's so hard to find somewhere to park. So many one-ways it's just hard. If there was a way to add more public parking would be good. For example, when I go to Watertown and Belmont area, even when you go to stores and food places, and they have public parking for people to park, but in Cambridge there is none of that. Even if you're going to the mall.
  • As an example, Central Square. When you are going to Citizen Bank, they only have meters for 30 minutes. So you enter the bank. If it's busy, you are in the line before you get to the person who can help you, it's already 30 minutes. So you have to run out to put some money and come back and people are waiting. If they could put some more time so people don't have to run and put more money in the meter. If they can put 1 hour, that's better and where they have 1 hour they can put 2 hours.

If you have a car, where do you park at home and how do you find a spot?

  • In the street with resident permit.
  • Parking lot that I pay $44 to get parking spot. But I have two cars, I always have permit from City for 2nd car.
  • I live in public housing. Not only do I pay to get the parking spot, it's not an assigned parking spot. Whoever comes first get the parking. Sometimes if I don't get the parking inside the housing parking lot, I will have to park outside the housing.
  • I live in East Cambridge, parking is very hard, it's very difficult. Sometimes in the morning it's easy, but if you come in the afternoon, it's very hard. Sometimes you have to go for 3 or 4 streets before you will find a parking spot to put the car.
  • It's easy to get ticket in Cambridge. Sometimes they give you resident parking and you should be able to put your car and go do some work, but you can get a ticket very easy in Cambridge.
  • I am a Cambridge resident. One thing about I see from some neighbors parking outside when they don't have a parking spot. In the morning, they see that someone hit their car. It has bad damage, but they don't know who did it. And they have to live with it and pay to repair with no recourse. It's costly for people who have cars.
  • Cambridge cares a lot of business making money. Any spot you find some spaces in Cambridge, instead of put a parking lot or something to support residents, they will put a big building to make money and support business, rather than making resident life better.
  • I live on Columbia street. When they build apartment, they don't build parking. They give somewhere to rent a house but they don't give you any parking space. Can you imagine that? Eight different families—none of them has a parking spot. Everybody parks in the street because there was a spot close on Market Street where they could park in, they just built on the lot.
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