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Safety Improvement Project on Cambridge Street

In 2025, the City of Cambridge will begin installation of separated bike lanes and related safety improvements on Cambridge Street between Inman Square and Second Street.

As part of the project, we will:

  • Change the layout of the street with quick-build materials: new pavement markings, traffic signs, and flex posts
  • Add separated bike lanes:
    • Move bike lanes to be next to the curb
    • Add white flex posts to physically separate them from moving vehicles
  • Make improvements for people walking:
    • Shorten crossing distances for people walking
    • Reconstruct some existing curb ramps for accessibility
  • Evaluate changes to improve service and reliability for MBTA's route 69 bus
  • Reduce on-street parking 
    • Provide on-street parking spaces on one side of the street (parking can change sides)
    • Accommodate parking spaces with outdoor street dinning 
    • Work with businesses and residents to identify the best locations and regulations for the remaining parking and loading spaces

These changes will help us meet the requirements of the Cambridge Cycling Safety Ordinance, support our Vision Zero goal to eliminate crashes resulting in fatalities and serious injuries, and bring us closer to realizing the Cambridge Bicycle Network Vision.

Get Involved

We want to hear from you! 

Comment Form

We want to hear from you! Do you have feedback or questions?

Share Your Thoughts

Set up a 1:1

Our project team is happy to meet with businesses, residents, organizations, and groups. Reach out to schedule a phone call, video chat, or in-person meeting by emailing us or calling 617-349-9162.


Project Phases

There are opportunities to give feedback throughout this project. Right now, we are in Phase 1. 

 

Phase 1 (We're Here!)
Introduction

Introduce the project to the community. To help us design the street, we will gather feedback on how people currently use the street, safety concerns, and parking/loading needs.

Time Estimate:
Fall 2023 to Winter 2024
Phase 2
Design Feedback

After hearing feedback on how you use the street, we will come up with draft design options. Next, we present those options to the community and ask for feedback.

Time Estimate:
Late Winter and Spring 2024
Phase 3
Final Feedback

We use the Phase 2 feedback to come up with a preferred design. Then, we present that design to the community, gather feedback on final adjustments, and finalize project plans. 

Time Estimate:
Summer 2024
Project Installation
Project Installation

After we finalize the project plans, we will prepare bid documents and procure services for construction elements of this project. This will take place in Fall and Winter of 2024.
In 2025, we will reach out to the community to inform them about the installation schedule and what to expect during and after installation. Then, we install the project.

Time Estimate for Installation: Spring 2025

Upcoming Events

Check Back Soon

Check back soon or sign up for our email list to learn about upcoming events. We expect to begin Phase 2 of outreach in late winter or spring 2024.

Past Events

Tuesday, December 12: Phase 1 Virtual Community Meeting

Tuesday, December 12
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Zoom

At this virtual meeting, we introduced the project, provided background on related City policies and plans, talked about what we know about the project so far, and left time for public comment. We are currently in the planning stages for this project and do not yet have a plan for the street. Your feedback now will help guide us as we develop concepts for community review.

Materials 

Learn more

December 2, 2023: Phase 1 In-Person Open House

Saturday, December 2, 2023
Noon to 2 p.m.
Millers River Apartments
15 Lambert St.

At this open house, we introduced the goals of the project, asked attendees about their experiences with the street, gathered feedback on safety concerns, and answered questions. 

Materials

About 25 people in a room with informational boards and a project map with sticky notes.

November 29, 2023: Phase 1 In-Person Open House

Wednesday, November 29, 2023
4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Valente Branch of the Cambridge Public Library
826 Cambridge St.

At this open house, we introduced the goals of the project, asked attendees about their experiences with the street, gathered feedback on safety concerns, and answered questions.  

Materials

A group of about six people gather around a map with sticky notes. people standing around a map on the table to posted notes people standing around a map on the table with sticky notes. some people writing on sticky notes

Outreach and Surveys

Project Introduction: November 2023

In November 2023, we:

Project Emails

We send emails to announce meetings, project updates, and opportunities for feedback. You can sign up for the email list here.

Read the emails we've sent about this project below (listed from newest to oldest): 

City News Stories

Read the news stories we've published on the City of Cambridge website about the Safety Improvement Project on Cambridge Street below:

More Project Information

Project Area Map

Project Area

The project begins at Oak Street, where it meets the Inman Square project, and extends to Second Street, where it will meet with the O'Brien Highway Reconstruction Project

The Safety Improvement Project on Cambridge Street will make safety improvements to the area between Oak Street and Second Street. 

Click here for a larger version of the project map

Nearby Projects

The Safety Improvement Project on Cambridge Street will connect with nearby projects enhancing pedestrian and bike facilities, including: 

  • O'Brien Highway (Route 28) Reconstruction Project: Divco West, the developer of Cambridge Crossing, is redesigning and reconstructing O'Brien Highway from Land Boulevard to Third Street and some nearby streets. The project includes new separated bike lanes on Cambridge Street between O'Brien Highway and Second Street, which will connect to this project. Other improvements include new sidewalks, enhanced pedestrian crossings, and landscaping. This project is still underway. 
  • Grand Junction Path Project: The Grand Junction Multi-use Path is a proposed off-street multi-use path running alongside the existing railroad tracks in the Grand Junction corridor from Boston University Bridge to Somerville. The planned path will intersect with Cambridge Street between Warren Street and Lambert Street. Construction on sections of the path will likely happen at different times and will begin once final design and permitting are complete.
  • Inman Square Intersection Improvements Project: As part of this project, the City added separated bike lanes to Cambridge Street between Fayette Street and Oak Street. The project also included pedestrian safety improvements, bus stop enhancements, and public space activation. This project was completed in 2023. 
  • Cambridge Street Bicycle Safety Demonstration Project: As part of this project, the City of Cambridge added quick-build separated bike lanes to the section of Cambridge Street west of Inman Square, from Quincy Street to Inman Square. This project was completed in 2017.

Existing Parking Map

In November 2023, we inventoried existing parking supply and regulations. In the map below, we've noted existing parking regulations on Cambridge Street and 300 feet down each side street. 

About half of the existing parking on Cambridge Street will need to be removed to make space for separated bike lanes. 

Click here to view the Cambridge Street Parking Map

Existing Parking Spaces Tally

Overall North Side (westbound) South Side (eastbound)
236 129 107

Our Cambridge Street

Cover page of Our Cambridge Street. Text reads: Our Cambridge St. a community plan. Black text over a background made up of profiles of diverse people shown in bright multicolor.The Safety Improvement Project on Cambridge Street will build off the feedback you shared during the City's recent Our Cambridge Street plan. Read the full plan here

Our Cambridge Street goals related to this project include:

  • Look for opportunities to enhance the street for people walking by:
    • 9A: Improving crossings for safe intersections.
  • Look for opportunities to streamline deliveries to support local businesses by:
    • 10A: Providing clearer designation and better enforcement of existing loading zones.
    • 10C: Providing sufficient loading areas based on the needs of the businesses on each block.
  • Look for opportunities to enhance the street for people bicycling by:
    • 12C: Incorporating separated bicycle facilities along the length of Cambridge Street
  • Look for opportunities to enhance the street for people riding the bus and The Ride (13)

Data

Crash Data

Between January 2021 and September 2023, the Cambridge Police Department created 149* crash reports for the section of Cambridge Street between Oak Street and Second Street. 

Crash Type Number of Reported Crashes Number of Crashes Involving an Injury Percent of Crashes Resulting in Injury
Driver & Driver* 73 25 34%
Driver & Cyclist 31 26 84%
Driver & Object 28 4 14%
Driver & Pedestrian* 18 16 89%
Cyclist & Cyclist 0 N/A N/A
Cyclist & Pedestrian 0 N/A N/A

*In one crash, a driver hit another driver and a pedestrian, causing injuries to both.


Crash Data Map

Cambridge Street Road Safety Audit (September 2020)

A road safety audit is a process where city leaders and roadway engineers can evaluate the need for various roadway improvements. It is typically done ahead of identifying a project timeline.

For this road safety audit, Cambridge staff, MassDOT and its consultant evaluated the intersections of Cambridge Street at Windsor Street, Willow Street, Hunting Street, and Harding Street. 

Click here to read the road safety audit. 

The study included recommendations for general improvements along Cambridge Street as well as improvements at each intersection.

Highlighted Findings:

The considered the findings below most relevant to this project.

  • 35 crashes involving bicycles or pedestrians from 2010 to 2019. 
    • Four doorings
    • Three sideswipe crashes
    • Greatest number of pedestrian and bicycle crashes occurred at the intersection of Cambridge Street and Windsor Street: 11 involving bicycles and seven involving pedestrians.
  • General recommendations:
    • Improve safety around school pick up and drop off near the King Open School.
    • Evaluate traffic calming measures on side streets to discourage cut-through traffic.
    • Consider providing separated bike lanes and making other bike safety improvements.
    • Enhance pedestrian accommodations and ensure curb ramps are ADA compliant.
  • At Windsor Street:
    • Consider adding "Do Not Block Intersection" signage and pavement markings.
    • Evaluate signal timings.
    • Consider implementing bicycle lanes.
    • Consider adding green bicycle conflict markings at conflict points.
    • Ensure all signage is sufficiently retroreflective.
    • Refresh pavement markings.
  • At Hunting Street:
    • Ensure acceptable sight distance at the northeast corner of the intersection.

Bicycling in Cambridge Data Report (October 2023)

The city recently published an updated data report about biking in Cambridge. Click here to view the report.

Our Cambridge Street Data

As part of the Our Cambridge Street Planning Study, the City gathered information on the neighborhood around the eastern section of Cambridge Street. For the purposes of this analysis, the City defined the study area as within a .25 mile walk of the section of Cambridge Street between Inman Square and Lechmere.

Demographics

Age:

  • Seniors over 65: 13% of the population
  • Youth under 19: 12% of the population
  • Median Age: 34

Income:

  • 15% of households are experiencing poverty (compared to 11% citywide)
  • Median household income: $100,537 (compared to $107,374 citywide)

Race and Ethnicity:

  • 62.1% non-Hispanic White
  • 15.3% Asian
  • 11.6% Hispanic
  • 7.3% African-American
  • 2.8% two or more races
  • 0.8% other

Places of birth for foreign-born population:

About 28-30% of the population is foreign-born.

  • 11% China
  • 6% India
  • 5% Portugal
  • 5% Brazil
  • 5% Canada

Businesses

Total number of first-floor businesses: 225 (as of October 2021)

  • 53 professional offices
  • 39 restaurants
  • 24 salons/barber shops
  • 18 services (such as health/wellness, cleaning, repair, pets, and laundry businesses)
  • 15 retail 
  • 12 medical offices
  • 9 day care centers
  • 9 institutions
  • 9 convenience stores
  • 8 banks
  • 6 specialty food stores
  • 4 social service organizations
  • 4 auto businesses
  • 4 liquor stores
  • 4 cafes
  • 3 social clubs
  • 2 post offices
  • 2 pharmacies
  • 1 industrial
  • 22 vacant (as of October 2021)

 

Spring 2024 Data Collection

In spring 2024, we'll collect baseline information about the street. This includes:

  • User counts (number of people using the street, whether on foot, cycling, or driving)
  • Vehicle speed data

We will compare baseline counts with counts performed after the project is complete. This will let us review the project's effect on people's behavior; for example, we can see if people drive slower or if more people choose to bike on the street.

 

Policy and Design Background

The Cycling Safety Ordinance

In 2019, the Cambridge City Council passed the Cycling Safety Ordinance. The 2019 Ordinance requires the City to install separated bike lanes when:

In 2020, the Cambridge City Council passed amendments to the ordinance, requiring the installation of about 25 miles of separated bike lanes within the next five to seven years. The ordinance requires that the City install separated bike lanes on:

  • All of Massachusetts Avenue
  • Garden Street, eastbound from Huron Avenue to Berkeley Street and westbound from Mason Street to Huron Avenue
  • Broadway from Quincy Street to Hampshire Street
  • Cambridge Street from Oak Street to Second Street
  • Hampshire Street from Amory Street to Broadway
  • 11.6 miles in other locations from the 2020 Bicycle Plan

What do separated bike lanes look like?

Mt Auburn St at Holyoke St - Before and After

The images below show Mt Auburn St at Holyoke St before and after separated bike lanes were installed as a part of the Inner Mount Auburn Safety Improvement Project.

The left image shows Inner Mt Auburn St with a standard bike lane, travel lane, and a parking lane. The right image shows Inner Mt Auburn St with a bike lane, buffer area with flex posts, a travel lane, a parking lane, and daylighting.

Key Components of Separated Bike Lanes

  • Bike lanes create dedicated space for people who are biking.
  • Buffers (painted lines on the street) create space between people biking and people driving. They help prevent unintentional collisions that could cause serious harm to the people involved. Depending on the location, there may be a parking lane next to the buffer area. In these instances, drivers can use the buffer area to safely get in and out of the car and to load and unload items.
  • Flex posts are placed in the buffer area and serve as a vertical barrier in the buffer area.
  • Travel lanes allow space for people to drive down the street, but can be used by anyone.
  • Green markings help alert people turning from the travel lane that they should look out for people on bikes. These are generally installed at intersections and across driveways.
  • Parking creates space for people to store their vehicles while they are in the area. This part of the street may also be designated as loading zones, which help make it easier for delivery people to do their jobs.
  • Daylighting is when the parking lane is pulled back 20 feet to make it easier for people driving down the street and people waiting to cross the street to see each other. These areas are generally marked with lines on the ground. There may also be flex posts.

Why Install Separated Bike Lanes

Separated bike lanes provide more space and vertical separation between people on bikes and people in cars. More people are comfortable biking in separated bike lanes than in traditional bike lanes or in traffic with cars, buses, and trucks. Separated bike lanes also increase safety for people walking by reducing crossing distances. As we install separated bike lanes, we also look for opportunities to increase visibility at intersections, refresh crosswalk markings, and install appropriate pedestrian crossing signs.

What guides our street design?

In Cambridge, we take a human-centered approach to street design, engineered to prevent errors as much as possible and lessen the impacts of errors when they do happen.

We design for all ages and abilities. This includes:

  • Designing our streets for people who may not have access to a car
  • Designing our streets to protect the most vulnerable road users, like cyclists and pedestrians
  • Creating safe and accessible facilities, including bike lanes, that can be used by a wide range of people

Our focus is on moving people and goods, not their vehicles

  • Biking and riding transit is a more efficient use of limited street space
  • We keep access for trucks and local deliveries, but safely.

Other Streets and Transportation Projects

Looking for information on other streets and transportation projects in the City? Three City departments collaborate on the design, community engagement, installation, and construction for street and transportation improvements: the Community Development Department, Public Works Department, and Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Department.

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