Cambridge Wins Growth Award

Romney recognizes Cambridge for being friendly to bicyclists, pedestrians

Citing Cambridge’s transportation plan to integrate bicycle paths, pedestrian walkways and public transit, Massachusetts Governor W. Mitt Romney presented the city an award for “smart growth” at a State House ceremony last month.

Cambridge was one of nine cities recognized by the Office of Commonwealth Development for projects designed to make communities safer and more environmentally friendly.

Under the Cambridge Community Development (CCD) department’s “Comprehensive Bicycle and Pedestrian Program,” the city has sought for over a decade to improve facilities for bicycle riders and pedestrians in order to encourage more citizens to use alternate forms of transportation.

“Since this program has started, over 30 miles of bicycle facilities have been created around the city, and we still are looking to make even more progress,” said Cara B. Seiderman ’81 of the CCD’s Environmental and Tranportation Planning Division.

According to Seiderman, Cambridge has tried to work within the existing infrastructure to make the city more habitable, rather than embarking on new building projects that would contribute to urban sprawl.

The city is currently redesigning the area around Porter Square to improve the flow of traffic. CCD planners are also considering a proposal to place signs around the city to make it more navigable for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Harvard Square and the surrounding area will also undergo changes in the near future under a redesign project that began in 2002.

Seiderman said the city will focus on the intersection of JFK Street and Memorial Drive. Other troublesome traffic spots—including the area around Johnston Gate, the T station and the intersection of Church and Brattle Streets—will also be targeted for improvements such as new crosswalks.

“Overall, the city’s vision is to increase the access to different transportation options while pushing for greater safety,” Seiderman said.

Seiderman and other city officials accepted the award from Romney on Nov. 23.

Phil Hailer, spokesman for the state’s development office, said the awards were given to cities who already have embraced the idea of smart growth.

“Cambridge deserves a lot of credit, and we wanted to award them for it. This is a city that has shown leadership and a willingness to enact changes that improve the quality of life of their citizens,” Hailer said. “It has done a great job balancing between the limits of urban planning with the demands of its citizens to create a truly livable city for all.”

In February, the state will issue awards to cities who have just recently adopted smart growth innovations.