Council Endorses City-Wide Bicycle Safety Program

A Page Covering and Town-Gown Issues

Hoping to encourage residents to use bikes more often, the City Council supported unanimously last night the implementation of a bicycle safety program.

The use of bicycles as a primary mode of transportation would help relieve the city's congestion, parking and pollution problems, according to advocates of the program.

The Cambridge Bicycle Committee, a citizen's group commissioned by Mayor Alice K. Wolf, urged the city to establish more bike routes, construct bicycle racks, and implement biker education courses.

"[Bicycling] is a serious form of transportation in other cities," said Andy Rubel, a committee member. Safety concerns prevent people from biking here, he said.

The major feature of the safety program is a recommendation to establish an extensive bike route throughout Cambridge that would encourage people to use bikes in congested areas such as Harvard Square and MIT.


Low speed limits and traffic circles would discourage cars from using designated "bicycle priority streets" that run parallel to major traffic arteries such as Mass Ave.

Under the plan, Harvard St., which runs parallel to Broadway and Mass Ave., would be turned into such a street.

The committee provided the council with a "preliminary bike route network" that details routes linking locations like Harvard Square, the Cambridge Common and Central Square.

"This is really a piece of what is emerging as a transportation policy linking together [public transportation] into a more coordinated system," Councillor Edward N. Cyr said.

According to the report, bicycling makes up less than two percent of commuter trips, walking makes up 15.3 percent and single-occupant auto trips make up 43 percent.

Although safety was a major factor in the passage of the recommendation, the council and the committee also cited environmental issues as reasons for approval of the plan.

"The fact is that we the public have to recognize that our transportation methods have to change...The implementation of reports like this has to be part of this change," Councillor Francis H. Duehay '55 said.

Duehay added that the phenomenon of global warming, worsened by car pollution, is a major environmental concern that can be alleviated by using bicycles more frequently.

City Manager Robert W. Healy will determine the financial feasibility of implementing the recommendations and will report back to the council at a future meeting.