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Cambridge Will Fast-Track Pedestrian Safety Measures Following Fatal Harvard Square Crash

Cambridge residents and city councilors have debated whether Harvard Square is safe for pedestrians and bicyclists following a series of fatal accidents.
Cambridge residents and city councilors have debated whether Harvard Square is safe for pedestrians and bicyclists following a series of fatal accidents. By Zadoc I. N. Gee
By Ellen M. Burstein, Crimson Staff Writer

The city of Cambridge plans to expedite a number of planned pedestrian safety measures — including a separated bike line — following a fatal crash in Harvard Square last week.

On Aug. 18, a male bicyclist in his 50s or 60s was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer near the Out of Town News kiosk. His death sparked criticism online, and Cambridge residents called for the city to take measures to protect cyclists.

The new bike lane is set to run on Massachusetts Avenue from Dunster Street towards Church Street. In addition, the city will reduce the number of travel lanes on Massachusetts Avenue between the kiosk and Harvard Yard. The updates will be made using “quick-build” materials, according to a city press release.

The city plans to implement the new measures in the next two weeks, according to a tweet from Cambridge Vice-Mayor Alanna M. Mallon.

Cambridge has long planned a number of safety measures to update Harvard Square for bicyclists. In October 2015, the city released Cambridge’s Bicycle Plan, aiming to make “all streets bicycle friendly.” Since then, at least three bicyclists have been killed in collisions with larger vehicles.

The bike lane and the reduced traffic lanes were originally planned as components of the city’s Harvard Square kiosk renovations, but the project was postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Mallon praised the city’s new plan on Twitter but urged the city to take further action on safety measures.

“I'm hopeful that these projects will better protect Cambridge's cyclists & restore a feeling of safety, but City action can't stop at these quick-build improvements, or at the borders of Harvard Square. I look forward to implementing the cycling safety ordinance in Sept,” Mallon wrote.

—Staff writer Ellen M. Burstein can be reached at ellen.burstein@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @ellenburstein.

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