We have a responsibility to make our streets safe for all types of transit and all levels of mobility, without unduly preferring cars over other options. Elizabeth would push the city to implement a Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic fatalities, and she would seek to work with colleagues in the Cambridge and Medford city councils to address the regional issue of the safety of our roads for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and passengers.
For pedestrians, we need to fix and replace the broken bricks that represent a tripping hazard and have a negative impact on the accessibility and attractiveness of the Square. Elizabeth would support the elimination of the left turn lane from Highland to Elm in favor of expanding the traffic island in front of Mike’s and creating a more useable public space. Another significant problem for pedestrians is the crosswalk in front of the library; at times of heavy traffic this light can block up College Ave all the way to Powderhouse, while at night a pedestrian is at serious risk from cars that speed through the blinking yellow light. Elizabeth would want to work with a traffic expert to determine the best fix for this dangerous crosswalk, but one interim fix might be the addition of a visually-striking mural on the asphalt around the crosswalk, as in the Neighborways pilot; such murals have been found to slow drivers.
For cyclists, we need new and improved bike lanes that protect cyclists from the dangers of parked and moving cars, while also giving cyclists a better option than darting around traffic. A particularly dangerous street in Ward 6 is Cutter Ave, which is frequented by cyclists approaching Davis from Elm St / Porter Sq; a bike lane is sorely needed on this dark street, particularly at the two-way turn onto Highland. The bike lane on Willow Ave is excellent and would certainly be the preferred route from Porter to Davis, except for the four-way light at the intersection with Highland, which would be well-served by the addition of a bike box or a designated turn signal for cyclists.
In a cyclist’s dream version of Davis Square, Elm St would have a protected, two-way bike path… but let’s start with solutions that only require a bucket of paint.