By Meg Muckenhoupt
Two new bicycle paths opened in Somerville and Cambridge this summer: an extension of the Somerville Community Path from Cedar Street to Lowell Street; and a path through Flagstaff park in Harvard Square for bicyclists heading north on Massachusetts Avenue.
At the ribbon-cutting for the Somerville Community Path on August 18, Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone made remarks recorded by the Friends of the Community Path:
“Somerville as a community has a certain set of values that we believe in and we planned and envisioned the future together based on those values .. and an important part of that…. means living in a community that is healthy, where you can be active, that is bikable, and that is walkable.
“We have seen impacts of making a community that is more bikable, walkable and connected to public transit. We see the impact on our environmental health, with reduced emissions, we see the positive impacts on our economic health, with active streetscapes, with more foot traffic for our local businesses, we see more connections between neighborhoods… Somerville has a goal: we want to shift 50% of all new vehicle trips to biking, walking and public transportation…
“So this is more than just an extension of a mixed use pedestrian-bike path, it is really a reflection of the community’s values. We are now the number one biking community in the northeast… we are now the seventh most walkable community in the country, and this happened because we came together and expressed our values and made the policy changes and investments in our infrastructure that reflect those values…”
The Cambridge connector, which runs through tiny Flagstaff Park alongside Mass Ave across from Cambridge Common, was a joint project of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to rehabilitate the Common and improve conditions for park users and travelers along Massachusetts Avenue.
According to Bill Deignan, transportation program manager for Cambridge’s Community Development Department, more than 10,000 cyclists and pedestrians use the area daily. The completed path includes a new crosswalk and two traffic signals to assist cyclists and pedestrians crossing Cambridge Street to reach northbound Massachusetts Avenue.
Meg Muckenhoupt is Editor of the Belmont Citizens Forum Newsletter.