Safer Streets - Denise Simmons

Safer Streets For All

In recent years, the City of Cambridge has been making strident efforts to increase the safety on our streets for bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians, and one major component of this effort has been the establishment of pop-up bicycle lanes on major thoroughfares. The creation of a safe, separated network of bicycle travel lanes is an important part of this effort, and Denise is very much supportive of this effort. She understands that we need to all work together to ensure that our streets are as safe as possible for all. 

Denise is also one of the loudest voices in this discussion urging that we take great care in how we arrive at these safer streets. We need not, and must not, pit bicyclists against motorists, young against old, the able-bodied against the mobility-impaired, or houses of worship and businesses against those seeking to reduce our reliance on vehicles and parking spaces. The safety and needs of one set of stakeholders should not come at the expense of the safety and needs of another group of stakeholders - these streets belong to everyone. Only by inviting in all viewpoints and actually listening to one another will we arrive at creating safer streets that truly work for us all. Denise was pleased with the initial discussions yielded from our Bicycle Lane Working Group, which began meeting in the summer of 2017.

Denise's Statement Regarding the 2021 Cambridge Bike Safety Pledge:

During the heat of the campaign season, some people's positions on important issues are being misrepresented, misunderstood, and/or distorted beyond recognition, and that appears to have happened in relation to the Bicycle Safety Pledge. I want to state emphatically that I very much support the creation of a citywide, interconnected network of bicycle infrastructure to make our roads safer for all. I believe I have voted in favor of creating/funding/expanding the bicycle lanes whenever they have appeared before the council, and, as someone who relied upon the bicycle to get around Cambridge myself in my younger days, I know firsthand how dangerous and frightening riding along our city streets can be. The need for safe bicycle lanes is beyond dispute.

What I have not done is take the Cambridge Bike Safety pledge that says I will support the expansion of the bicycle infrastructure moving forward, full tilt and without any exceptions or provisions, even to make allowances and considerations for our seniors and those with mobility issues. I want our roads, streets, and sidewalks to be safer for bicyclists, full stop. But I have heard from many, many seniors who are increasingly feeling like the City is telling them "If you're not able-bodied and you cannot make your way around via bicycle, or are unable to walk with ease, then Cambridge is no longer the right city for you." I have seniors who use canes, walkers, and wheelchairs who formerly could find a parking space on the same block as their pharmacy, their doctor, their laundromat, etc, who now are finding they're fighting over one parking space situated four blocks away - to them, this isn't an inconvenience, but a significant hardship. Like me, the seniors I speak with aren't asking for the removal of bicycle infrastructure or a return to how things were 20 years ago, but they are asking for a more balanced approach, a recognition of their needs, and some compromise that allows them to continue being out and about in our community. The bicycle pledge that I read does not make any allowances or provisions for even holding those kinds of conversations, or for raising these issues before plowing full steam ahead with the infrastructure as planned. I just don't think that's a good way to govern. 

I am sorry if my position has cost me people’s support. And I want to reiterate that I support the creation of a citywide network of bicycle infrastructure – but I could not and will not take any pledge that boxes me in and cuts off all possibilities of bringing people together to build a consensus on important issues like this one.