Cambridge figures out how to curb traffic in Kendall Square

The Globe reports car traffic in Kendall Square is dropping even as employment is increasing. Credit goes to employer incentives for bike riding and T taking - spurred by city regulations that require landlords to foster car alternatives in exchange for permission to build new parking spaces.

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Biking

By on

I am in this demographic and I bike to work 2-3 days a week, but let's not forget that cycling to work is the domain of the professional, [generally] white and mostly male who has access to short-ish commutes and very importantly, showers at work or nearby. A key demographic in Kendall.

Let's get real here, anyone can bike to work, but how long is the maintenance staff going to keep their jobs if they come in sweating every day?

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LEED Certified bldgs

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Amongst the requirements to receive certain levels of LEED certification for buildings (the "green" building deal) is to provide shower and changing room facilities for employees along with bicycle parking amenities. As you point out bike lanes and transportation infrastructure is not enough to "mode shift" people from single occupancy car commutes to biking to work. You need to be able to unstinkify yourself once you're at work.

Blue collar staff could take advantage of this as well, but I think the problem for people coming from places like Everett, East Somerville, Chelsea, East Boston and other working class neighborhoods is that bike infrastructure is not that hot. The Minuteman trail is where it is because of who is there. There's plenty of unused rail right of ways in less well-to-do n'hoods that could be made into great bike pikes, but that takes a lot of advocacy, organizing and pressure (not to mention money). We'll get there eventually, I hope. In the meantime biking over route 99 into Charlestown (for example) is not much of an option.

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About the minuteman being there b/c of who is there...

By on

I would like to take this opportunity to remind folks of how people along the Minuteman went from NFW NIMBY in the beginning to putting realtor signs out on the trail and selling their houses at a premium because of "direct bikepath access". And surprise, none of the "heathen" from Cambridge and Somerville started stealing televisions out of Arlington and Lexington homes by bike.

I mention this for the benefit of the folks in Weston and other communities, who have an opportunity of a generation with the Wayside trail.

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Minuteman was "going to bring in criminals to rob us"

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That's what my big trucker neighbor said (we lived a block off of it) as he was selling his house to move to Billerica.

We tried to point out, in vain, that it was probably raising his property values even in the early days. No. He was convinced that it was going to increase "urban crime" - even though it had, for many many years, been an abandoned and inacessable place for kids to drink and hold bonfires and people to hide.

Of course, the experiences of other communities all over the country proved correct in "we're special and different" Massachusetts as well ...

I'd like to also note that Arlington was very much still a working class enclave and the OLDEST town in MA at the time the path went in.

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I see bikers trekking over

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I see bikers trekking over the Alford Street bridge to Sullivan Square all the time. Kind of scary, but they seem okay as long as they stay on the sidewalk.

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Route 99 Biking

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No doubt a few hardy souls do it, but the people I know who have tried to bike into town from East Boston and Chelsea through the industrial area between Chelsea and Everett (by the produce market and King Arthur's...ahem) have not tried it too often. Route 16 and 99 are not set up for bikes at all and the roads in the industrial area are so totally trashed you nearly need a mountain bike to get through.

A bike lane going along the tracks (along the original inner belt path route for that area) from East Boston through Chelsea and over a dedicated lane on the Alford Street bridge would get a lot of use. Hopefully the Bike to the Sea path up the old Linden Line through Malden-Saugus and into Lynn will eventually hook up to this locale as well. So much great work has gone into connecting the various trails into this nexus area of East Somerville/Cambridge/Charlestown to one another - it could really bump up bike commuting into a viable option for a lot of people who otherwise would not brave the streets in these areas.

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It's not just demographics --

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It's not just demographics -- the Minuteman is there because there was an abandoned rail line that could be repurposed. There's no easy way to build an off-road bike path from Everett, Chelsea, or East Boston to downtown or Kendall Square.

East Boston *does* have a newish bike path along a former rail line, but it ends at the pier where railroad passengers used to transfer to a ferry. East Somerville is supposed to get an extension of the Community Path at some point.

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Don't know much about working class life, eh?

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When I started cycling, I was directed to use the showers and locker area that was provided for the custodial and maintenance staff.

It was expected that they would get sweaty and want to shower off/clean up and change before they got home.

My grandmother was a custodian - she changed at work. As did my grandfather, who worked in an upholstry shop. My father showered and changed after a day of roadwork as well.

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are you serious?

By CaT on

biking to work = sweaty at work?
i guess most of the dutch population must really smell then. most of them bike to work and hardly anyone showers. ooh, those europeans...

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I've been to Amsterdam in the summer

It's cooler and way less humid than Boston in summer, and it's also way flatter. All of those things lead to bicyclists sweating less. Bicycles there also tend to have fully enclosed chain guards so you don't get chain grease on your clothes. Haven't seen that feature here very much, where derailleur bikes with open chains seem to be the bulk of the road fleet. (I wear a leg band on my right leg and I *still* end up with grease on the inside of my right leg.)

Americans also have unreasonable cultural standards regarding cleanliness. One whiff of a little B.O. and ZOMG TAKE A BATH YOU FILTHY HIPPIE. I wish we'd get over that.

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First to clear the air.

By on

First to clear the air. Sweat doesn't stink. What you are smelling is in essence bacteria farts.

Most sweat is just salty water, but there are various areas on your body that produce an oily sweat, think armpits. This oily sweat is very tasty to bacteria which then release the stink we all know as BO. If you get rid of the bacteria, then you won't stink.

When I was biking long distance to work, I got rid of the bacteria by shaving my pits and showering before getting on the bike. I would also use the Men's room at work to change into clean cloths.

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Are you serious?

By on

Yes, I personally know people who sweat lots just standing outside in the hot humid air, and so those folk will sweat, lots, riding a bike. And it is a problem.

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Link broken?

It keeps taking me to a lot of nothing. Not even a 404, just empty.

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Where is Matthew?! Calling Matthew!

By on

I thought he'd be all over this because of the parking angle!

Incidentally, I've started riding to my job in the suburbs (10.5 miles each way). I have been able to do that for precisely the reasons that another commenter mentioned - that I now have a shower available to me at work, along with a closet to store my clothes etc.

Even with all of those things, it takes a lot of planning and preparation to do it even a couple of days a week (making sure that you have matching stuff at the office, etc. - I have to wear a suit everyday - which requires at least one car trip per week), so I am not expecting that this will become the preferred method of commuting for the population at large.

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I got the impression that

By on

I got the impression that Matthew was a shill for BU

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Nah, he would generally

Nah, he would generally "shill" for anything that is against parking or highways. You can find him in Archboston.org too.

To be fair, there's a bit more than just pure anti-car, but it's close enough.

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Anti-destruction of cities, really

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The endless expansion of highways and parking lots would hollow Boston out from the inside. I'm just one of the few voices pushing back against the "conventional wisdom" of parking-lot-ification of the city.

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That is why I had a caveat

That is why I had a caveat it's a bit more. Your justification and foundation is reasonable. But sometimes your regard to keep urban life and landscape seems put forwards stances in ideas that that fall in the same category as a stance that anything regarding work on roads as bad. You never seem to speak a good word about anything related to cars and always seem to assume the worse.

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Can you blame me?

By on

There's no shortage of advocates for automobile interests.

But actually I do write in support of certain changes that are for the benefit of car users. For example, road pricing and market-rate parking pricing are both policies that would greatly ease travel and cruising times for private vehicles. Since I don't own a car, I wouldn't stand to benefit from those changes (except peripherally), but I feel they are the right thing to do. Plus, if done right, they have more chance of actually working to reduce congestion than hopeless road expansion, and don't require the city to sacrifice more land.

I feel that much of the efforts that go under the rubric of "road work" don't actually help ease traffic congestion or make it easier for car users. They often do worsen quality-of-life for locals, however. Opposing these lose-lose scenarios for drivers and residents should be everyone's concern.

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Uhhh, nice try

But actually I do write in support of certain changes that are for the benefit of car users. For example, road pricing and market-rate parking pricing are both policies that would greatly ease travel and cruising times for private vehicles. Since I don't own a car, I wouldn't stand to benefit from those changes (except peripherally)....

Gee, nice of you to support car users that way. ;-) Sorry, I'm not buying it, though. Are you in sales? ;-)

Besides, your benefit would hardly be peripheral. In fact, the benefits are exactly what your end goals are - that's not peripheral. Look, I understand where you're coming from, and your ideas are admirable, but don't try to pawn this off as doing car drivers a favor.

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Not sales ;)

By on

But I do think the benefits would largely go to drivers. Making it easier and more reliable to get in and out of the city with a car. And the main benefit to me is no longer having to hear people whine about how bad traffic congestion is.

Ok, that's probably overly optimistic. People will always whine.

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Congrats

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You propose to solve the problem by pricing people out of a transportation option. Want to access the city by car? Well, then you had better be able to afford Matthew's penalties for doing so! You've taken a progressive stance and made it a regressive wet dream.

I wonder if "Matthew" is just a pseudonym for "Mitt".

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Garbage

By on

And you know it. The revenues from tolling are used to supplant revenues from taxing. So the burden on lower income folks across the state goes down. Now, the biggest burden on them is being forced to own and maintain an automobile because of systematic increase in parking lots and highways, and disinvestment in public transportation.

But thanks for providing an example of the kind of baseless attacks I receive for supporting a measure which would help mostly car owners.

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Whining?

And the main benefit to me is no longer having to hear people whine about how bad traffic congestion is.

The whining about the T (even though totally legitimate) overwhelms any whining you might hear about traffic congestion.

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Give him time...he will appear....

By on

I used to ride maybe once or twice a week from my home to my work in Cambridge (around 15 or so miles one way) in the late 1980s, early 1990s. I had no access to a shower and had to place my bike in a not well lit, unlocked room way in the back of the building (where bikes were often stolen). It did take a lot of planning but I enjoyed it. The rest of the week I hopped on commuter rail.

I think for some folks, bike commuting is great and makes sense. For the majority, though, it does not (due to distance, lack of shower/change areas, time constraints, physical shape, age, disability, et. al.) I agree with you that biking will not become the preferred method of commuting for the larger population.

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They do make garment bags for bikes

If you leave a suitably-matching pair of shows at work and perhaps the jacket as well, you'll have less to carry on the bike, and you might have luck with a pannier-mounted garment bag for your wrinkle-risking shirt and pants. I haven't had to use one; I've gotten away with just rolling my khakis and polos.

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Or keep your work-clothes at work

Bring fresh clothes to work one day out of five when you take the T or drive in, bicycle the other four days. When you bicycle in, do the shower/change routine at work. Take home the bundle of dirty clothes at the end of the week. (Or drop them off at a dry-cleaner's near work, if it involves suits and the like.)

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What's this?

By on

The Matt-signal?

A few weeks back I was going through some census data and I noted that something like 35% of Cambridge commuters were not accounted for under the "car", "carpool" or "transit" options. Presumably, that implies a much higher walk or bike to work share.

This will be a great example to show up complaints about increased traffic due to new development. Added traffic is not inevitable, it's all about the choices we make as a community. And it happened right here in Massachusetts.

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Yes, Cambridge does have the

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Yes, Cambridge does have the highest percentages of residents walking to work of any U.S. city over 100,000 people.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._cities_w...

But I don't think it's because of policies related to new construction in Kendall Square. It's because of the tens of thousands of people who live on or near campus at Harvard and MIT.

http://www2.cambridgema.gov/~cdd/data/jtw/index.html has the data by census tract. The tracts that include the Harvard and MIT campuses are above 60%, those on the fringes are near 20%, and at the edges of the city it's in the single digits.

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Yes, of course

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I didn't mean to imply that Kendall Square was responsible for this. It's a much broader trend in Cambridge.

But while I have your attention, do you happen to know if Census commute-to-work statistics include students-to-school or not? I was looking around for an answer to that a few weeks ago, and didn't have any luck.

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Commute to work

By on

I believe that the data is collected as the commute of the worker to their workplace not students to campus. I don't know if work study positions would end up recorded as such (I'll look into that, because now I want to know).

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How would students answer

By on

How would students answer those questions on the census?

Even if it doesn't include undergrads, there's still tens of thousands of grad students, faculty, and researchers who live on or near campus.

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Density!

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The bike amenities and restricted parking are great and all, but lets not lose sight of the fact that building so much office, retail, recreational, and residential space in Kendall allows people to go about their lives without hoping in a car (or even on a bike). I'd love to see the actual stats on where the residents work and where the workers live. Anecdotally, I see a lot of residents of the area going to work or classes in the area - not to mention eating, drinking, kayaking and ice skating. Kendall has become a real urban neighborhood. This article is great at revealing the benefits of density done well.

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What retail? Kendall has no

By on

What retail?

Kendall has no grocery store, no pharmacy, no hardware store, no clothing stores (except the Garment District on the fringe), very little late-night food...

They've made a little progress recently, but it's still very much a bland urban renewal desert.

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$1M to pay people to bike to work!

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Just today I received notice of the start of public comment period on spending about a million tax dollars to pay workers in Kendall Square to bike to work, walk, or use the MBTA. So, the motivation for the Globe Article and subsequent editorial becomes clear - advocacy for tax dollars going to pay workers not to drive in Kendall Square. Its called a Value Pricing Pilot Program (VPPP) with one year of funding.
http://www.bostonmpo.org/bostonmpo/3_programs/2_ti...

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