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Bicyclist dead after crash in Harvard Square

Cambridge Police report that around 9:40 a.m., "there was a fatal motor vehicle crash involving a tractor-trailer and bicyclist" on Massachusetts Avenue at Dunster Street. Police are now investigating.

Police say the bicyclist, a man in his 50s, was pronounced dead at the scene. The truck driver remained at the scene, police say.

Last September, a pedestrian died while crossing the street near the T stop.

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Pedestrianize Harvard Square. Only those on foot and bike should be allowed. Motor vehicles, especially large trucks, do not belong in areas with high levels of pedestrians. This is done in cities all over the world so why not here? How many more people must be brutally killed before we stop prioritizing vehicles over people?

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Voting closed 185

The priority in Harvard Sq. seems to be eliminate all local business and replace them with bank branches and fast food chains. You think anyone in charge in Cambridge gives a damn about pedestrians in Harvard Sq.? Elected officials have been destroying neighborhoods in Cambridge for decades now.

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Voting closed 79

One of the problems in Cambridge is that elected officials aren't really in charge. The city manager is in charge, subject to the hiring of the council. In practice this means the city manager makes the decisions and the council are left acting much like everybody else in the city:complaining about the banks and fast food chains and occasionally holding hearings but never really able to take concrete action to effect change. You'll find almost all of the council at least claims to support and some of them actively push for better protections for pedestrians and cyclists, but their effectiveness is limited. The city manager tends to openly ignore council requests he disagrees with, yet the council keeps reupping his contract.

Long way of saying, we need to get rid of the city manager system and just have an elected mayor and council like most other cities.

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Voting closed 52

so long as the manager does what the council says.

Otherwise, it's a way for politicians to say one thing and do another, with deniability of "gosh darn it, this manager who reports to us didn't do what we said, what can ya do."

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Voting closed 14

You've put the nail on the head of the problem right there.

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Voting closed 14

Pedestrianize is immediately appealing -- to me, atleast -- because it sounds like a kind of fancy pastry made from leftover pasta. And the term is far more friendly than "Ban Autos!" a policy declaration which most people in the US would deem a threat to their civil rights.

But YES, agreed! Automotive vehicles have no place in Harvard Square.
In fact, most dense urban cores should ban autos.

Why can we not learn from what they've done in several European cities?

Why can we not learn?

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Voting closed 54

... smart people.

I guess until we learn something from the School of Hard Knocks, pedestrians, cyclists and etc will continue to be knocked down in Harvard Square.

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Oxford Street London, downtown Budapest, Market Street San Francisco, Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

Those are cities all over the world.

All high pedestrian areas, all have high vehicle traffic, some like Harvard Square and Times Square have restrictions to plan for the inevitable mistakes of participants in the human stew.

If you want to turn Cambridge into Ecotpoia get off your arse and run for office but your again extremism for your point of view is unproductive owing to your sole position that everyone should be on two feet or two wheels.

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Voting closed 39

Man who spends all his time in a car complains that he might have to get out of it and walk through an area laid out 300 years before cars mattered.

The horrors.

When was the last time you went to/through Harvard Square?

When was the last time you were in London? Was it after the congestion charging scheme cut down the traffic in the locations you noted?

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Voting closed 45

Having been up and down Oxford Street in London within the last couple of years, and O'Connell Street in Dublin for that matter, I can assure you that both were still jam-packed with traffic. Oxford Street, in particular, left me disgusted. Hordes of shoppers from abroad (enough to push you off the sidewalk or up against a building) mobbing the high-end department stores for $500 track pants while buses and black London taxis sit in gridlock, idling and pumping out exhaust. Loud, dirty, and obnoxious. Perhaps that place should go pedestrians-only. It took multiple G&Ts to wash the taste of that street out of my mouth--thank God London has that part figured out.

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I spent $1,470 on the T last year, while working from home 3 days a week, but I guess I spent all my time in that car.....

I don't go to Harvard Square anymore because it is full of banks, CVS locations, clothing stores owned by Republicans, and people who take the 96 who scream and yell a lot without knowing what they are talking about.

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Voting closed 25

Not for a long time. I guess you don’t get out much.

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Voting closed 29

I do, I live in Massachusetts, not New York.

You on the other hand see to fail to realize I said vehicles, not trucks.

Here is the Bunker Hill Community College reading comprehension test. See how you do.

https://www.bhcc.edu/cptpractice/readingcomprehensionsampletest/

Do you know a lot about Times Square? I know it is full of bright lights and people mindlessly staring up at bright lights, or is it you like people dressed up in costumes of all your favorite comic book characters? That's it, isn't it? Bright lights and comic book characters. You are special.

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Like out of your mind.
The Bunker Hill CC set has more dignity and better reading skills than you, Mighty Great World Traveler.

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Trucks are responsible for most of the crashes.

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Voting closed 14

Two different things.

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Market Street in SF was permanently closed to private vehicle traffic earlier this year. Even our peer cities in the US are figuring this stuff out.

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Michigan Avenue? Really? You want to compare an extra-wide, straight-as-an-arrow street with wide sidewalks to anything in Boston or Cambridge?

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It serves far more people by bus than car, of course (as does Lake Shore Drive) but the sidewalks are far too narrow. It should be buses only with wider sidewalks, and maybe a couple of lanes of traffic in one direction.

CDOT/IDOT are as backwards as BTD/MassDOT, alas.

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Voting closed 17

Politicians can't do anything. They're not rich. It's whoever owns the land and structures in Harvard Square who decide. They run the show. And if you want to know who They are, simply pick an address, get the deed reference from the assessor's website, go to Middlesex South Registry of Deeds website and type in the book and page of deed. Go from there. If the owner is an entity which more than likely it is, then you go to MA Corporations Division website to look it up to see who the individuals are. And there is your answer.

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Voting closed 15

Easy to usurp land for you needs, but where do the cars and busses go?

Is your plan to make JKF, Mass Ave, Cambridge St., and Harvard all dead ends?

When you look at DTX as a pedestrian model, it's not great. Yes, tourists can walk around and take photos, sit and relax, but the businesses suffer tremendously.

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Voting closed 18

When you look at DTX as a pedestrian model, it's not great. Yes, tourists can walk around and take photos, sit and relax, but the businesses suffer tremendously.

You made a good point about the difficulty of redirecting traffic and then you said this.

The businesses suffer tremendously? In DTX? Because of people... walking instead of driving? Have you not been there since the 80's?

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I'm there all the time. Have you not noticed the store closings and vacancies? Long gone are button shop, watch dr, camera store, and what remains is empty storefronts, corp food, cheesy corp flagship stores, and banks that keep their location for advertising.

Again, if you want to just hang out and not buy anything other than some food, it's great for people. It just sucks for retail. The mom and pop shops of Harvard Square can't afford to lose customers that want to drive.

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Windsor Button was a profitable business that got kicked out by a greedy landlord who wanted to open something more trendy. Their storefront sat empty for 5+ years because the landlord had no real plan.

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Voting closed 53

Are you saying that failing DTX businesses would be saved if... cars could drive more closely past them? Or if current pedestrian space was reallocated to something like 25 parking spaces?

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I'm saying that DTX is the corp wasteland that is today because of people that said things like, "these businesses will do fine if they don't have the customers that insist on driving." Once you take that away, there's no putting it back. You can't recreate these historic shops after they go belly up.

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RENT INCREASES, not lack of parking, killed small and family businesses in DTX. There's plenty of parking around Downtown Boston. There isn't plenty of reasonable rent.

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Rent increases because of the housing crisis. If the businesses were very profitable then they should be able to keep up. However, it isn't that easy to create housing in Boston, so the place stays empty.

These shops are all ground level. Who is renting the upper floors? How much do they pay?

Boston is full of 20 to 50 year old offices that can't attract modern business. These spaces aren't zoned for living though. I wonder what the process would be? It would be a great area for micro apartments.

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There was NEVER room for sufficient nearby parking to provide a base for those businesses. People took public transit to get there.

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There were lots you can hand someone some cash and park in then get in and out. Before they put the haymarket garage in many people drove to haymarket.

And I know it's hard to imagine, but it wasn't that long ago you could actually park on the street!

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Voting closed 13

I'm adding up the number of parking spaces in all the streets around dtx, if every single one were open to parking, and I'm not so sure they'd make the difference. Where do your numbers come from, since you're very sure that this would fix the problem?

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Voting closed 13

Just to echo prior comments, the lack of businesses in DTX has nothing to do with automobile access. I worked down there in the late 80s/early 90s (when cars were banned) and DTX was packed and vibrant every day.

As with Harvard Square, the problem has much more to do with landlords who would rather let their businesses sit empty (and write off the lost rent at inflated "market" prices) than rent them out at "below-market" rates, which would depress the paper values of all their properties.

It ain't rocket science.

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Voting closed 38

Car traffic being banned around DTX didn't just happen overnight. It's been chipped away at for years. Initially the police didn't care if you wanted to drive down Washington to pick up something at a store--it was tolerated. Same with Winter to Sumner. And not long ago you could still drive up Franklin to Broomfield and then when the tower went up Franklin was reserved to go to the tower only. THEN, no so coincidentally a lot of shops on Broomfield closed.

Commercial real estate landlords holding out for big corp clients is nothing new. Frankly they know these mom and pop stores are going to starve and they'd rather go fishing for a bigger tenant than sit idle and watch their tenants starve.

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So basically, you're saying that the landlords are doing their mom & pop tenants a favor by kicking them out! OK, got it. You sound smart.

Frankly they know these mom and pop stores are going to starve and they'd rather go fishing for a bigger tenant than sit idle and watch their tenants starve.

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No, I'm just saying your theory that these business will do better with less customers after they block off vehicle access to their shops is nuts.

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It's not a "theory", Einstein. I worked in that neighborhood for years, long after traffic was already blocked off, and the businesses were doing fine. If you think that the small number of assholes who were willing to break the law and drive through the pedestrian zone were crucial to keeping those businesses afloat, you're delusional.

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Again, you act like traffic stopped on a particular day. It didn't. Just in the last couple weeks they removed even more public parking and ripped out car lanes.

If you like sucking from the corp teet coffee stores then DTX is the place for you--just stay there please and don't mess with Harvard Square!

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Again, you act like traffic stopped on a particular day.

No, I'm acting like traffic was almost entirely stopped 30 years ago when I worked there, and the business district was thriving.

sucking from the corp teet coffee stores ... don't mess with Harvard Square!

If you don't like corporate retail stores, I have some bad news for you about Harvard Square.

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after they block off vehicle access to their shops

You keep saying this as if "vehicle access" without parking means something.

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For call ahead and pickups, yes it does. I suppose if you don't even own a car you wouldn't know that though.

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I also know that "call ahead and pickups" won't scale the way you think. Again...show your work.

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You seem to forget that over the same period that the streets closed, malls were built in the suburbs and online shopping grew. Street parking is not the only reason people don't shop downtown. DTX will have more customers when it gets more residents.

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That started happening 20 years ago and that had nothing to do w/ cars... it had to do w/ the city ignoring DTX whilst building up the Seaport.

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Long gone are button shop, watch dr, camera store,

Those businesses were on Temple Place and Bromfield Street, both streets open to automotive traffic. You're not really helping your argument at all.

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Have you ever been there and taken note of the traffic pattern? Bromfield is inaccessable except if you circle down school and over and up--can't even get to where the camera shop was. Temple is the same, loops you back out to Tremont. Bunch of streets to nowhere that you get stuck behind buses and avoid like the plague.

I guess you don't drive?

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Voting closed 14

...is so bizarre. A button shop? A camera store? Watch repair? Next you're going to tell me about that millinery that went under because cars couldn't drive up to it. I live in the far suburbs now, and when I have to go to DTX a few times a year I either park under the common or take the T. Even if I could drive down Washington Street I wouldn't, for the same reasons I don't drive down Newbury Street. I think you're in pretty far over head on this argument.

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Voting closed 17

Nah, I just had no idea you all wanted such corp bootlicking stores.

I like to shop independant places.

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... after spending so much time beating up that strawman.

I just had no idea you all wanted such corp bootlicking stores.

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Harvard Square is failing despite being all cars.

DTX is failing because there aren't any cars.

Maybe cars have nothing to do with it?

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It's not that hard: small businesses can't afford to loose customers. When you wall off street traffic, you loose customers.

DTX is all corporate stores because they are essentially billboards for brands. Harvard Sq. is struggling as is, will become a corp wasteland if they loose car traffic.

Seems like because you can't afford a car you're angry at the people that drive?

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Voting closed 15

Oh man. Have you been there, like, ever? In the before times it was packed with foot traffic all the time! There's no shortage of customers. The robber baron landlord(s) charges exhorbitant rates that constantly crowded businesses like Black Ink and Crema Cafe could not meet no matter what the prices they charged. They didn't close up because they didn't do huge business.

Also, you might not be aware having never been here, but there's a friggin highly trafficked T stop right in the middle of the square called "Harvard Square" constantly bringing new customers, not to mention all the parents, students, and foreign tourists wandering through the square.

The people driving through the square are mostly not stopping, a) because there's almost no where to park and b) they're mostly on their way somewhere else.

Also:
lose = to miss from one's possession or from a customary or supposed place
loose = not rigidly fastened or securely attached

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Voting closed 25

I go there all the time wiseguy and I drive because the red line is the END of the line and crazy inconvenient for those not starting on the red line. Plenty of places to park, you just walk a little.

Also, "no where" is one word.

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Voting closed 12

A) If you "go there all the time," you know "plenty of places to park" in Harvard Square is just a lie you're spouting to try to salvage a completely wrong argument. Everyone knows this, there's even a saying about how hard it is. Don't be a troll.

B) Harvard Square is not the end of the line, that's just another dumb lie. I don't know even know what point you're trying to make here, but maybe you're not familiar with the T? Besides the fact that Alewife is the end of the line, there's many buses and shuttles that connect to Harvard Square station. It's one of the most public transport accessible places in the entire system. Also, it's TEN MINUTES from Park St. How the hell is that crazy inconvenient?!!

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Voting closed 19

When did anyone ever sit and relax in DTX?

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There's actually some really nice places to sit and relax now! Near the T entrance in front of the Millennium tower and on a few neighboring roads. I used to enjoy taking outdoor lunches once in a while. Compared with DTX from a few decades ago, the place is wonderful.

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Voting closed 18

Those seats and tables get a lot of use

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Voting closed 11

It’s as busy and as profitable as Filenes Basement. More and more people actually live in or near DTX. Street life is as lively as ever. Even with Covid. I don’t think you’ve actually been there.

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Voting closed 37

Walk through there all the time on the way to Chinatown and I never stop at the corp billboard stores. Sure the supermarket is nice but other than that how many sneaker stores do you need?

I like that Harvard Square still has some mom and pop retail stores. Maybe if you're so used to sucking from corp retailer teet you don't know any different? Sad.

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Voting closed 13

?

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Voting closed 19

Nah you're good bro. Your favorite store is the supermarket. I envy your simplicity in life. Some of us need a little more culture though.

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Voting closed 12

... isn’t my cup of tea anymore. But the Jeweler’s Building still has fine craftspeople and the Old South Meeting House is always nice to visit.
The Opera House and Paramount will hopefully reopen. The bookstore on West Street hasn’t closed for good. I’m told The Tremont Tea Room and it’s fortune tellers still exist somewhere on an upper floor. The steps above the T stop are great for people watching and hearing good music.
Chinatown seems to be the last holdout for small business. I’m sorry to see New Saigon Sandwich shut it’s door.

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Voting closed 21

They are large motor vehicles, too.

And before you mention the obvious, no, squeezing all the buses into the ancient, non-ADA compliant* Harvard busway is not an option. Besides adding much more time to routes like the 68 and 69, it's also important to note that CNG buses, which often run on the 1 and 66, cannot go into the tunnel for safety reasons. No, they can't be replaced fully with diesel-electric hybrids -- CNG buses have much lower emissions, and it would be an environmental injustice to explicitly send diesels to Nubian Sq.

*At least not for the lower busway, where the platform is on the left side of the bus.

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Voting closed 12

So why not keep 10' in each direction for buses and emergency vehicles? Folks will meander into that pavement now and again -- the bus will have to drive at 5-10 mph for a half-dozen blocks. But that's not remarkably slower than their pace now, so what's the problem exactly?

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Voting closed 15

The problem is Harvard Square is the original commercial center of the area, so all the through roads funnel through it. The only alternative is zig-zagging through tiny residential streets.

How would anyone drive from Belmont to Kendall, or Brookline to Porter, without passing through the center of Harvard Square?

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Voting closed 16

Squares, avoiding Harvard Square altogether.

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Voting closed 14

I suppose you could detour Brookline to Porter traffic through Central, if you want to waste everyone's time, and unload Harvard's traffic problem onto residents of Central.

Belmont to Kendall can't go through Central or Inman without first going through Harvard.

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is Rt 2 to Memorial Drive.

Okay, Memorial Drive is about a quarter mile from Harvard Square. But it isn't "the center".

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Voting closed 12

Ok. I guess I was thinking of trucks, because of the incident which started this discussion. Trucks aren't allowed on Mem Drive. And plenty of people would like to close Mem Drive to all motor vehicles, as it now is on Saturdays in addition to Sundays.

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Voting closed 4

First of all I have seen A lot of bikes cutting across traffic and A lot of reckless bikers. People have a right to drive to work. And people who live their have a right to have a car! I say put restrict the hours on these big trucks to early morning like 5 am and late at night say 11 pm

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Voting closed 3

Scary. Be safe cyclists and pedestrians.

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Voting closed 30

Motorists and truck drivers please learn to drive safely or get off the road.

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Voting closed 44

Pedal mashers, please realize that tractor trailers have blind spots the size of Texas, and that you're not visible for hundreds of light years in every direction and you're most definitely not made out of pure indestructible adamantium. Blowing past one of the right at a busy intersection is like knowingly and willingly playing Russian roulette with a pistol.

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Voting closed 10

Technology can eliminate blind spots for tractor trailers. If you can't control your vehicle safely then you are not qualified to drive that vehicle.

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Voting closed 17

Don't blame "pedal mashers" (cool sobriquet there, pops) when tractor trailers, which have greatly increased in size over the years, are allowed in an area where the infrastructure is not suited to them and where they should simply not be allowed.

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Voting closed 12

No message for drivers?

Your virtue signaling does me no good.

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Voting closed 23

Sometimes it's about the victim... is that okay with you, Lee?

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Voting closed 14

They are doing construction in Harvard Square and have closed a lane in each direction. On JFK street the parking lane is closed for restaurant seating too so there's no buffer for cyclists should a passing car/truck drift toward them.

The whole place is a mess. I ride through most days and have seen some sketchy things as the construction equipment creeps out into the road and people abruptly cut into other lanes.

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Voting closed 61

Is there some sort of Covid-related suspension of the rules related to police details for construction work? I'm not in favor of requiring police detail but I've been surprised to see some pretty dangerous-looking worksites recently without one in sight. (I don't think we should be paying cop prices to have someone to make sure passersby don't get their head bonked in but I definitely think someone should be doing that!)

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Voting closed 20

But I have noticed a surprising lack of cops around the construction zone.

It looks like the collision happened on the other side of the square where Mass Ave outbound rejoins Mass Ave inbound. (Between Out of Town News and Harvard Yard.) So this collision is probably unrelated to the construction zone.

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Voting closed 19

When I’m out on my zero speed bike in the city, I’ve never had issues with vehicles. I don’t bike like I’m doing the Tour de France so I can brake if a vehicle comes close to me. I think bikers need to slow down.

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Voting closed 11

...that speed was a factor here?

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Voting closed 10

But there's no reason for a tractor-trailer to drive through Harvard Square. Transfer that shit to a smaller truck (or van).

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Voting closed 53

Mass Ave is State Highway 2A. It's not Craigie St. It has all the necessary dimensions to carry tractor trailers. That's what highways are for.

But it goes right through Harvard Square. This is a HUGE conflict because Harvard Square is largely pedestrian-sized. It ends up not being a good fit for pedestrians, the highway, bikes, or anyone.

The bike "lane" if you want to stay on Mass Ave going west requires you to CROSS both lanes of Mass Ave (in only a few hundred feet!), then actually goes up onto the sidewalk across the park because there's no good way to fit bikes with all the lane splits...then you have to hit the right light cycle to cross 4 more lanes of traffic to keep going on Mass Ave!

Because of the way the lanes split everywhere, pedestrians are almost invited to ignore the signals because it's only 1-2 lanes of one-way traffic unlike crossing the highway...er, Mass Ave in like Central Square where it's 4-5 lanes wide.

Cars and trucks have multiple red lights, merges, splits, and highway signs while dodging pedestrians and cyclists who may or may not be following their own signals. The Broadway/Mass Ave split is the best...as a lane just forms out of nowhere (no markings as to whether it split from the left or right lane)...it has no markings to designate if it's meant for Mass Ave or Broadway...and then it just splits in half again and goes to both. One of which has a 14' height restriction as you go under Harvard Yard...and the first sign for it is 100 ft before the tunnel AFTER the split.

The whole thing needs a total redesign...but then you're fighting the fact that they can't/won't touch the Common, Harvard Yard, and still have to accommodate the bus ramp for the MBTA station. In fact, they can't even bury most of it in a tunnel because of the MBTA station directly below it all. So, you want to stop trucks from being there? Don't keep it as a highway, but then your only choice after that is going to be to make a bunch of dead-ends, because the entire thing is a minefield of past choices.

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Voting closed 36

Mass Ave is State Highway 2A.

State highway designations can be re-routed.

This is a HUGE conflict because Harvard Square is largely pedestrian-sized.

My point exactly.

The bike "lane" if you want to stay on Mass Ave going west requires you to CROSS both lanes of Mass Ave (in only a few hundred feet!), then actually goes up onto the sidewalk across the park because there's no good way to fit bikes with all the lane splits...then you have to hit the right light cycle to cross 4 more lanes of traffic to keep going on Mass Ave!

You're making my point for me. Or is your point that motor vehicle traffic always has to take precedence over pedestrian or bicycle traffic when there's a conflict?

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Voting closed 14

Where would you reroute through traffic to?

The only east-west alternative is Memorial Drive, where everyone certainly doesn't want trucks, and cars can't use it on weekends. Or Garden Street through the underpass to Cambridge Street/Broadway, but that doesn't help if you need to get to Mount Auburn Street west to Watertown, or Mass Ave to Central Square.

North-south there is no alternative.

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Voting closed 12

and didn't need your help reconstructing them. He didn't say any of the things you tried to make him say. He did face up to the many difficulties with the situation, which apparently put his argument beyond your understanding.

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Voting closed 26

...when they could just check in with the folks here at U-Hub. Any time there's a accident involving a cyclist everyone here knows exactly who is at fault, without needing even a single detail.

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Voting closed 14

If you look at crash data, you would agree.

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Voting closed 14

Convert Harvard square to a wetland sanctuary. No pedestrians, no bikes, no autos. That way no one can get hurt.

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Voting closed 12

The bicyclist saw some acquaintances (including his niece) on the sidewalk across the street from where he was riding. He had been in the bike lane, but swerved across the traffic lanes to visit with his friends and relatives.

While there is a lot of construction in other parts of the square, as well as lane narrowings for restaurants, neither of those has really had any impact on the area where this unfortunate crash occurred. It was between the subway station and the old newsstand on one side, and Harvard Yard across the street.

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Voting closed 15