What to do about Beacon Street

On November 23, 2012, in Latest News, by The News Staff

By William C. Shelton

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)

There is a lively online discussion on The Somerville News website. Its primary topic is the city’s reconstruction plan for Beacon Street. A secondary one is its banishing from official communications the term “illegal immigrant” when describing people who are in the country illegally.

As Tip O’Neil famously said, “All politics are local.” And followed through to their roots, these issues reveal much, not just about Somerville’s changing population and strong-mayor form of government, but also about our larger economic and political institutions’ inability to confront the nation’s most serious challenges. Since there is only space in this column for one of them, let’s focus on Beacon Street.

I’m delighted that it will finally be resurfaced, and at small expense to Somerville taxpayers. I’m weary of praying that the fillings won’t shake out of my teeth when I drive on it.

The city’s reconstruction plan would also build divided bicycle tracks between Oxford and Washington Streets, since in good weather 300 cyclists per hour travel that route during morning and evening commute times. But it proposes eliminating half (111) of the route’s existing parking spots to make room for the bike tracks. It references a study that says half the spaces are not currently utilized.

Seven hundred neighborhood residents and small business owners have signed a petition opposing the plan. They say that there is scant parking for them already. They point to flaws in the study, most glaring of which is that it was conducted when nearby Harvard and Lesley Universities were not in session.

The mayor would like for the city to do whatever it can to reduce the use of automobiles. Eliminating congestion, reducing pollution, and retarding climate change are indeed worthy goals.

But there are plenty of people who have no other choice than to drive if they are to earn a living or care for their kids. This was not such a problem when Somerville had a wealth of factory jobs, and trolleys took ‘Villens to work, school, and play. Today the jobs and trolleys are gone, and parking is scarce in many of our 19th-Century neighborhoods.

As might be expected, young professionals who have moved to Somerville in recent decades are disproportionately represented among the bicycle track advocates. People who were born and raised here are increasingly being priced out of the housing market. They are disproportionately represented among those who must rely on a car to get to work.

I would not like to see it become incrementally more difficult for them to remain in the city that they grew up in. And not just for their sakes. They tend to invest themselves in community life, while young professionals tend to remain aloof and, too often, leave town when their kids reach school age. This is changing, as I reported in a series of columns last year. But on balance, the distinction remains accurate.

Viewing this as a conflict of New Somerville versus Old Somerville, however, is misleading and unhelpful. The problems that we face as a community, a nation, and a species are socially created. But we are offered only individual solutions.

By myself, I cannot grow the economy, bring back the trolleys, or expand our city’s limited open space. The individual solution available to me is to own a car that can take me to work and to open space. But that individual solution in turn worsens the social problems of congestion, pollution, and climate change.

I don’t choose to drive because I’m stupid or indifferent to the quality of my community or to the fate of the planet. I make the choice because our economic and political institutions cannot offer me a better one.

Our nation’s political leaders lack the courage or capacity to acknowledge this relationship between institutionally created problems and individual solutions that worsen those problems but reinforce the institutions.  While patronizing the “middle class,” they implicitly deny that sustaining the American dream would require transforming our institutions, not just tweaking fiscal policies.

A number of the world’s religions teach us that we are our brothers’ keepers. Socialism was the only widely embraced secular ideology that also viewed all of humanity as one community. Of course, much of what religious and socialist leaders did made a mockery of what they preached.

But the goals of ordinary people who embraced socialism were admirable and seemingly modest: employment for anyone willing to work, economic security in old age, effective education and healthcare, community integrity, and a say in governance.

Perhaps such a shared human identity is impossible to achieve, and goals of peace, equality of opportunity, and minimal material wellbeing for all are impossible. But here in Somerville, where politics are local, perhaps we could create a shared ‘Villen identity.

Because our institutions can only offer us individual solutions to social problems, we might view the Beacon Street conflict as planetary stewards vs. the environmentally irresponsible, or myopic yuppies vs. struggling working families, or indifferent motorists vs. dead cyclists.

Here is how city government could heal those false distinctions and build a stronger community.

Bring all of the stakeholders together and create a conversation in which they see the shared situation through each other’s eyes. Somerville’s richly diverse population includes people with skills and talent in urban design, traffic engineering, community building, and related disciplines. Recruit them and make them part of the conversation from the beginning.

When everyone has been heard and knows they have been heard, identify creative, pragmatic solutions that honor everyone’s experience. I understand that we face such physical constraints as road dimensions. But too often I’ve seen grossly inadequate solutions to urban design problems that were based on received wisdom rather than on solid data and unconstrained creativity.

Seek consensus to implement the most promising solution as a trial. A conflict like this typically ends with the dominant party implementing its solution, the losing party remaining resentfully, and sometimes accurately, convinced of its rightness, and no institutional learning that can avoid or craft better solutions to such conflicts in the future.

Avoid this by building into the process a period for monitoring the solution—perhaps a year—and a scheduled series of participatory events where the accumulated data will be reviewed and the solution modified appropriately.

Somerville has all of the tough challenges of a big city, but it has the talent and manageable scale to craft and implement brilliant responses while building shared community. Does it have the will?

 

 

26 Responses to “What to do about Beacon Street”

  1. rick says:

    First, do you know why nobody parks on the even side of Beacon Street? Because our brilliant Mayor and his crack team of engineers decided it would be a great idea to make the parking spots have parking meters, when there are no businesses and not enough residences to warrant such meters. They wasted thousands of dollars in man hours and in meter purchases for nothing. Truly an ‘Epic Fail.’ Word is, they wanted to discourage people from parking there and walking to work near the Harvard area of Cambridge (total dick move, really, especially if it were Somerville residents parking there, but then again, Mayor Curtatone doesn’t really care about the residents of this city, he cares about making the city look and act like Cambridge, but on a quarter of the money). The city has done work in every ward and every major street over the last ten of fifteen years, and Beacon Street is routinely forgotten about. Most likely because they can’t make any money in that part of town. On top of it, the city has decided to put up those annoying Hubway stations on many locations that take up parking spots and commercial loading zones, making it harder for people to shop and for business to get the supplies they need.

    Second, I would like to know why bikers don’t have to register their bikes and pay taxes like automobile owners. I don’t want my excise tax on my car to pay for bike lanes; I want bikers to pay for bike lanes. And just to be clear, I am an avid recreational bicyclist who occasionally bikes to work. I would have no problem paying a small yearly fee to maintain the bike lanes and bike paths, and promote future development for bicycle travel around the city.

    Third, I wish Curtatone would stop this nonsense about discouraging cars in Somerville. His big plans for lights on Somerville Ave have not, and will never, discourage people from driving on Somerville Ave. Seriously. The city’s newest baseball field is there (Conway), the city’s best Chinese food restaurant is there (China Delight, which lost parking spaces and business when Somerville Ave was redesigned), and, last but certainly not least, Market Basket is located at ground zero, where the lights cause the most traffic between Dane Street and Union Square. How in the world could someone decide to put up more street lights near one of the state’s busiest supermarkets and come to a serious conclusion that traffic will eventually subside? Not to mention that the traffic on Somerville Avenue was never really that bad to begin with… traffic on Highland Ave is usually much worse, but that’s never too terrible, either.

    I know my rant will fall on deaf ears (or blind eyes), and that’s what makes this whole thing so frustrating. I’ve lived in Somerville for all of my 27 years, but like so many of my fellow Somerville lifers, I do not see myself making a life here, nor do I want to. Even if some of the proposals are good ones, the Curtatone administration does not listen to the residents of this city, primarily because they are fixated with becoming a clone of Cambridge, which can never happen. Why can it never happen? Two words: Harvard, and MIT. Those schools (not to mention Lesley and Cambridge College), pay Cambridge tens of millions of dollars per year, and they are responsible for building and maintaining playgrounds around the city. Somerville, we only get the ass end of Tufts’ field, which generates no income. Medford takes most of the Tufts money, leaving Somerville with no higher instituions to help with community costs.

    Finally, Socialism is a fine idea on paper, but Governments become corrupt no matter who is in charge and over time, business will begin to be abused and taxed too much, and in the end, everyone will have less than they started with and be worse off. This is the real world, not some philosophical history book where all people are inherently good.

  2. j. connelly says:

    A] Tip O’Neill was the usual politician, a true P.T. Barnum (” A sucker born every minute”) While he did the usual, he also made sure that he got his peace of pie. People who worked in the both the private/public sector got screwed by both Reagan/O’Neill, who denied them full access to the $$$ those people invested in Social Security, but both of them made sure they got what they wanted. Similar to the Kennedy Camelot myth. A lot of the male Kennedys abused, harmed, and lack total respect for women. Some of them cheat[ed] on their wives, drove the wives to alcohol/drug abuse, one married, had sex with the teenage babysitter, one beat up nurses, another young woman was crippled for life and one was killed while Teddy worried more about his image than rescuing her. So let’s not praise or give credit to the likes of these lowlifes.

    B] The mayor is an “employee” who is suppose to serve ALL the people, not a select few.

    C] Big buildings cause more harm to the environment than automobiles and according to the federal government over a ten year period that bicycles have been in use in several cities there was NO reduction in pollution ten years later. So the bicycle/environment issue is crap.

    D] They did the survey when a large group of transient residents (college students) had left at the end of the school term. The mayor & the PR guy waived their magic wand to produce more UNreliable facts.

    People need cars. Trucks (diesel) give off more pollution than cars. Take way from the existing street space will mean more delivery trucks and that will bring an increase in pollution.
    So the resolve to this is True Transparency, which will not exist while the city is served by this administration. This administration has proven this with the coverup of various past issues, missing funds being the prime example.

  3. Lucas Rogers says:

    The author emphasizes the importance of “hard data.” He also states that those born and raised in Somerville “tend to invest themselves in community life,” while “young professionals tend to remain aloof and, too often, leave town when their kids reach school age.” What “hard data” supports this assertion? In the absence of such hard data, the statement is mere prejudice.

  4. Ray Spitter says:

    Lucas, open your eyes – that’s all the hard data you need. The young liberal trust funders live here while they’re young and trying to be “cool” (that whole bohemian thing), but as soon as they start to procreate – gone.

    We should have bounties on bicyclists after 11/01 each year or after the first snowfall. Take out a moron and get $100. Thin the herd. It’s needed.

  5. Harry says:

    Spitter, last time I said something like that online, cops came to see me. They had a few unsolved hit and run cases and they do f*ing monitor the internets! Big brother…

  6. Susan says:

    As stated above, the idea of getting people to drive less is ludicrous. Many people simply cannot drive less. If you work outside of the city, not on a transit line, you must drive. If you have children, you must drive. If you are disabled, or have any medical issues, you must drive. However, not even considering those issues, it comes down to this. Motorists pay registration fees, insurance, excise taxes, parking permit fees, etc. Bicyclists pay nothing. And yet, bicyclists abuse this privilege every day by running red lights, travelling one way streets the wrong way, and generally creating havoc on the roads. The city has allowed this behavior, has even celebrated it. And I agree about the old vs. new Somervillians. The new, mostly young, residents do not take part in community affairs, and often don’t even vote in local elections. Many of them in my neighborhood do not interact with the neighbors at all. They seem to like the idea of living in a city neighborhood, but not the reality. But there is no point even discussing this, it’s a done deal, as usual.

  7. Rob Buchanan says:

    I don’t disagree with the parking challenges and reliance people have on automobiles to get around. For many, there is really no other choice, and it’s a testament to our long standing underinvestment in public transportation that we are all faced with so few options.

    However, I’m growing awfully tired of the kind of comments like Ray Spitter’s (suggesting to “thin the herd”) about our own neighbors. How can we have a productive and respectful dialogue when people say such things? If we can resolve ways to share our roadways without resorting to name calling and threats, then we’re a sorry set.

    The fact is, many people in Somerville (and nationwide, frankly) are turning to bicycling to get work, in part because it’s a whole lot cheaper: no costs for car payments, gas, MBTA fares, etc. While I agree that the daredevils and idiots who run red lights and weave about traffic need to be fined (like all idiots on the road), the people who are commuting to work are increasingly a diverse crowd: young people, old people, men and women, skinny and otherwise. They’re trying to save a buck just like you and me (and maybe lose a few pounds in the process).

    I think we as a community should be supportive of people who may not have the luxury of commuting by car to their jobs. If that means we create safer means for them to do it, I’m all for it. I agree that we need to look at ways to mitigate parking concerns for residents and businesses along Beacon Street, and I think there are some worthy ideas out there that should be examined. But to suggest that all bicyclists are trust fund babies who have no long-term commitment to Somerville is both an insult and wildly inaccurate.

    The needs of the community are changing, and we need to work together to address them.

  8. A. Moore says:

    Just resurface the road. No need for a bike track. We are talking spending millions for less than 4% of the population in Somerville to use only part of the year as it is. We need the money for real problems in the city. And we need to stop crippling the small businesses here. We can’t count as fast as this debt is accumilating and we need to stop the needless spending on things that do little or nothing for the city.

  9. MarketMan says:

    Rob: thanks for your post. I agree that many people bike to work because driving/parking costs are prohibitive.

  10. j. connelly says:

    “I think we as a community should be supportive of people who may not have the luxury of commuting by car to their jobs.” I can agree with this statement but not when it is a free ride for a few “no costs” and that burden is just placed upon the people who drive a car, motorcycle, or licensed scooter. The bicyclists should be required to have license plates on their bikes and be insured and accountable to the sames fees & taxes as vehicle drivers.

    Anyone who wants to use the existing “public” roadways should pay just like all the people pay for “public” Transportation, whether they use it or not.

    The economy is tough, we cannot afford to give the few seasonal bike riders a free ride at everyone elses expense. It is unjust and gro$$ly unfair. If there is any federal police public safety funding coming out of Washington, Congressman Capuano should make sure some of it finds its way to assist the Somerville PD to put officers on bikes to catch those offensive bikers…I’m tired of dodging them on the sidewalks in the squares.

  11. Rob Buchanan says:

    “The bicyclists should be required to have license plates on their bikes and be insured and accountable to the sames fees & taxes as vehicle drivers.”

    Hi J. It’s a relief to hear your concerns are really about equity and not some reflexive bias against bicycling. So often, I hear people say things like, “the roads are for cars, not bikes” which (excepting interstates) is inaccurate. It also feels like a lot of people are taking an entitlement mentality to the roads (e.g. “Only how I choose to get around town is valid and should supported by public spending. The rest of you can pound sand.”) Don’t you just want to say these people, “get off your high horse?!” We all live here. We have to learn to share.

    I agree there needs to be greater accountability for persons on bikes. I think license plates and registration fees seem reasonable. Gas taxes obviously wouldn’t apply and I think resident-only parking stickers would defeat the purpose of trying to encourage more people to bike instead of drive. (Plus bikes take up a fraction of the space of cars.) Bikes should be REQUIRED to have lights at night.

    I’d have to give insurance more thought. On the one hand, bikes are unlikely to cause much direct property damage given their size difference. However, I could imagine a car swerving to avoid an at-fault bicyclist and hitting something (or someone) more sizeable. Plus, bike-on-bike and bike-on-pedestrian collisions can cause some real personal injury, so that seems worth thinking about.

    Once, I was waiting for the walk light at an intersection, but I was standing off the curb in the bike lane and was nearly run down by a cyclist who had the right-of-way. I was at fault. Should pedestrians have to carry insurance too? I guess walking in America is no longer free!

    The other consideration is that I wouldn’t want to make bicycling requirements so onerous that kids and “seasonal” bicyclists can’t bike. These aren’t motorized vehicles we’re talking about after all.

    I also agree that there needs to be greater traffic enforcement, both in Somerville and throughout the Boston area. This is one issue I’ve never been able to figure out. Given how Boston drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians behave, it seems like the cost of putting some traffic enforcers out on the street would pay for itself in fines. Honestly, you can stand on ANY street corner and witness infraction after infraction left and right. I don’t think we need the feds or anyone else to cover this cost; it would be self-funding.

  12. Somerbreeze says:

    j. connelly – Bike enforcement sputtered out in the late spring and City Hall let its ballyhooed public safety campaign evaporate–despite constituent complaints…

    The sidewalk cyclists have continued their violations of public safety because City Hall won’t call errant cyclists to account–City Hall is in bed with the Bike Lobby…

    And City Hall has no compunction in favoring cyclists over local businesses/motorists in the taking of parking spaces on Beacon Street….

  13. Ray Spitter says:

    Property taxes rates just went up again (13.09% to 13,42%) and Joey “tickets” Curtatone ain’t done yet screwing us over. I bet we’ll get to pay for more free publicity (fireworks and other stupid, wasted crap) for this corrupt prick of a mayor who is just vying for Capuano’s seat when he gets kicked “up” by the mafia bosses (read: Democrat party machine).

    Just what exactly do we get from Joey for all the taxes we pay? This hot, stinkin’ garbage of more bicycles. Seriously, how many of you have almost wiped out a biker because the nitiwits ride around at night with dark clothes on and zero reflectors? I almost hit some chick a while back on Holland street and she had the gall to say “Be careful!” and I just want OFF and asked if she was damp in the head to be riding in the rain and at night with dark clothes on. Who can see a bicyclist?? Who raised these kids and why was I one to reprimand her? Most likely she has some liberal, Cambridge-refugee retards for parents.

    Anyway, there is also a “transportation tax” coming. You asked for it imbeciles when you voted (D) across the board and now you’re going to get it. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2012/11/16/patrick-poised-call-for-transportation-tax-hike/2CB3FzdX60Jxs0hGW2FVXL/story.html

  14. j. connelly says:

    That’s probably why the Casino guy went to Everett offering a casino deal. He probably researched and knows how bad our mayor really is.
    joe’s eliminating streets and narrowing Broadway…No business is going to invest in a city that curtails people from entering/leaving it and makes traveling in it a nightmare. Atta boy joe, just keep on playin that fiddle while the city burns away from your “Lego” dreams.

  15. j. connelly says:

    “Ray” very good points. “dark clothes on and zero reflectors”, etc.
    Where are our state Senator Jehlen and DiDomenico and Representatives Sciortino, Provost, and Twoomey???? They passed the bicycle legislation and did not make sure that safety issues were addressed in this legislation. Meanwhile auto insurance rates climb while a FEW incompetent people ride bikes dangerously on the road, no reflective clothing and proper bright lights on their bikes.

    Evidently they just sit there and vote without thoroughly reading the legislation. Collecting Big $$$ and benefits for not doing their jobs
    Evidently they have “Lego Syndrome”….Take care of a few – screw the majority.

  16. Joe Supporter says:

    Connelly, Spitter and the rest of the rabid crowd: You are just envious Joe has achieved things you could never even dreaming of achieving. Perhaps he raised property taxes by 13%. So what? Somerville is hot! You wanna live here? Then you better pay up, you little punks. Otherwise, go to Chelsea…

  17. A. Moore says:

    Rob, insurance is the big issue with me. If you ahve an accident with a biker and the biker is at fault the insurance company pays the biker and ups your rates. I have already been through this with a pedestrian accident. I have a police report that says I am not at fault, so I am punished. The same applies to a bike accident as well. The insurance company just pays off so they don’t have to go to court. To do plates and insurance it would have to be state, no way to do just one city. And make it a fair playing field. I am not against bikers as I am one myself with my wife no longer ride in Somerville as it is too dangerous as the roads are not built for it. I am against spending money for a bike track witch really won’t fit there anyway and most bike accidents are at intersections anyway. I oppose the stupid lines in the street and bike sharing signs. Wasted money, $35000 to paint them this year. I don’t need those to know enough to be courteous to them and not run them down. Some bikers do annoy me but no more than some drivers. That’s just part of the no common sense and no courtesy crowd. This country is going through a rough time and I expect it will be worse the next four years from all I can see and we need to stop needless spending this city is consumed with. It’s a shame many years ago when they built all these houses no one thought we would need the space for bikes to be alongside the automobiles. Beacon street will be fine with repaving. It’s just not worth the money to do the bike track. And I am not antibiking in case I come accross that way..

  18. MarketMan says:

    j.connelly: I’m glad Somerville isn’t getting a Casino. Also, I see lots of businesses continuing to set up in urban places where cars are a pain. So I don’t agree with your logic wrt “eliminating strets and narrowing Broadway”. We do need more parking infrastructure though.

  19. Charlie says:

    The author makes lots of good points. This doesn’t need to be a divisive issue of old Somerville vs new. It also sheds light to how poor our transit system is, even for being better than in most US cities.

    I’d like to clarify one point, that the 111 spaces are being eliminated for the cycle tracks. That’s not entirely accurate. Approximately 60 of those spaces will be eliminated even if no cycle tracks are built. 40 or so of those spaces are being eliminated to create a sidewalk in front of the Academy of Arts and Sciences where there isn’t one. Another 20 or so will be eliminated because they are technically “illegal” (too close to intersections or crosswalks). These are approximate numbers, but you get the idea.

    What is discouraging most to me is what the comments above have devolved into (as they do so much of the time). This is not about people who ride bikes trying to screw the car drivers. It’s about finding the optimal use of limited street space. On-street parking IS important, especially for people who have no choice but to drive and don’t have off-street parking available. And businesses without off-street parking need high-turnover on-street parking for the segment of their customers who drive there. The big question is how much parking Beacon St actually needs to serve those two important needs. If we look at the data and determine that we can make enough parking available for those needs on just one side of the street, it means we have the opportunity to make bicycling on the busiest street for bicycling in the whole City even safer and more appealing. We make it easier for bicyclists, who no longer feel squeezed between parked cars and moving cars, and we make it easier for drivers, who now have a little more breathing room from all the bicyclists. It’s potentially a win-win for everyone.

    It’s not about bicyclists being “free riders” either. While motorists do pay excise taxes and gas taxes that bicyclists do not, we all pay property taxes (either directly or indirectly). And most local roads are funded through the City’s general funds, of which their primary source of revenue is property taxes. Bicycles (and the feet of walkers) do far less damage to the road than cars, that are many tons heavier. It’s only fair that car drivers pay significantly more to maintain those roads.

    It’s also not about new Somervillians being transient and moving away or trying to be hip. I’m 31 and purchased a condo in Somerville back in 2007. I am very invested in my community and I would love to stay as long as possible and raise a family here. New Somervillians don’t want to make live hard on those who came before us. In many ways we owe many thanks to them for creating a community that has become such an appealing place to be! What new Somervillians do want is a safe community with a variety of safe and accessible ways to get around. One of the best things about Somerville is that you CAN live here without owning a car. There are only a handful of cities in MA where you can realistically do that. Cars are not evil and many people do need them to get where they are going. But as fewer and fewer depend on them, we have an opportunity to strengthen the alternatives even more. Finding the right balance is always a back and forth. I have no doubt that we can find a solution that makes all Somervillians happy, old and new.

  20. Brian says:

    The transience of the students isn’t the only thing that was wrong with the parking study. One big one was that it was done the morning after one scheduled street sweeping and the night before another scheduled street sweeping, meaning people already had to move their cars away from one side of the road or the other to adhere to the law. Another was the aforementioned series of parking meters down near Washington Street. Residents can’t park there unless they’re going to go outside with quarters every two hours, every day of their lives. Still another was any discussion of what would happen on street-sweeping nights if the cycle track is installed. If one side is a cycle track and the other side has to be cleared once a week for street sweeping, that means residents cannot park anywhere on Beacon Street one night every week. How will they be accommodated?

  21. Somervillian says:

    Questions:

    Should pedestrians be charged for the use of public sidewalks?

    Should we all have to have a license plates on our backs,
    as we walk around the city sidewalks?

    Should an excise tax be charged on all bicycles,
    including the ones ridden by children?

    Comment:

    It will cost more to collect and enforce an excise tax on bicycles, than will be raised by collecting it.

  22. Domenic says:

    The City repeatedly says that it is balancing the interests and needs of a number of constituencies in the design of this project. By constituencies they mean cars, cyclists, residents, businesses and pedestrians. I have asked the Planning Dept., in writing, twice to tell me what weight is given to the interests and needs of each constituency in the design process, or are all weighted equally? I have yet to receive an answer.

    And I doubt I will since the city is clearly discounting the interests and needs of the people who spend seven days a week living and working in Somerville, investing life savings in small businesses, and paying real estate and excise taxes to Somerville in favor of people who spend 10 minutes a day riding through Somerville on their bikes. That’s really what this all boils down to. And to insult us by ginning up a bunch of massaged data as the rationale for doing this to the neighborhood is disgraceful. (It kind of feels like the lead-up to the Iraq war: lots of skewed data, cherry picked information, smoke and mirrors, with a very suspect political motivation.)

    Enough. The City has been presented with a petition signed by 780 residents, business owners, and business patrons opposing the elimination of parking, and the City heard a loud chorus of opposition from the Beacon Street neighborhood at a design review meeting on Nov. 13th. How high does the decibel level have to get to make the City of Somerville listen to its own citizens?

    Redesign the project. Make it safe for cycles and keep the parking. If the Planning Depart and its consultants can’t do that, get someone who can. This divisive, ham-fisted, all-or-nothing plan needs to be scrapped.

    Had the Planning Dept. had the integrity to involve the residents and businesses of the Beacon Street neighborhood in the design of this project early on rather than trying to slip it by before anyone noticed, we might find ourselves in a position where we now had a plan that more people felt addressed their interests. Instead the City gave conspicuously ineffective notice to the neighborhood – though not the cycling community – and only now is being forced to hear the opinions in opposition of its own citizens. Whether they respond to the voices of those people who pay taxes AND VOTE in Somerville remains to be seen.

  23. Domenic says:

    Brian: you’re dead right about the study. It’s not flawed, it’s invalid. The study was designed, as minimally as it was, to come out with numbers that supported the City’s favored plan.

    Same with the safety issue. City says Beacon Street is very dangerous and this plan is necessary to address the safety issue. Yet Somerville Police reports indicate that over 60% of the cycle accidents on Beacon Street happen at intersections. Of those that don’t happen at intersections, they happen closer to Inman Square. So why are we building two 7′ cycle tracks at the opposite end of Beacon street which has relatively few bike accidents? In the process hurting small businesses and residents, especially the elderly and the disabled who will have to cross Beacon Street to get to their homes.

    There is nothing honorable about the way this plan was put together nor about the way the City of Somerville is trying to ramrod it through over the articulated objections of the people most significantly impacted by it, the residents and businesses of Beacon Street. Who does this administration think they are paid to represent if not these folks. Cyclists from Jamaica Plain, Cambridge and Medford?

  24. Harry says:

    Domenic says: “The City repeatedly says that it is balancing the interests and needs of a number of constituencies in the design of this project.”

    Wow, now Domenic you are interested in balancing interests, huh? It is OK to ram down the throat of others your Taliban views on videogame posters, but it does not feel too good when others do it to you… Double standard here, pal…

  25. Harry says:

    Of course, some ahole posts as Harry now. What a clown.

    Domenic, that last post was not by me. I generally ignore this crap (morons posting under my name – it’s happened before), but when the fool stoops to insulting people then I will step back in to correct things and explain I did not post anything about the taliban. Any og those posts it’s some kid in his mommy’s basement pretending to be me. Sad life he/she must have.

  26. Barry the Pig says:

    Harry, in popular terminology, yours is a clear case of multiple personality disorder, I’m afraid! Leave Domenic alone, please.

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