Alarmist flyers decrying the elimination of “all parking” on one side of the street have appeared on telephone poles and car windshields along Beacon Street in Somerville–in a clear attempt to raise ire in the neighborhood against the city’s plan for a cycletrack.
The flyer calls residents to arms and to a meeting this Monday, Oct. 29–a meeting that was originally called by the city to talk to businesses about their particular concerns. Following the lead of the publicly posted flyer, the City of Somerville forwarded the invitation on the flyer to the list of people who have expressed interest in the project.
Domenic Ruccio, owner of the Beacon St. Laundromat quickly rescinded the public invite, however, when he learned the city had forwarded it to other interested parties in the neighborhood, including cyclists who attended the city’s public meeting on Oct. 15.
“As the organizer of this meeting it is unclear to me how you came to believe this meeting was open to the general public,” wrote Ruccio in a email to Somerville transportation planner Hayes Morrison. “Unfortunately the Cafe Rustica is quite small and we will give admittance priority to neighborhood residents who have not yet had an opportunity to offer input on this plan. With that caveat, we are happy to welcome anyone interested in attending to this meeting.”
“I am very uncomfortable participating in a meeting that has been advertised in the public but is not open to the public,” replied Morrison, offering to relocate the meeting to a larger space that could accommodate all interested parties. But that solution was not acceptable to Ruccio.
“What constituency do you feel would be disadvantaged by possibly not getting into the meeting room if attendance by concerned Beacon Street residents has filled it?” wrote Ruccio in a further email.
The Boston Cyclists Union is encouraging Somerville residents who feel strongly about creating a safer street for bicyclists and pedestrians to take up Ruccio’s invitation to local residents to attend. Many cyclists in this community, including members of the Somerville Bicycle Committee, are in support of a cycletrack to increase safety. Beacon Street, according to Deputy Chief Paul Upton of Somerville Police Department, is host to more bicycle crashes than any other street in the city of Somerville, and many injuries result.
Beacon Street Neighborhood Meeting
Mon., Oct. 29, 7:30 p.m.
356 Beacon St.
The flyer for this meeting claims that the plan “will genuinely jeopardize the viability of businesses on Beacon Street who rely on street parking to supplement walk-by traffic.” But it neglects to mention the various ways in which the city has proposed to protect parking spaces for residents and businesses alike.
Currently, the street is often used by residents from other parts of Somerville to park and walk down to the Porter Square MBTA Station, to Lesley College, or to work at the Cambridge Health Alliance or retail stores along the strip. To stop this practice, the city has proposed to create a Beacon Street resident sticker and mandate one-hour parking for all other visitors (currently the street is two-hour parking with an exemption for all with a Somerville resident sticker).
As it stands, Beacon Street is “not South Boston,” as one resident put it, and parking can usually be found, although it might involve a bit of a walk. A parking study carried out by the city’s consultants found that the available parking on the northern half of the street is only 50 percent utilized, and the southern half near Inman Square is 63 percent utilized.
The Bike Union, with some help from Livable Streets Alliance and local Somerville residents, is also carrying out it’s own Customer Intercept Survey to determine how customers are getting to local shops, how much they spend, and which shops they spend at. The methodology of the survey is very similar to other studies carried out in San Francisco on Market Street, in Toronto on the Bloor Street Annex, and in Cambridge in Central Square. The early results of this survey will be available at the meeting this Monday, and we are still looking for volunteers to help distribute them! To volunteer, click here.