This week our community suffered a tragic, loss. 60-year old Joe Lavins of Lexington was fatally killed in a collision with a truck, approaching the intersection of Mass Ave and Somerville Ave in Cambridge, at morning rush hour on Wednesday, October 5th.
We know that the trauma of traffic violence runs deep, and has long-lasting ripple effects. We are lucky that we have bicycling Reverend Laura Everett to help our community grapple with our emotions and grief. Some neighbors, friends, witnesses and passersby gathered after the crash on Wednesday to work through the grief together. Laura taught us an important lesson that connecting with one another, and talking about and caring for yourself after seeing violence is important.
One observation we’ve made, that has been reinforced through hearing from you, is that in this time of sadness and anger and grief, we need each other.
For so many, these fatal and serious crashes leave people reevaluating their practice. For some of you, a fatal or serious crash means staying off of your bike for a little while, for some it means getting back on with a vengeance. Whatever you need, that’s what’s right. What we’ve heard and witnessed is the “right” thing for many is connecting. Talking about your fears and anxieties and not holding it in. Asking questions about different, safer routes, and sharing tips with one another. Sitting around kitchen tables and cafes and brainstorming new advocacy campaigns and actions, and cooking up tactical street projects. Writing letters to your city councilors and municipal leaders demanding changes to our streets and safety we’ve been promised and are waiting for.
The good news is, it’s working. We’re not letting our spirits drop, and we’re all stronger together, trying our best to use another senseless tragedy as a catalyst for change. There has been reinvigorated pressure and advocacy efforts for Cambridge City Hall to revisit the plans for Huron Ave and Pearls Streets. Both present opportunities for protected bike facilities that would greatly improve safety for people biking. It is likely the Council will call for a hearing in upcoming weeks to discuss these projects. Tell them they must. Email: CityCouncil@cambridgema.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tell them how critical it is, under the lens of vision zero, that they prioritize plans for Huron Ave and Pearl Street that put people’s safety first.
Write to City Council and tell them you want protected bike lanes on Mass Ave, NOW, and protected bike lanes on Hampshire Street, Cambridge Street, and ALL of the arterials. Ask them if the Policy Order that promised to expedite protected bike lanes on Hampshire and Cambridge Streets, passed unanimously on June 27th, just days after the fatal crash that took the life of Amanda Phillips, was an empty promise? Tell them it is time to show us action. Instead of, or in addition to writing to the City Councilors, you can sign this petition, asking for action now by creating separated bike lanes on all Cambridge arterials, a motion initiated by the city’s fierce new Cambridge Bike Safety group of residents.
In light of this tragedy, we were initially uneasy about promoting our upcoming fall party next week. However, after taking some time to process our feelings and reconcile the fact that despite some hard won victories, there’s still so much work to do, we feel even more dedicated to working to eliminate all traffic fatalities in the Boston area. Moreover, right now mourning and grieving and pushing forward as a group is also of the utmost importance. Our annual parties serve as a place for our members to meet one another, learn about the work ahead, and get more involved in their neighborhoods. We know good things happen when you all come together.
We love all of you, and looking forward to socializing, dancing, mingling and scheming for change with you next week is helping us to keep working in the face of tragedy. We hope you feel the same way, and will join us next Thursday.
Becca and Doug