New Pearl Street design under attack in Cambridge

Pearl Street Complete Streets Design

Cambridge’s innovative plan will include a bike lane during the day and parking during the night, but only if you defend it. Forward this email to your friends in Cambridge NOW.

Write a letter to the city today!

By Joe Poirier

As of the beginning of last month, it looked as though a new design being put together for Cambridge’s Pearl Street would include a buffered bike lane during the day, and parking for residents at night. This ‘Complete Streets’ Option was a compromise meant to please as many people as possible after opposition to a bolder plan for a cycletrack was heard.

But now the city’s plans for encouraging cycling on Pearl Street, a major Cambridge-Boston connection, are being threatened by a small group of residents who are going door to door organizing opposition. Their work has apparently gotten to Cambridge City Councillor Tim Toomey, who independently filed a Council Order recommending the City Manager kill the Complete Streets plan for Pearl Street and reconstruct the road without improving it for people who bike. Toomey has supported many bike projects in Cambridge, including the Grand Junction Bike Path, so the move has surprised many.

Cambridge’s Community Development Department (CDD) and Department of Public Works (DPW) created the Complete Streets option after many cyclists reported feeling uncomfortable on the street, which is extremely narrow and also hosts a bus route. The plan allows safer and more efficient passage for MBTA buses, safer and more accessible cycling, and better snowplow and emergency vehicle service to the street. Cambridge’s CDD has also planned for accessible, separated bicycle facilities on Pearl Street as a part of the city’s official Bicycle Network Plan.

According to a city-funded parking study, there is an excess of available parking spaces during the day. An extensive 2014 review showed that in the afternoon, 47 percent of spaces on Pearl Street were completely unoccupied, and 31 to 42 percent of side street spaces were unused. The morning saw 42 percent of parking on Pearl Street unused, and in the evening, one in four of all spaces on Pearl Street were vacant.

As Pearl Street is a very important connection for cyclists who live in Cambridge and want to access the BU Bridge over the Charles River and other destinations in Cambridgeport, the Boston Cyclists Union is working with local residents to encourage as many Cambridge residents as possible to write letters to their elected officals as soon as possible. The fate of Pearl Street hangs in the balance!

Write an e-mail right now and forward this to as many of your friends in Cambridge as you can!

Your email can be as short or as long as you like, just make sure to say you support the Complete Streets Plan for Pearl Street, tell them why and include your name and Cambridge address.

City Council:
City Manager Richard Rossi:


  1. Christine Howard on January 9, 2015 at 5:27 am

    To whom it may concern:

    I’m writing in support of the Complete Streets Plan for Pearl Street in Cambridge. It is extremely important that bikers are safe on the roadways. Also, there are already too many cars on the roads, and it is important environmentally, congestion-wise, and quality of life-wise to support people who choose to commute by bicycle. Please do NOT kill the Complete Streets plan.

    Christine Howard
    2 Peabody Terrace #505
    Cambridge, MA 02138

  2. Schuyler Engel on January 9, 2015 at 12:43 pm


  3. Joseph Poirier on January 9, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Would also love to see better bus stops that encourage residents and visitors to use public transit. Encouraging and inviting places to wait for the bus would go a long way. More street trees would also be a huge plus. Can’t wait to see a better street!

  4. Pat Hollenbeck on January 10, 2015 at 8:49 am

    Resident of mid cambridge.

    Pearl St. is a major bike route. Public safety comes first.
    Please make Pearl St. bike-friendly

  5. Isaac Laurent on January 10, 2015 at 9:20 am

    I support the The COMPLETE Streets plan for Pearl Street. Every Cyclists should have their own lane.

  6. Clarisse Glen on January 29, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Safety for cyclists is paramount. Cycling is healthy, green and promotes wellness and outdoor interaction. Think about how much better Cambridge would be if more people were outside, walking and cycling, just like in Europe. To the narrow-minded people who care only for their silly parking spots, open your eyes. Cyclists deserve their own bike lanes, away from buses and cars. In fact, a painted bike lane isn’t even enough. It should be completely separated from all traffic by a curb. Do you part for the environment, for the city and for other humans.

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