Dear members and friends,
It is with heavy heart that I write to you today. Most of you know by now that a young woman riding a bike, 27 year old Amanda Phillips of Cambridge, was hit and killed in Inman Square last week. While some details are not fully clear yet, it is widely believed that she was either doored or swerved to avoid a door opening in her path, and was thrown into the path of a landscape truck. We have been devastated by this loss, alongside all of you.
We want to welcome you to a vigil to honor the life of Amanda Phillips, mourn her loss, and find a way forward together. It will be tonight at 7pm, in Inman Square at the site of the crash. It is open to all, and we hope you will join us, members of the bike community, and friends of Amanda.
We are full of grief, and we are also angry. We’re angry that we know where the dangerous intersections and corridors are, and we have to battle against the interests of on-street parking and against those who value motorist convenience over bicyclist mortality, to earn the space on the road for infrastructure that will protect us, not put us in the path of car doors or aggressive vehicles. We’re angry because this was preventable.
In times like this, we understand that people need an outlet to “channel their righteous anger,” as put by our very own bicycling Revered Laura Everett, who will be leading the vigil this evening.
As one outlet, we urged people to turn out to the Cambridge City Council meeting Monday night, to support the policy order put forward by Councilor Jan Devereux, and also demand even more. Many of you spoke about crashes you’ve been in, safety you cannot find while biking on the streets, haunting memories of being there when Amanda was struck and killed in Inman, using your voices to tell the city leadership where they’ve failed us, and that they need to stop. I spoke out and challenged them to show us political courage and only support road design and reconstruction that protects people, not car parking, when there should be more than enough space for all of us to move freely:
“…Just as we criticize thoughts and prayers after instances of gun violence, thoughts, prayers and condolences do not make us safer biking on our city streets. Infrastructure does. I ask you this: has anyone ever died because they couldn’t find a place to park or had to walk an extra 5 or 10 minutes from their car?”
Many of you have been writing letters to your elected and appointed leaders in Cambridge and Boston, and we encourage more of you to do so. According to the vote on the policy order and Council discussion, Cambridge leadership is promising interim improvements in Inman in the immediate future, and to significantly fast-track the long-term reconstruction. We all must hold them accountable. The City of Boston has pledged some protected infrastructure on Mass Ave. We must hold Mayor Walsh accountable, and ask him when we’re going to see infrastructure to protect people biking in Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan, and when we’re going to see the City of Boston stop cowing to the minority over the loss of parking, and show us safer infrastructure for biking. In addition to borrowing from the examples linked above, you can personalize and send the letter, below.
We urge you to keep connecting with one another, and to look for the outlet that will serve you and your community. We are determined to keep elevating the conversation and demanding more, changing the status quo along with you.
For sending to Boston:
Mayor Walsh, email@example.com
Chief of Streets Chris Osgood, firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner of Transportation Gina Fiandaca, gina.fiandaca@
Boston City Councilors, City.Council@cityofboston.gov
For sending to Cambridge:
Mayor Simmons, email@example.com
Cambridge City Councilors, firstname.lastname@example.org (this email forwards to ALL Cambridge City Councilors)
Subject: Improving safety for people biking and walking
Dear (Mayor Walsh, Chief Osgood, Commissioner Fiandaca and City Councilors) or (Mayor Simmons and City Councilors)
I am writing to you today to express my concern about the slow pace of change on our roadways for improving safety for people walking and biking. While the City has officially adopted Vision Zero, the dangerous conditions that have existed on our streets for years still remain. Meanwhile, people walking and biking are being hit and killed every day.
While I greatly appreciate your public commitment to addressing these issues, I urge you to move more quickly to fix our streets. For those of us who walk and bike everyday, this can literally be a matter of life or death.
I understand that taking bold, swift action can be difficult, and often requires making changes, including parking removal, that are not popular with everyone. However, safety on our streets is not a popularity contest. The demand for convenient, on-street parking cannot trump the lives of our residents.
We already know what streets and intersections are dangerous. We already know how to fix them. We don’t need more studies, or years of public meetings. We need action, and we need it now. Short-term changes can be made immediately with paint and bollards. All we need in order to make it happen, is for you to have the courage to do it. Please, for the sake of all of us, find the courage to do what is necessary to save lives.