Cambridge will implement a pilot program allowing residents to walk, bike, and drive in both directions on select roadways, the City announced Thursday.
The Shared Street pilot, which will begin mid-June, is designed to support physical distancing as the city begins to ease coronavirus closures. Roadways designated as “shared streets” will allow pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers to share street space while remaining at least six feet apart. Drivers are expected to travel at low speeds and yield to pedestrians and cyclists.
Joseph E. Barr — Cambridge Director of Traffic, Parking, and Transportation — said city leadership is working to find transportation solutions that prioritize public health while responding to residents’ wishes.
“The City of Cambridge leadership is carefully considering how transportation patterns have changed and how they need to change, not just as we recover from this crisis, but to support a sustainable future,” his statement reads.
“We are striking a balance between being responsive to the community’s desires and concerns while balancing the vital need to prioritize public health,” it continues.
The initial shared street network will consist of three “key connector streets” — Garden Street, Field Street, and Bay State Road corridor from Concord Avenue to New Street; Harvard Street from Quincy Street to Portland Street; and Magazine Street from Green Street to Memorial Drive — according to the city’s announcement.
“Shared Street,” “Local Access Only,” and advisory speed limit signs will be posted at cross streets throughout the shared street network. Shared street designations will be implemented 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the pilot period.
Since Massachusetts Governor Charlie D. Baker ’79 issued a stay at home order in late March to stop the spread of COVID-19, Cambridge residents and city councilors have asked the City Manager’s office to close streets in order to create more space for social distancing.
During the Cambridge City Council’s April 13 meeting, Cambridge resident Yonah Freemark asked city councilors to identify streets that could be closed to car traffic.
“Cambridge is desperately in need of more space for its pedestrians and bicyclists,” Freemark said. “The idea that allowing pedestrians to walk in the street will cause more crowds is specious. Why is it acceptable to allow drivers to continue using the streets as if nothing has changed?”
Cambridge closed Memorial Drive to car traffic last Sunday, and will complete its second pilot closure on May 31.
The city plans to inform residents of the new program via phone calls, emails, social media, the city’s COVID-19 website, neighborhood distributions, and street signs.
—Staff Writer Maria G. Gonzalez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mariaagrace1.