MA Vision Zero Coalition support for the Inman Square project

MA Vision Zero Coalition support for the Inman Square project

May 21, 2018

To the Cambridge City Council,

We are writing to you today since we understand you will be conducting a hearing tonight that involves discussion on the removal of 4 or 5 trees from Inman Square, to facilitate the Inman Square road design for transportation safety.

The goals of the Inman Square redesign are to make the square, specifically the large intersection of Hampshire and Cambridge Streets, safer for people biking and walking — the most vulnerable road users. This is in line with the Cambridge Vision Zero policy, and is particularly timely as a  response to the dangers highlighted by the fatal crash that took the life of Amanda Phillips in June of 2016, while she was riding her bike away from Inman Square.

The Vision Zero Coalition is working to make Massachusetts safer for all road users and we believe that the proposed changes to Inman Square will make that complicated and busy intersection much safer for people walking and biking.  In addition, the plan responds to the requests of local residents and business owners to create a more attractive and connected Vellucci Plaza to better serve businesses. We believe that the plan now makes the most of the opportunity for a large re-construction project, to fix the traffic and safety operations of Inman Square, and provide an opportunity to revitalize struggling businesses in the Square.

We sincerely hope that the objections to the project stemming from the loss of 4-5 trees (which will be transplanted and/or replaced) will not delay these important safety improvements any longer.

Trees are an extremely important part of the  urban fabric and contribute to pedestrian comfort and safety, and our organizations advocate for trees as an important element of streetscape design. Trees are also important contributors to environmental benefits. As transportation is the number one contributor to greenhouse gases in Massachusetts, it is imperative that we provide people with transportation options that get them out of single occupancy vehicles. The amount of carbon that a tree can sequester is moot if we can get hundreds, even thousands, more people out of cars and onto their feet, transit and bicycles. While  Cambridge boasts one of

the highest percentages of people who travel by walking, transit and biking, that percentage could be much higher if the City is safer and more attractive for people using those modes.

While we regret the loss of four to five trees, making progress on safety,  mode shift, and the continued vitality of Inman Square outweighs that loss and we believe the project should move forward as soon as possible.  We are pleased that the designers and City staff have found a way to plant even more trees than are being removed.

We look forward to seeing the re-construction of Inman Square get underway, and to the safer, more convenient and more vibrant Square that will result.

Best regards,

Wendy Landman, WalkBoston

Stacy Thompson, LivableStreets Alliance

Becca Wolfson, Boston Cyclists Union

Members and leaders of the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition

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