December 4, 2022

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The Cambridge bike lane battle is heading to court

3 min read

A faction of area small business homeowners and people in Cambridge sued the metropolis Friday, seeking to reel back again an bold bike lane enlargement challenge that they say will remove treasured parking areas and devastate smaller enterprises.

The accommodate, filed by the recently fashioned team Cambridge Streets for All, asks a Middlesex Remarkable Court choose to block the city from new construction under its Cycling Safety Ordinance, which mandates separated bike paths be developed on 25 miles of Cambridge streets by the stop of the 2020s.

“We imagine enhanced bike lane entry to be an outstanding goal, but not when the parking for enterprise consumers and workers, as nicely as for community citizens and sufferers of nearby healthcare providers is becoming absolutely gutted, which will clog facet streets exactly where people today are living,” Lee Jenkins, a plaintiff in the go well with who is the operator of Violette Gluten Cost-free Bakery in Porter Square, stated in a assertion.

The fit also asks the judge to purchase Cambridge to acquire down present bike lanes designed less than the initiative that eliminated parking spaces, these as an original stretch that opened on Massachusetts Avenue in North Cambridge in November.

The ordinance represents a crucial portion of the city’s options to lower carbon emissions to internet-zero by 2050, by making Cambridge less reliant on vehicle website traffic. But weather improve has been handily overshadowed by the vitriolic community spat in between organization owners and bike advocates that has erupted since the initiative was adopted by the City Council in 2019.

A spokesman for the metropolis mentioned in an e-mail that “the Metropolis Solicitor is reviewing the complaint submitted in Middlesex Excellent Court docket and will diligently characterize the City’s interests in this subject.”

In the criticism submitted Friday, the group alleges that small business owners in areas of Cambridge wherever shielded bike lanes have previously been created have noticed “a drastic drop in company volume and attendant income, as a immediate result of a absence of parking and customers remaining unable to patronize the corporations.”

Individuals bicycle lanes have also pressured sellers to park on aspect streets when creating deliveries, producing a significant website traffic conundrum, the criticism alleges. If far more this kind of bicycle lanes are constructed, the match claims, it’ll only get worse.

“In brief, the Biking Security Ordinance has triggered substantial harm to the local community and it gains only 1 team: bicycle riders in the town,” the criticism reads.

But supporters of the bike lanes — a substantial and vocal group in a commuter city like Cambridge — have fiercely defended the project, saying it is a common-sense solution to make streets safer and additional local weather helpful.

From 2000 through 2015, a automobile strike a bike approximately after each individual two days in Cambridge, in accordance to Police Division facts. A couple of of these incidents were being deadly.

Bike lane supporters have also questioned if the organizations truly need the parking areas to get by, pointing to reports in other metropolitan areas with identical tasks that advise minor outcome on spending at nearby firms.

“It’s likely to be challenging and impactful, and we should do almost everything we can to mitigate the affect on businesses,” Joe Barr, the city’s director of targeted visitors, parking, and transportation instructed the Globe previous month. “But irrespective of whether it is since of metropolis coverage, due to the fact of weather improve, or simply because of the protection of our streets, we have a lawful and ethical vital to make these modifications.”

The group powering the match also alleges the city did not do ample to tell inhabitants of the ordinance and its implications. The town has denied that claim, stating it has worked with business enterprise proprietors on answers that will mitigate consequences on client site visitors.

The lawsuit arrives at a critical juncture for the project, as bicycle lanes are set to go up in Porter Sq. by the conclude of the summer season. That neighborhood has been at the centre of the discussion.

A hearing on the case is slated for June 17.


Andrew Brinker can be arrived at at [email protected] Abide by him on Twitter at @andrewnbrinker.

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