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Holland Street Safety Proposal Feedback

Or, If I was a transportation planner…

The Traffic Commission,
Justin Schreiber, Transportation Planner, Mobility Department,
Adam Polinski, Senior Transportation Planner, Mobility Department,
Katakana Ballantyne, Mayor,
Judy Pineda Neufeld, Councilor, Ward 7,
Lance Davis, Councilor, Ward 6,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on the New Protected Bike Lanes & Parking Changes on Holland Street presented on September 21, 2022. Also, thank you to everyone in Transportation for the work done so far this summer to make this area safer and more pedestrian friendly.

My name is Eleanor Ramsay-Maldonado and I have owned a home near the corner of Cameron and Holland since 1993. I’m currently car-free by choice and am a frequent pedestrian, user of Mass Transit, and a former/occasional cyclist. My 85 year old disabled mother has a car and placard and lives with us.

After attending the Zoom-only presentation, listening to all of the speakers, and studying the City plans, I am concerned about the significant use-change for this part of Somerville. A recent tragic accident has created a situation where the City is proposing a retrofitted “protected lane” for cyclists running the length of Holland St from Teele Square to Davis Square. Rather than make the streets safer for everyone, this plan reduces shared access for hundreds of residents and has the potential to create a dangerous speed-corridor that would continue to put pedestrians at risk.

Because I feel so strongly about this neighborhood, I have spent some time envisioning a modified proposal that also focuses on traffic calming and pedestrian safety. This feedback and Plans are attached as a PDF.

Rather than banishing parking for residents and visitors and creating a car and cycle commuter corridor, we need to reduce the speed of all vehicles. We also should be honest about E-Bikes, which can reach speeds of 15+ miles per hour and are increasingly being used by bike commuters. Narrow bike lanes put E-Bikes, powered scooters and aggressive riders in the same row as slower riders, Blue Bike riders and children.

I have hoped for traffic calming measures along this stretch of Holland St and Cameron Ave since the day I moved in. The primary cause of the backups, and danger to pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike, is the speed that all vehicles achieve going downhill on Holland from Teele Square. Without a Stop sign, they fly through the intersection, increasing speed towards Davis Square unless traffic slows them down. This also causes Cameron Ave, which has a Stop sign and a bike lane on the uphill length, to become hopelessly backed up, sometimes as far down as the Cambridge line, every single weekday for hours at a stretch.

Alternative Proposal

Slide-Show of my plans, that highlights some of my concerns and proposed modifications.