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Review of comments on Fresh Pond area project

John S. Allen

The Fresh Pond area project was first conceived in the mid-1990s. Request for Proposal forms for the project were reviewed by the Cambridge Bicycle committee in 1995. I responded to those documents with a memorandum to the committee:

Comments by John Allen on Request for a Proposal for the Fresh Pond area, October 1, 1995

In 1996, I sent an e-mail message about the project to members of the committee

John Allen's e-mail message of August 30, 1996

In the project as finally constructed, there are a few significant developments not anticipated in these comments, namely:

  1. The issue of pedestrian access in the area was resolved with the construction of crosswalks, including one at Vassal Lane and three on Concord Avenue -- the crosswalk between the Concord Avenue rotaries being halfway between them rather than adjacent ot the larger rotary;

  2. The roadway of Concord Avenue and the rotaries was narrowed;

  3. A bicycle sidepath was constructed along the north side of Concord Avenue;

  4. The right of way for the path in Fresh Pond Park was established as separate from the railroad right of way, which is still in use in 2002 by one customer in Watertown.

A lively e-mail discussion of the project occurred on the Massbike e-mail list as the project neared completion. You may read the messages in the Massbike archive. In the May, 2002 archive, look at the message threads (in the following, chronological rather than alphabetical order). The links below point to the first message in each thread. The first message, from Michael Halle, announces the opening ceremony for the project:

Bike Week Rides: Cambridge Ride to Fresh Pond May 18th

Slowing traffic with reduced lane width

Tom Revay and I passed out leaflets at the opening ceremony. Revay has described that action and posted a copy of the leaflet on his Web site: Tom Revay's posting.

Additional e-mail threads on the Massbike list discusssed this action and followed up with trying out riding on the roadway:

Fresh Pond Rotary Sidepath action

Fresh Pond Rotary Road 'Action'

Main points of the e-mail discussion: most messages were highly critical of the sidepath; opinions of the paths in the Park ranged from critical to warm. Michael Halle, chair of the Cambridge Bicycle Committee, explained the evolution of the project, indicating that the City of Cambridge had had to fight even to get crosswalks and any kind of biycle route; the MDC had insisted on the narrowed roadways and that bicyclists would not be accommodated on the roadway. One correction to be noted: Halle indicates that I did not comment on the project in its early stages. This is inaccurate, as the first documents linked in this page show.

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