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City Hall Drops the Ball–Yet Again!

by in Bicycles, Davis Square, Neighborhoods and Squares, Pedestrians, Public Health & Safety, Seniors, Union Square
Posted on December 5, 2012 at 8:02 pm
Last Modified on December 5, 2012 at 9:15 pm

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No, there hasn’t been a premature dropping of a local New Years Eve time-ball–City Hall has dropped the ball on long-promised bike enforcement and a companion public safety campaign—yet again…

At an Aldermanic Public Health & Public Safety Committee meeting in October, 2011, the Administration was queried for its failure to initiate both bike enforcement and a public safety campaign. Local cyclists had long indulged in reckless endangerment of pedestrians—especially seniors and persons with disabilities—in violation of public safety laws, especially with regard to the epidemic of sidewalk cycling in the central business districts—the city squares.

City Hall had earlier promised a “far-reaching campaign” to inform citizens, cyclists and pedestrians of cycling rights and responsibilities, to begin in the spring of 2011.

After initial meetings in early 2011, a group chaired by City Hall’s Jaclyn Rossetti, and including the Bike Committee, Groundwork Somerville, CYCLE Kids, Tufts and the Somerville Public Schools, claimed to create a poster campaign. But no further efforts ensued during the summer, or that fall, hence the summons from the Public Health & Public Safety Committee, in response to constituent complaints.

Ms. Rossetti and her group then created colorful posters highlighting the need for bike/pedestrian safety, and the public safety campaign kicked off in April, 2012, with appropriate enforcement by Somerville Police. The campaign garnered local headlines and lots of publicity.

Come summer, the much-ballyhooed campaign evaporated, along with enforcement. Then the Hubway Bike Stations made their debut in the city squares—and still no campaign. All summer long and into the fall, sidewalk cyclists continued in droves to violate the local ordinance prohibiting sidewalk cycling, even as new bike lanes appeared in Union Square and other squares. (It’s hard to fault the Police on enforcement, when City Hall has been so loathe to pursue it).

So finally, yet again, the Public Health & Public Safety Committee, at a November 19th meeting, found itself querying both City Hall and Police Chief Pasquarello about bike enforcement and the flagging public safety campaign. Pedestrian advocate Greg Hill presented video footage of sidewalk cyclists in Union and Davis Squares in 2012, leaving no doubt that such violations were ongoing. Chairman White then asked the City Hall representative about reviving the public safety campaign.

Will this farce become an annual Somerville rite? When you’re dealing with the laughable veracity of City Hall, it could very well become one. So public safety takes a holiday, and City Hall will drop the ball once again—just remember to look up—you won’t get alerted…

The video footage of sidewalk cyclists may be viewed via this URL link to the Metacafe video-sharing web site (Double-click on the boxed video frame):

http://www.metacafe.com/channels/SomerPed/

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