The following letter was originally published as an Op-Ed in The Boston Globe on May 24th, 2015.
Robert Weisman raises many critical issues about transportation in Kendall Square, particularly the need to prevent congestion from damaging this area’s role in driving innovation and economic growth (“As tech hub grows, so do the traffic jams,” A1, May 19). The City of Cambridge has been working diligently over the past two decades to implement policies and programs that enable this growth, while managing impacts and recognizing that we cannot build our way out of congestion.
Working with public and private partners, we have invested in bicycle facilities like Hubway, supported transit improvements like the EZRide bus, and advocated for regional investments in sustainable transportation. Eric Moskowitz’s July 2012 article detailed how successful promotion of sustainable transportation through the Parking and Transportation Demand Management Ordinance and other tools has led to a commuting modal share of 53% for walking, cycling, and transit.
We have modified zoning to encourage development of a true mixed-use neighborhood and made strategic infrastructure investments to enhance mobility. While construction on the Longfellow Bridge and Main Street have short-term impacts, they are critical to this area’s future. As with all of Cambridge, Kendall Square is a work in progress, and we remain committed to working collaboratively to enable the continued success of this global center for innovation.
Joseph E. Barr
Director of Traffic, Parking and Transportation
The following is an excerpt from an article originally published by Chelsea Harvey in The Washington Post on May 20th, 2015.
It’s report card season — and not just for grade-school students. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) published the 2015 edition of its biennial City Energy Efficiency Scorecard today, ranking U.S. cities based on their local energy policies and initiatives. And for the second time in a row, Boston is top of the class.
It was a close competition, with each of the top five cities scoring within a 10-point range. Boston took first place with a total of 82 and was the only city to get more than 80 percent of the possible points. How did the city manage to do so well?
The scorecard’s authors attribute Boston’s success to a number of strong city-wide energy policies and local initiatives, which helped it score well broadly across the board. But the city really took the cake as a top scorer in the buildings policies category and the energy and water utility policies category, which assesses energy efficiency targets, spending on electric and natural gas efficiency and water efficiency efforts.
Boston’s Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance requires large and medium-sized buildings to report their energy and water use, as well as complete an energy assessment every five years. And, the report states, buildings are required to improve their efficiency if they’re not ENERGY STAR certified or showing improvements. And the city’s Renew Boston initiative earned it points in the utility policies category. Introduced in 2009, the program aims to reduce electricity demand by 200 megawatts by 2017. Efforts to meet this goal included the launch of Renew Boston Solar, a program that encourages the widespread adoption of solar technology throughout the city. And Renew Boston also targets homeowners and small business owners by offering free energy assessments and providing incentives to adopt efficiency improvements, such as insulation.
Boston also has a climate action plan, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Part of this plan involves reducing vehicles miles traveled (VMT) by 7.5 percent by 2020. Hubway, the city’s bike-sharing system, is one way the city government is tackling that goal, helping the city earn a relatively high score for transportation policy.
And Boston was also among the top scorers in the community initiatives category, thanks to its Greenovate Boston campaign. This program aims to help the city meet its emissions reduction goals by engaging citizens in the city’s climate and sustainability initiatives. Engagement opportunities include community summits, personal carbon challenges, bike weeks and guidelines to help citizens improve energy efficiency in their own homes. “Community outreach is really the key element,” said Austin Blackmon, Boston’s chief of environment, energy and open space, during the Wednesday press conference. “One thing that we’re really focusing on is making sure that when we are communicating with our residents and businesses, we’re making sure we’re reaching out to those people who haven’t heard the message already.”
You may not have even noticed. It was only for a few hours, and most riders were able to continue using Hubway as usual, but the big news is we upgraded Hubway’s back-end software today!
While the majority of changes will not be visible to Hubway riders, the updates to the system software will provide members with additional trip history details and an easier-to-read account redesign, and will provide automated tools for communicating mechanical issues with Hubway technicians (for example, when a rider marks a bike for repair)! The updates will also greatly improve the tools used by the company that operates the system, Motivate International Inc, and will allow for testing new equipment for Hubway expansion.
This was a major system upgrade for Hubway. While every effort was made to minimize the disruption it may have caused, we do apologize to any riders who were inconvenienced. We thank you for your patience as this work to improve Hubway for all riders was going on.
Station Move Alert: On Friday, May 22nd, the Harvard University River Houses / Plympton Street Hubway station will be moved approximately 1-2 blocks northeast from its current location along Memorial Drive in Cambridge to its new seasonal location on Grant Street, between DeWolfe & Banks Streets. This will be an on-street (not sidewalk) location.
Station Move Alert: On Friday, May 22nd, the Kendall T at Main Street Hubway station, located in Kendall Square, Cambridge, will be relocated to the Ames Street sidewalk at the southwest corner of Ames & Main Street. This station is scheduled to remain in the new location throughout the spring & summer.