CAMBRIDGE – The city of Cambridge is being sued to prevent the installation of more bike lanes. Harold Gilmer owns Elite Barber Shop on Mass. Ave and has been cutting hair in the neighborhood for 21 years. “It’s affected everybody around here, the business is not the same,” Gilmer said.
He says the city’s current cycling safety ordinance, which calls for bike lanes all along Mass. Ave, is hurting local business owners.
“We’ve been having parking up and down Mass. Ave for this whole time and to pay your bills you need to have people be able to pull over and visit the shops,” Gilmer said.
Other owners agree, the new lack of parking means less customers through their doors.
“We couldn’t properly build a customer base, folks weren’t walking in so we had to adjust to survive we had to do more takeout and delivery,” said Som Pogosov of Phoenix Kitchen.
Proponents of the bike lanes point out the city will be removing the median between Roseland and Beech Street by the end of July to create more parking spots in the Porter Square area.
Chris Cassa, a volunteer with Cambridge Bicycle Safety, adds nearly two-thirds of the Cambridge community rides bikes and safety remains the biggest concern.
“We care deeply about making sure that there’s sufficient parking but also want to make sure that people recognize that safer streets that help people move more efficiently through the streets are going to help support small businesses,” Cassa said.
“Especially on Mass. Ave from 2015 to 2021 six people have died on our streets who are biking and 250 people who were biking have been involved in a crash that was with a motor vehicle that resulted in an injury or more than $1,000 damage.”
“If we go out of business we’ll have a lot of great bike lanes, but it will be a shallow area,” Sam Pogosov said.