Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

December 31, 2013

K2C2 Final Reports Released

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square,Kendall Square,planning — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 10:58 am

K2C2 Final Reports Released

K2C2 areaThe final reports for Kendall Square and Central Square are now available for download. Zoning discussions based on the recommendations of the K2 and C2 Advisory Committees, which are encapsulated in these reports, will continue in 2014.

Community Development Department

Kendall Square Central Square Planning Study (K2C2)

Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013

Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013

Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013

Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013

This comprehensive planning effort guided by stakeholder advisory committees, City staff, and a team of multidisciplinary consultants led by Goody Clancy, developed a vision and master plan for Central Square, Kendall Square, and the area South of Main Street (including the Osborn Triangle) connecting the two squares. Both final reports are divided into two parts; in each case you will need to review both parts to read the entire report.

December 23, 2013

Michael Sullivan to challenge Marian Ryan for Middlesex County District Attorney

Filed under: elections — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 12:13 pm

Michael SullivanMichael Sullivan to challenge Marian Ryan for Middlesex County District Attorney

Dec 23, 2013 – Michael Sullivan, current Middlesex County Clerk of Courts and former Cambridge Mayor and City Councillor, will challenge Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan in next year’s Democratic primary. He plans to make a formal announcement on his candidacy early next year. Read about it at here (Lowell Sun).

Michael Sullivan was first elected to the Cambridge City Council in 1993 and served from January 1994 through July 2007. He was elected as Middlesex County Clerk of Courts in November 2006 – succeeding Edward J. Sullivan, his uncle, who had served in this position for 48 years (8 consecutive terms) from 1959 through 2006.

December 18, 2013

Cambridge InsideOut: Episodes 27 and 28

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 27. Updates and last details of the 2012-2013 Cambridge City Council. Broadcast Dec 17, 2013, 5:30pm.

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 28: Reflections on the political careers of Ken Reeves, Henrietta Davis, Marjorie Decker, and Minka vanBeuzekom. Broadcast Dec 17, 2013, 6:00pm.

December 16, 2013

Update on the Copenhagen Wheel

In a post in this blog from 2011, I reported on a product under development at the MIT Senseable Cities Laboratory, the Copenhagen Wheel. It provides an electrical power assist to a bicyclist.

The motor and batteries are contained entirely in the rear wheel. The Wheel can be controlled through a Bluetooth connection from a smartphone on the handlebar, so there is no need for wiring. Various smartphone apps can report on speed, distance, state of battery charge, exposure to air pollution etc.

Copenhagen Wwheel promotional video shows bicyclists riding in the door zone

Clip from Copenhagen Wheel promotional video shows bicyclists riding in the door zone

I had a serious concern  in 2011, that the Wheel was designed to switch from motor mode to generator mode at 12 mph. In other words, if you tried to go faster, you couldn’t: it would feel as if you were pulling a huge trailer. 12 mph is slower than many bicyclists would usually ride and could be hazardous if there is a need to sprint across an intersection before the traffic signal changes, to outrun a chasing dog, etc.

Development of the Wheel has continued, and readers deserve an update. The Wheel is now going into a production, licensed to a company called Superpedestrian. Maximum power is now 250 watts, top speed 15 mph in Europe; power 350 watts, top speed 20 mph in the USA — reflecting legal limits. (15 mph, though, is still much lower than a desirable sprinting speed, and many bicyclists can easily sprint at more than 25 mph.) Pedal power is proportional to torque (whether cadence-sensing, I don’t know — torque sensing alone would favor slow cadence and hard pushing. There is a derailleur option which alters the relationship between pedaling torque and torque at the wheel, so this becomes a more serious issue.) Some technical specs are online on the manufacturer’ site.

Placing the entire power unit in the wheel makes retrofitting to an existing bicycle easy, but my friend Osman Isvan, who studies electrically assisted bicycle technology, questions the Wheel concept, or any electric motor in the wheel. He says that a mid-drive system with a small, high-speed motor powering through a reduction drive to the crankset is better, because then the motor can be lighter and more efficient. In case you would like to get technical, Osman has an article, “Power Optimization for the Propulsion of Lightweight Vehicles,” where he addresses this issue, among others. The Wheel’s motor may in fact use a gear reduction drive, unlike most in-wheel motors, though it almost certainly doesn’t benefit from the ability to maintain nearly constant motor speed with the motor (like the cyclist’s feet) ahead of derailleur gearing or an internal-gear rear hub.

One thing that really caught my eye was the disconnect from safe bicycling practice in the company’s promotional video.

The first photo (above) in this article is from the video and shows bicyclists riding in the door zone of parked cars, at speed. That occurs in the video at 0:45 and 1:45.

At at 0:21 and again at 1:39, the Wheel is demonstrated by a bicyclist riding the wrong way on a one-way street, and where a parked car could pull out, but the next parked vehicle hides the bicyclist from the driver, who is on the curb side.

Bicyclist riding wrong way in copenhagen Wheel promotional video

Bicyclist riding wrong way in Copenhagen Wheel promotional video

There’s this shot of unsecured baggage including a (virtual?) electric guitar which hangs way out past the end of the handlebar — a large virtual amplifier is on the rear rack.

Unsecured baggage..

Unsecured baggage..

And then there’s this shot of a man illegally carrying a (fortunately virtual) small child on his shoulders, and another child sitting facing backwards sitting crosslegged on some kind of platform. The law more or less everywhere in the USA says that children are to be carried only in seats designed for the purpose. Massachusetts law says that the children must wear helmets. Anyone familiar with Our Fair City will know that this clip, like many in the video, was shot on our own Paul Dudley White Bicycle Path.

Illegal if the kids weren't virtual...

Illegal if the kids weren’t virtual…

This carelessness in promotion sets me to musing about what we have ahead of us as the increased speed potential (even if only 20 mph) of electrically-assisted bicycles collides with the kind of underdesigned bicycle facilities — essentially sidewalks — which Cambridge is building — a trend now spreading to Somerville and Boston. We’re not talking superpedestrians here, we’re talking bionically enhanced — but not skills-enhanced — bicyclists on bikeways which could only be safe at pedestrian speeds.

Allow me to predict that over the next decade, the products of bikeway visionaries and bicycle technology visionaries are going to come together in some rather interesting but also disturbing ways!

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The Final Curtain: Last Meeting of the 2012-13 Term – Dec 16, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 5:30 pm

The Final Curtain: Last Meeting of the 2012-13 Term – Dec 16, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Tonight’s City Council meeting will be the last for City Councillors Ken Reeves, Henrietta Davis, Marjorie Decker, and Minka vanBeuzekom. It should be a time for reflection on their combined 66 years in elected office in the City of Cambridge. It will also be a time to wonder who will take up some of the important roles played by these councillors. I suspect the new guys will manage to carry on some of the passionate advocacy associated with Marjorie Decker. However, the loss of the collective wisdom of Councillors Reeves and Davis will not be so easy to replace – and that goes especially for Councillor Reeves who could always be counted on to put things into perspective.

Ken Reeves
Ken Reeves
Henrietta Davis
Henrietta Davis
Marjorie Decker
Marjorie Decker
Minka vanBeuzekom
Minka vanBeuzekom

Manager’s Agenda #18. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to possible revisions to the Medical Marijuana Zoning Petition text in response to issues and questions raised at the Planning Board and Ordinance Committee hearings.

Unfinished Business #13. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 20, 2013 to discuss a petition by the City Manager to amend the Zoning Ordinances of the City of Cambridge to define and list Registered Marijuana Dispensary, delete Section 11.700 and create a new Section 20.700 entitled Medical Marijuana Overlay Districts. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Dec 16, 2013. Planning Board hearing held Oct 22, 2013. Petition expires Feb 18, 2014.

Manager’s Agenda #19. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to appointments to the Net Zero Task Force which is charged with advancing the goal of setting Cambridge on the trajectory to becoming a "net zero community".

Resolution #3. Appreciation and best wishes to City Councillor Marjorie Decker.   Councillor Cheung

Resolution #17. Expressing appreciation and thanks to Henrietta Davis for her years of dedicated service to the city of Cambridge and extending best wishes in all her future endeavors.   Councillor Cheung

Order #1. That all items pending before the City Council and not acted upon by the end of the 2012-2013 Legislative Session be placed in the files of the City Clerk, without prejudice provided that those proposed ordinances which have been passed to a second reading, advertised and listed on the Calendar under "Unfinished Business" during the 2012-2013 City Council term, along with any other pending matters on the Calendar listed as "Unfinished Business," shall be forwarded to the next City Council and further provided that any items pending in committee may, at the discretion of the committee, be forwarded to the next City Council.   Mayor Davis

Order #3. That the City Clerk is requested to schedule a meeting early in the new year with all nine newly elected City Councillors in order to discuss and review Roberts Rules.   Vice Mayor Simmons

Committee Reports #1-6. Communications were received from Paula Crane, Administrative Assistant, City Clerk’s Office, transmitting six separate report from Councillor Kenneth E. Reeves, Chair of the Public Facilities, Art and Celebrations Committee for public meetings held on Apr 19, 2012 and May 17, 2012 and Oct 25, 2012 and Nov 28, 2012 and Jan 10, 2013 and Oct 17, 2013.

These come on the heels of last week’s reports from the University Relations Committee, also chaired by Councillor Reeves, from Apr 26, 2012 and May 24, 2012 and July 16, 2012 and Mar 20, 2013. Suffice to say that City Council subcommittees should ideally be discussing relevant matters and reporting back to the City Council in a timely fashion. Let’s hope that the new councillors for the 2014-2015 term get the message that turning in reports 20 months late is not the best way to conduct business.

Communications and Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Councillor Minka vanBeuzekom regarding the Ames Street District rezoning.

Communications and Reports from City Officers #3. A communication was received from Councillor Marjorie C. Decker regarding the Final Report of the 21/365 Domestic Violence Campaign.

Perhaps a few more comments will appear after the meeting. – Robert Winters

December 12, 2013

2013 City Council Recount Completed – Same Winners, Similar Margins

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,City Council,elections — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:56 pm

Recount Completed – Same Winners, Similar Margins

Dec 12, 2013 – The 2013 City Council Election Recount is now complete: Recount Results (PDF, 2 pages)

FinalRecount

Note: This chart was modified from an earlier version to reflect a correction in Count 15.

RECOUNT UPDATE – 16th Count Complete: Deciding round up next (Dec 12)

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,elections — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 1:18 pm

RECOUNT UPDATE – 16th Count Complete: Deciding round up next

Day 9 (today) will likely be the last day of the City Council Election Recount. They have no counted out Sam Seidel and Ken Reeves is next. At the end of that rount (Count 17) the winners will be determined (and it’s pretty much certain that they will be the same as the original winners with a margin between Carlone and vanBeuzekom in the 16-22 ballot range, though there are about 17 other ballots in play during the Reeves transfer that could narrow the margin a bit.

Here’s the latest: Results at the end of the 16th Count (PDF)

UPDATE (5:40pm) – The 17th Count has been completed except for the totals and any last verification of ballots. The results will be announced shortly and the remaining winners declared. The winners will be the same as in the original election results. The margin between 9th Place (Carlone) and 10th Place (vanBeuzekom) will also be approximately the same as in the original results – anywhere between 14 and 22 votes (by my estimate). I’ll post all the details as soon as its been made official and I get the remaining numbers. – Robert Winters

December 11, 2013

RECOUNT UPDATE (Dec 11, 3:00pm)

Filed under: 2013 Election,elections — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 3:05 pm

Cambridge City Council Election Recount – 13th Count Complete
Right now the margin between 9th and 10th place in the deciding round projects to about 14 votes, but candidates Seidel and Reeves each have 11 more ballots than they previously did and, when Seidel (16th Count) and Reeves (17th Count) are defeated, vanBeuzekom and Kelley could gain a few to narrow the margin. Though an upset is very unlikely, this ain’t over yet.
Count13

UPDATE – 14th Count Complete (3:24pm)
The projected margin between Carlone and van Beuzekom is now down to 12. Seidel (16th Count) has an additional 10 ballots and Reeves (17th Count) has an additional 11 ballots compared to the original count. When defeated, vanBeuzekom and Kelley could gain a few more ballots than Mazen and Carlone to narrow the margin. Again, this ain’t over.
Count14

The remaining rounds with transferred ballot numbers from the original count look like this (updated Dec 12, 9am):
Count14a-projection
After trimming out some excess caused by earlier rounds, there are really only about 18 ballots in play and the margin between Carlone and vanBeuzekom projects to about 18 in the deciding round. This is starting to look pretty settled now.

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