Benches for a Walkable City

Committee: Community Resources

Cost: $25,000

Location: North Mass. Ave. and Broadway

Short Description: Install 12 benches along key corridors in Cambridge so that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy benches for resting, talking, tinkering with electronic devices, people watching, and being outdoors.

Long Description: There is strong evidence that benches are needed, especially along Mass. Ave. in North Cambridge. While there are some bus shelters along the way, the seating in these shelters is minimal, allowing two people at most to sit or one person with their bundles. This stretch of Mass. Ave. is a walking route for seniors on their way to the North Cambridge Senior Center or for anyone wanting to shop at Porter Square Shopping Center. The south side of Broadway has almost no benches at all from Quincy Street to Portland Street except in the parks. The need for street benches was also raised in a previous PB cycle. The benches the City usually installs (such as at the Main Library) seat four adults easily. The addition of more benches on our streets would promote sociability and encourage walkers.

The measure of the impact of more benches can be estimated by looking at the use of current benches. The installation of 12 (or so) benches in front of the entrance to the Main Library has created a mini-park. Everyone uses these benches: library patrons, people pausing in their exercise routines, parents with baby carriages, high school students, dog walkers, etc. Benches draw people out, and the more people on the street the safer everyone else feels.

Feasibility of this project is high. The Department of Public Works has experience in installing standardized metal benches with backs. They are very low maintenance compared with wooden benches, dry more quickly, and are very comfortable.

Photos/Images:

This is a typical street side bench:

 bench1.png

Below is a conversational arrangement of street side benches:

 bench2_reduced.png

Below are three people sharing a conversation on a public bench. Benches promote community!

 bench3.jpg

Showing 5 reactions

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  • commented 2017-12-08 23:49:07 -0500
    Most of the year, Cambridge is neither too hot nor too cold for sitting on a metal bench. In summer, a metal bench might get too hot only when the sun shines directly on it. Meanwhile, this bench style looks nice, is hard to write or or damage, & drains rainwater nicely. Besides, if your legs are tired, every empty bench looks like an armchair. Just don’t forget to put one at the #83 bus stop at Porter T station.
  • commented 2017-12-08 16:10:42 -0500
    Metal benches are too hot in the summer and too cold in winter.
  • commented 2017-12-03 23:10:26 -0500
    One or two of these benches need to be installed at Porter T station where the 83 bus (Rindge Ave.-Central Sq.) stops inbound en route to Central Sq. Next to Porter station on the Somerville Ave. side, the seating was removed 5-6 years ago and the city’s promise to replace it has not been kept. (Yes, this bus stop is in Cambridge.)
  • commented 2017-11-26 17:25:39 -0500
    The third picture looks like a feasible option. What is the thinking behind using metal?
  • commented 2017-11-26 17:23:58 -0500
    Love the idea for more benches but having metal benches is absurd. They’re too hot in the summer to sit on and too cold in the winter.
    There are plenty of other options to use.

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