Glocal Implementation

Transportation Projects Installed around City


Sakib Asraf

Live Bus was able to install twelve out of thirteen of their real time bus trackers.

Isabelle Agee-Jacobson, Managing Editor

This past summer, many of the students who participated in the Glocal Challenge last year began implementing the projects they designed to improve transportation in Cambridge as part of an internship with the Cambridge Development Department (CDD).

Five teams participated in the internship: “Live Bus,” who aimed to set up real time bus trackers in businesses near bus stops; “Transportation Transformers,” who wanted to subsidize Blue Bike passes for high school students; “Connect Cambridge,” who aimed to create a designated bus lane from the Porter Square T Station to the Harvard Square T Station; “Two Lanes,” whose idea was to create a bike lane on Broadway; and “CamTran,” who wanted to create an app to direct bikers on the safest and fastest routes for biking.

Each of the teams faced unique challenges as they moved from planning and gathering support for their projects to actually implementing them.

“All the students were successful by the end, but they had to change their ideas,” said Jennifer Lawrence, a sustainability planner for the Cambridge Development Department and the manager of the Glocal Challenge for the city.

For Transportation Transformers, finding high school students to register proved difficult. “It was such a niche group of people and people were so spread out—people were on vacation, they’re doing their Mayor’s [Program] jobs—so it was hard to pinpoint where they would be,” said Simon Simpson ’20, a member of the team.

The team managed to register six students for the discounted Blue Bike passes over the summer, and hope to reach their initial goal of sixty students now that school is back in session.

Both Connect Cambridge and Two Lanes had to change course when they realized that putting bike and bus lanes on some streets just won’t work.

Adapting to this unforeseen challenge, both teams will instead pilot smaller versions of their original project designs on PARKing day on September 21st. Connect Cambridge’s designated bus lane for the 77 and 96 buses will run from the Rindge Avenue stop to the next stop at Walden Street between 7 AM and 9 AM, as well as between 3 PM and 7 PM.

Two Lanes will run a temporary bike lane between Trowbridge and Ellery streets to raise awareness about biking and bike safety on PARKing day. They have also pitched a new idea to the city—putting additional “wayfinding signage” on Broadway to direct bikers to Cambridge Street and Inman Street, where there are bike lanes—to implement instead of a permanent bike lane on Broadway.

“At first, I was not super keen on [the project] changing,” Emma Dhanda ’20, a member of Connect Cambridge, said. “Then, I realized it’s not always going to be the first idea that you have, and you’re going to have to go through changes to make it the best that it can be.”

Live Bus, the real time bus tracker team, was able to install twelve out of thirteen of their tablets into businesses, but they too faced difficulties, especially around attaching the tablets to the windows.

The final team, CamTran, did not implement their project over the summer but conducted research and pitched their idea to Google to build.

Dhanda, who is one of the students who will continue to work on implementing her project this year, noted that “it was crazy” that her team was able to put their project into practice. “When we all got together and thought up this project and presented it, we didn’t really feel that it was going to be something,” she said. “We knew that if we won the seed money it would become something but I don’t think it really set in until the actual program.”

This piece also appears in our September 2018 print edition.