Data Download with Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone

On May 18, 2017, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

By Joseph A. Curtatone

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries and letters to the Editor of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)

Taking a closer look at this month’s notable city data – and interesting numbers.

11,156: That’s the total number of calls related to traffic and parking topics that 311 has fielded so far this year. Traffic and parking calls continue to outnumber any other call topic (although we have seen a slight reduction in the number of calls compared to last year), and the calls we receive fall into 48 different traffic and parking categories. Of those, one category accounts for more than 25 percent of calls: obtaining a parking permit.

It’s no surprise that parking permit inquiries make up such a large chunk of our call volume because the City offers 36 different permit types, and the application processes can be difficult at times. However, we are continually working to make the process easier and more efficient.

One key support is to have 311 service representatives available 24/7 to assist you. Equally important, 311 and Traffic and Parking frequently review and update information on each of those categories to ensure that 311 staff, as well as constituents using our online services or mobile app, can readily access needed information such as the requirements for a certain permit or where to go to appeal a ticket. If you have feedback on your experience, we’re always happy to consider your suggestions. Please call 311 or email with your comments.

100: That’s the percentage of the 140 Somerville High School Career and Technical Education (CTE) graduates who are headed either for career positions in their field of study, to college or other post-secondary education institutions, or to the military. That is a remarkable accomplishment, but that certainly isn’t the only one the CTE class of 2017 racked up this year. They are the first graduating class to have competed at Skills USA where they medaled at the highest levels in numerous categories including culinary arts, dental sciences, architectural design, and carpentry. CTE students complete a rigorous academic curriculum in addition to their technical career training requirements, and every Somerville student who wishes to enroll in a CTE program can do so.

46: May is National Bicycle Safety Month, and while bike safety is on our agenda year-round, in honor of Safety Month, here’s a quick look at current bicycling data and safety initiatives. Currently, the city has 46 miles of sharrows, bike lanes, and bike paths, and according to the most recent census data, there are 3,180 bicycle commuters here, not to mention the many people who visit here from neighboring communities and arrive by bicycle. Upcoming projects to improve and increase the safety of our bike infrastructure include completing protected bike lanes on Beacon St., upgrading the bicycle facilities in Union Square, extending the Community Path as part of the Green Line Extension project, and continuing our education efforts around critical safety information (including inserting info cards on bicycle road markings with all mailed parking permits this spring). Recently, we also lowered speed limits on most roads citywide to 25 mph and added more 20 mph safety zones, which has been shown to reduce fatalities and serious injuries for all commuters. But just as important as what we do, is what you do. No matter whether you walk, ride, cycle, or drive, please always remain alert and obey the rules of the road to help keep one another safe.

28: That’s the number of photographs currently on exhibit at City Hall as part of Somerville photographer Randi Freundlich’s ongoing Children of the World series. The series tells stories about children of immigrant families, each from a different country, who live in the Boston area including in Somerville. Amid all the sweeping misrepresentations and demonizing of immigrants emanating from the White House, this exhibit humanizes and opens up a window to the lives of some of our youngest new residents. With compelling photographs, Freundlich highlights and celebrates each child’s personality, and with accompanying texts, she captures another sort of snapshot of their lives. I walk by these photographs every weekday at City Hall and each time I catch something new and meaningful in them. To date, families from 55 different countries have been included in the series. Some of the photographs displayed in the City Hall exhibit were taken by participants in The Welcome Project’s youth program. A grant from the Somerville Arts Council allowed Randi to work with program participants around photography skills and exploring their identities and cultures. The exhibit will remain up in City Hall through June. I hope you’ll take the time to come view it.

Data-based decision making is at the core of how the City of Somerville develops policy and sets priorities. Every day we check the latest 311 stats, and throughout the week we meet for in-depth review of departmental data and city trends. The monthly Data Download column shares some of the data we’ve been reviewing recently. To see more Somerville Data, visit the online Somerville Data Farm at


4 Responses to “Data Download with Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone”

  1. JJ says:

    Glad to see Somerville is pushing for better bike infrastructure, but sharrows shouldn’t be counted in the miles of road/path for safe biking along with dedicated bike lanes and bike paths. Auto drivers are required to share the road with bicyclists on all roads, regardless of sharrows. All sharrows do is reiterate the law for any road, but worse they make some drivers think that on non-sharrow roads they don’t have to share the road. They do nothing to protect bicyclists. If you really want to protect bicyclists, you need to take some of the two-way streets that are already too narrow for 2 cars to fit, change them to one-way and add a bike lane. The good bike infrastructure that does exist often has no safe way for a bicyclist to get to it, so it ends up under-used.

  2. TheoNa says:

    The parking permit process is a scam created to enlarge a bureaucracy and impose a tax on motorists.. A more efficient method would be to align the parking permit process with excise tax payments. Most other towns in the Commonwealth charge less than $10 a year for resident parking permits.

  3. Matt says:

    TheoNa – Most other towns don’t have 5-9 cars associated with 30 feet of frontage. Our current method of permitting does nothing to reduce the number of cars per building,

    JJ – I agree with you on your comment on sharrows, There needs to be a plan that feeds bikers into specific routes (like a highway system). This would help to keep the bulk of bikers off less bike friendly streets and promote the cities commitment to alternatives to cars.

    Think about this – What would be the best bit of bike infrastructure, the community path, is not bikeable during peak hours because of pedestrians (whom it was built for). It is far easier, and imho, safer to bike on Morrison which has great pavement, is nice and wide and has infrequent traffic and is pretty flat (compared to highland or broadway). I would love to see the city designate and help people navigate to these best bike routes.

  4. Paul says:

    I would like to make an observation on bicycle safety in the city from the view of someone that commutes daily to the city in a car. I am NOT anti biker at all but i do see on a daily basis how bikers want the best of both worlds as far as road laws are concerned. Daily I see bikers roll up to a red light, then if they stop at all, dart into oncoming traffic. If they get hit its immediately perceived as the car drivers fault. Point being that bikers want to be given courtesy on the roads yet there are no repurcussions for not obeying the laws of the road on a bicycle. If a car runs a red light and police see it they get a ticket. Not on a bike though. Bike safety should include bikers following the laws of the road as well as motorists respecting bikers on the roads.

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