Live Updates: Harvard President Claudine Gay’s Inauguration


A Proposal to Merge Harvard’s Small Language Programs Has Fallen Flat. What’s Next for the Humanities?


Cambridge Public Schools MCAS Scores Return to Pre-Pandemic Levels


‘Celebrations Come to Life’ for Harvard Students Celebrating Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur


Harvard College Suspends ‘Senior Gift’ Campaign Amid Falling Buy-in from Students

Harvard Affiliates, Cambridge Resident Debate Memorial Drive Traffic Closure at City Council Meeting

At a Cambridge City Council meeting Monday, Cambridge residents and councilors debated traffic closures on Memorial Drive.
At a Cambridge City Council meeting Monday, Cambridge residents and councilors debated traffic closures on Memorial Drive. By Julian J. Giordano
By Samuel P. Goldston, Crimson Staff Writer

Cambridge residents and councilors passionately debated weekend traffic closures on Memorial Drive at a Cambridge City Council meeting Monday.

“Policy Order 5” — which would extend the traffic closure at Riverbend Park in front of Harvard’s river houses — drew a substantial number of public comments, including from Harvard students and other residents who do not regularly attend Council meetings.

Several commenters, who identified themselves as Harvard affiliates, said students and other Cambridge residents significantly benefit from the closure of Memorial Drive on Saturdays.

“Memorial Drive is one of the urban jewels of the city of Cambridge,” said Clyve Lawrence ’25, a Crimson Editorial editor. “I urge you to consider the value and potential of Memorial Drive as a public space that can continue bringing us together and leading us toward a more sustainable and resilient future.”

Other residents from outside Harvard also said they support the traffic closure and its benefits for pedestrians and cyclists.

“As a senior citizen, I appreciate having a safe place to exercise, especially a green, open space where I can be surrounded by beautiful trees and where I can appreciate the Charles River,” said local resident Sandra Fairbank.

Other residents said they strongly opposed the policy order and urged the city to pay more attention to those whose homes are on streets that see traffic from Memorial Drive on weekends.

“That’s really wonderful that it’s being enjoyed, but we’re the ones who are losing the quality of life on the other side of it, and I don’t hear anyone talking about the quality of life that the residents have been enduring,” said Sheila Headley-Burwell, who is also a member of the City Manager’s Advisory Committee.

“I’m not saying that these people should not enjoy it; I’m saying that what they want gone is now on our doorstep,” Headley-Burwell added.

City Councilor E. Denise Simmons exercised her “charter right” on the policy order, thereby delaying a decision on the matter, due to her objections on behalf of people living on the detour streets.

“The Memorial Drive debate has echoes of so many past battles in which the voices of concerned neighbors, Black people, moderate-income people, minorities, people who are often referred to as the have-nots among us, have been so callously, casually, and dismissively brushed aside,” she said.

Simmons characterized the opposition to Riverside residents’ concerns as insensitive to the historical dismissal of people from marginalized groups in Cambridge.

“The response is, ‘The benefits of the many outweigh the inconveniences of a few, so too bad for you,’” she said.

—Staff writer Samuel P. Goldston can be reached at

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Cambridge City CouncilCambridgeMetro