July Recap - a note from Executive Director Richard Fries

For many, the month of July means vacation. For MassBike, however, summertime is a busy season where we press forward with our work to improve conditions for bicyclists in order to help make you feel like you belong on the roads of the Bay State. The work contained in this monthly update is made possible through the support of our members and donors. We encourage you to get involved and support MassBike through a donation or as a volunteer.

Sadly, we ended the month learning about a motorist striking and killing bicyclist Dan Pimenta. An experienced rider who raised thousands of dollars to find a cure for multiple sclerosis, Pimenta was struck and killed while riding along Hale Street in Beverly. A veteran Peabody firefighter, the loss is hard to fathom for friends, family and members of the North Shore cycling community. Dan Pimenta was the sixth bicycle rider killed on Massachusetts roads this year. While statistically cycling is safer than ever, we work for a day when there are zero traffic fatalities.

Much of this work is centered around our omnibus traffic safety bill, An Act to reduce traffic fatalities (S.1905/H2877). Working with lawmakers, attorneys, advocacy groups and our colleagues on the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition, MassBike helped sharpen the language and prioritize components of “omni-bike Bill.” Filed in January, this 23-section bill saw no opposition during hearings with the Transportation Committee. MassBike is working to get it favorably reported and sent on through Ways and Means, the general Legislature, and then to the governor’s desk for signature.

A hotly debated topic this summer has been in regards to the emergence of electric-assist bicycles. Some are raising concerns over the speed with which those bikes can travel on bike paths. Most agree that pedal-assist e-bikes - which have a factory set maximum speed of 20 mph, are relatively benign and create opportunities for a wider range of citizens to enjoy bicycling. But there are some throttle-only e-bikes capable of exceeding 30 mph seen of late on bike paths. MassBike attended the July joint meeting of the bicycle advisory committees of Arlington, Lexington and Bedford, where the topic was discussed. Technically no “motorized vehicles” are allowed on path. But that definition has been unclear under state law. While no action was taken at the meeting, the three towns will be studying the emerging nomenclature of e-bikes to decide whether to declare an outright ban, a restriction to only allow pedal assist, or the simple establishment of posted speed limits on the path.

What else did we work on in July? Take a look!

  • Working through our Pioneer Valley Chapter and Craig Della Penna of Northeast Greenway Solutions, MassBike met with the leadership of the Friends of the Northampton Trails and Greenways to enhance our partnership with this amazing group that has steadily expanded and improved the Norwottuck Trail, an extension of the Mass Central trail which will soon connect Boston to Northampton by a single bike path.

  • We hosted the first of a series of “Shop Talks” at Acton Pedal Power that we have titled the Middlesex Revelation: How Massachusetts Can Become the Netherlands of America. We filled the seats for this presentation with GPS data, maps, proposals and policies that could create the most connected network of bike paths in America within five years. Our next one is this Thursday at Landry’s Bicycles Natick!

  • We continued to develop the Ciclovia in Lawrence, a wildly successful street festival entering its third year and helped out with the event this past weekend. You can read more about it here.

  • We joined leaders from the MAPC, MassDOT, Livable Streets Alliance, the Waltham Bike Advisory Committee, and others in a reconnaissance ride of the proposed MassCentral rail trail that will soon connect downtown Waltham to the established trail in Waverly. On the return travel the expedition followed some of the amazing network of aqueducts that will soon host multi-use trails throughout MetroWest. Waltham will soon have a nexus of three bike paths and train station to help ease that city’s infamous traffic congestion.

  • Our office at CIC Boston hosted a bike fair, which we helped to host and organize in our building. CIC is a collaborative work space that hosts hundreds of bright entrepreneurs, start-ups, and mission-based non-profits.

  • We finished up our outreach classes to seasonal immigrants who work car-free on the Cape during the summer months. Each year more than 2,500 workers use a special visa to visit the states and work. Sadly, at least two of those workers have been struck and killed in recent years. Working with MassDOT,local charities, and business leaders, MassBike ran a series of clinics to provide basic lights, reflective gear and lessons on riding in America.

  • Run & Ride at Cambridgeside, in its eighth annual event at the Cambridgeside Galleria Mall, is an event that has blown up in popularity with close to 900 kids towing the line run, ride and run again through the streets of East Cambridge. Kids win dozens of prizes, including bikes and iPads. We were thrilled to be involved with this event again this year.

  • We helped celebrate the installation of bike lockers capable of holding - and protecting - a dozen bicycles at the Framingham Commuter Rail station.

  • We returned to Framingham, which is rapidly updating its streetscape to a 21st Century standard, for a ribbon cutting on the Dudley Road bike path that connects parks, athletic facilities, schools and business districts. Such feeder paths will help transform this town (soon to become a city) when the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail connects into the downtown.

  • We were among hundreds of people who celebrated the groundbreaking of Phase 2 of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail in West Concord. While it has taken nearly 30 years of hard work to complete less than 7 miles of the 25-miles planned, state and local officials are fast tracking the completion of the entire trail in the coming five years.

  • We joined Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack in opening a new bridge on the Cape Cod Rail Trail in Dennis. The governor also announced a 60 percent increase in funding for the expansion of that trail, one of the state’s most popular.

  • Our bike valet team has been busy! We were at the Green River Festival with our Pioneer Valley Chapter. We parked nearly 400 bikes! And on July 23rd when Newbury Street went car free again, we partnered with the Rapha pop-up store to provide bike parking to the throngs of people who enjoyed this popular street in a whole new manner. Hopefully MassBike can return to provide service for the next two car-free Sundays! Stay tuned.

It's through the support of our members and donors that we can continue these initiatives. I encourage you to get involved. Join or renew your membership with MassBike. Come to our Shop Talk event at Landry's Natick this Thursday. Donate. Volunteer. Your support keeps us going to improve your ride from door to door.

Thank you,

Richard
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Richard Fries, MassBike Executive Director

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