Next Wednesday, February 26, the City of Boston will host a public hearing to present and gather comments on the 25% design of Phase 1 of the Connect Historic Boston bike trail and Constitution Road protected bike lane proposals. MassBike strongly encourages Boston residents who want safer bike routes into and around downtown to attend the meeting and voice their support for the project.
WHERE: Boston City Hall, Room 801
WHEN: Wednesday, February 26, 2014, 6:00 PM
The proposal for Phase 1 of the bike trail calls for continuous bi-directional protected bike lanes along Staniford Street, Causeway Street, Commercial Street, and Atlantic Ave in the West End, Bullfinch Triangle, and North End neighborhoods. Additional sections would be constructed during Phase 2. You can review detailed plans and meeting minutes from past public meetings on the project here.
According to Connect Historic Boston,
Bicycling through downtown is confusing and uncomfortable with one-way streets, narrow lanes, and lack of bicycle accommodations. Increasing bicycle trips from transit hubs to popular destinations, workplaces, or homes would help reduce congestion on transit by providing an alternative to one stop transfers on the subway sysem.
The Connect Historic Boston Trail will be a family-friendly bicycle loop around downtown Boston, providing access to major transit hubs, regional trails, and National Park Service visitor centers and National Park Service Partner sites.
[caption id="attachment_21718" align="aligncenter" width="682"] The proposed network. Image: Connect Historic Boston[/caption]
Connect Historic Boston is a partnership between the National Park Service and Boston Transportation Department to make biking, walking, and taking the T to National Park sites and other destinations in downtown Boston a safe and attractive alternative to driving. For people who ride bikes for transportation in and around downtown, the bike trail will provide a more comfortable route protected from car traffic that will provide more direct connections between destinations than currently allowed by the mostly one-way street grid.
MassBike Executive Director David Watson was a member of the Connect Historic Boston Advisory Group which was instrumental in moving the project forward. Funding for the project, which also includes pedestrianizing the Blackstone Block and Joy Street, comes from a Federal Highway Administration TIGER grant.
[caption id="attachment_21743" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] When complete, the Connect Historic Boston bike trail will probably look similar to the Indianpolis Cultural Trail, an innovative family-friendly biking and walking trail that connects downtown with historic areas outside downtown. With separate spaces for bikes and pedestrians, the trail provides safe biking routes for residents and tourists alike. Image courtesy of Indycog.[/caption]
UPDATE 2/19: Great news - MassBike is very pleased to announce that DCR has agreed to convene a meeting. Yesterday, Commissioner Jack Murray and I had a productive conversation about the need to address both snow removal and bicycle transportation policy. This is a very welcome step toward better aligning the needs of people who ride bikes for transportation with DCR policy. Further details about the meeting will be announced shortly.
Over the weekend, a series of emails was made public depicting an exchange between various DCR personnel and a bicycle commuter regarding bicycling conditions on the Southwest Corridor. The emails contain a number of controversial statements that have caused major concern among the bicycling community and need to be addressed.
MassBike takes the issue of snow removal on off-road pathways - and all bicycle facilities - very seriously because many people who ride bikes rely on them for their daily transportation 365 days a year. In many cases, pathways like the Southwest Corridor or the Charles River bike paths are the only safe route for people who ride bikes where parallel roadways are unsafe or uncomfortable for bicycling. Furthermore, all state agencies should be unequivocally committed to well-established state laws and policies, such as the Healthy Transportation Compact, that support increased bicycle use for everyday transportation.
This is why I have written DCR Commissioner Jack Murray to request a meeting to address the issues raised in these emails and ensuing public discussion. I appreciate the challenges that DCR and other agencies have faced this winter, and can understand the frustrations expressed by both DCR and bicyclists, but we have the opportunity to shift this discussion to a real dialogue.
I have recommended a wide range of groups encompassing the bicycle, pedestrian, and parks advocacy communities be at the table. The goal of the meeting should be recommendations to better align the needs of people who ride bikes with DCR policy, and set expectations appropriately for both DCR personnel and the bicycling community.
My hope is for a frank and open discussion covering the snow clearance expectations and needs of cyclists and other user groups, and DCR's policies and practices regarding snow clearance and bicycle transportation.
In Allston, what started as a routine bridge deck replacement project turned into a major community effort to transform a long-reviled and unsafe roadway into a more livable, human-scaled city street. When MassDOT presented it's plans in June 2013 to replace the deck of the Cambridge Street bridge, which spans the Massachusetts Turnpike, shortcomings in the proposed design became a call to action for neighborhood organizing efforts. A coalition of neighborhood groups, residents, and advocacy groups, including MassBike, came together over the past nine months to press MassDOT and elected officials for a better design.
People who ride bikes will see major improvements right away. Dedicated on-street accommodations will be implemented from the start of construction, anticipated to start this Spring, and be maintained throughout. Currently, there are no dedicated bicycle facilities on Cambridge Street.
[caption id="attachment_21615" align="alignleft" width="300"] Cambridge Street now: inhospitable for all users. Photo: Matthew Danish[/caption]
Galen Mook, Organizer of Allston-Brighton Bikes, says of the community organizing process, "This was a collaboration between residents, advocacy groups, elected officials, and the project managers who all spent a lot of time thinking and retooling the design, who came out on several occasions for site visits with the elected officials and project managers, and to the residents who met nearly every week over the course of several months to strategize how to publicize and effect change on this project."
[caption id="attachment_21608" align="alignright" width="151"] Proposed design for Cambridge Street. Images: MassDOT[/caption]
At several public meetings, hundreds of residents came out to speak in favor of better access and safety for bicyclists and pedestrians, slower speeds for car traffic, and design elements that would make Cambridge Street an attractive and inviting gateway to the Allston Village community.
Describing the current nature of Cambridge Street, Mook adds, "this is one of the trickiest stretches of road in Boston, a relic of the highway era of the 1960s, when the MassPike used to terminate in Allston before it went all the way downtown. This road is overbuilt and has certainly outlived its function."
The outcome of this collaborative process is a design which incorporates important elements the community asked for, including:
- Physically separated cycletracks at sidewalk level away from motor vehicle traffic.
- A pedestrian crosswalk at Mansfield Street, midway across the span of the bridge.
- Streetscape improvements including new lighting and fencing.
In addition to these specific elements, the community won a larger commitment from MassDOT to give a full evaluation of existing bicycle and pedestrian facilities between North Allston and Allston Village and part of the upcoming MassPike straightening project. With continued advocacy and involvement from community members, cycletracks may eventually extend along Cambridge Street uninterrupted between Harvard Ave and the Charles River.
The fact that MassDOT has made significant improvements to the design presented in June 2013 is a true testament to local community members' tireless advocacy efforts and to the department's responsiveness and forward-thinking. MassBike helped by spreading the word about public meetings, signing onto the community's multiple letters, and submitting a comment letter to MassDOT after working directly with organizers and project managers to make specific recommendations that address safety concerns for bicyclists.
You can read our letter to MassDOT in full here. The letter makes the following general recommendations:
- Address design details at the Cambridge Street/Harvard Ave/Franklin Street intersection to provide ease of use for bicyclists and alleviate conflict points among motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
- Continue the eastbound cycletrack up to Lincoln Street and provide a two-stage left turn box for bicyclists.
- Provide signage and queuing space to alleviate conflict points between pedestrians and bicyclists at the mid-bridge crossing.
- Implement pedestrian and bicycle shared use path pavement markings from Harvard Avenue/ Franklin Street intersection to the pedestrian bridge.
- Provide "Bicycles May Use Full Lane" signs in both directions along Cambridge Street, acknowledging that when the cycletrack is in place, some bicyclists will choose to ride in the Cambridge Street roadway to access Highgate Street.
Cape Cod is fondly regarded as a top bike-friendly destination in Massachusetts with its rail trails, scenic byways, and frequent organized rides. But local residents and officials have recently been sounding the alarm about bicycle safety for the thousands of seasonal workers who flock to the area every summer to work in restaurants and resorts.
MassBike and it's partners on the Cape are looking to find solutions to tackle this growing safety issue.
Every summer, student workers come from countries across the globe with special temporary work visas to meet the seasonal surge in demand for service industry employees. Without access to a car, many of these workers take to bicycles as their primary mode of transportation. This poses a safety concern because these workers are often out late at night when their shifts end, riding bikes of questionable condition, without lights, wearing dark clothing, and unfamiliar with the rules of the road.
Seasonal worker bicycle safety was one of the issues that emerged at last November's Cape Cod Bicycle Summit, and one which MassBike and it's partners throughout the Cape are working to address. After the Cape Cod Bike Summit, an ad hoc coalition bringing together county officials, the regional transit agency, law enforcement, bicycle advocates, and public health officials was formed to address issues around bicycle safety.
MassBike Executive Director David Watson recently attended a coalition meeting in Barnstable convened by Sheila Lyons, Barnstable County Commissioner. Other meeting attendees included MassBike Cape Cod and Islands Chapter President Rob Miceli, Orleans Police Department Detective Kevin Higgins, Barnstable County Sean DPHE Environmental Specialist Sean O'Brien, Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority Project Manager Julie Quintero-Schulz, Cape Cod Commission Planner Martha Hevenor, Barnstable County Mass In Motion coordinator Vaira Harik, and others.
Many ideas to boost seasonal work bicycle safety were explored, but discussion focused on four main areas of interest:
- Talking about bike safety directly with seasonal workers at orientation sessions and outreach events.
- Distributing bike lights and helmets either directly to seasonal workers or to landlords and business owners who often supply bicycles for seasonal workers.
- Developing effective strategies for law enforcement to educate and enforce rules of the road for both drivers and bicyclists.
- Building driver awareness by sending out a bicycle safety pamphlet with the vehicle excise tax mailing and other strategies.
The goal of the coalition is to develop specific safety programs that will be rolled out for the upcoming Summer 2014 tourist season. Stay tuned for updates.
In case you haven't already heard, Massbike has been nominated for the People's Choice Advocacy Award, presented by the Alliance for Biking & Walking and Bicycling Magazine. We're honored to be nominated for the "Oscars of bicycle advocacy" -- and we need your help to win! The award will be presented at the National Bike Summit on March 3, 2014.
Will you take just one minute to vote for us?
MassBike is your only statewide bicycle advocacy organization, working towards better biking across the Bay State since 1977. Our nomination recognizes the successful completion of the first full year of our Bikeable Communities Program in 2013. We've trekked around the Commonwealth to work in 37 communities on projects ranging from Complete Streets trainings to bikeability assessments to advisory committees to GIS mapping -- and more!
If we win, the recognition will help MassBike leverage additional support to bring the Bikeable Communities Program to more locations across Massachusetts.
Please spread the word to your networks by forwarding this email, posting on Facebook, tweeting, or using any other channels you have. If you use Twitter, be sure to mention @MassBike in your tweet, and we'll give you a shout out.
Complete Streets guidelines could be adopted by municipal governments across the Commonwealth in the near future thanks to a bill currently making its way through the Massachusetts State House.
An Act Relative to Active Streets and Healthy Communities (S.68/H.3091), sponsored by Senator Chandler of Worcester and Representative Lewis of Winchester/Stoneham, provides $50 million in funding incentives over the next five years to communities that adopt a Complete Streets bylaw, ordinance, or administrative policy that demonstrates the municipality’s commitment to routinely including infrastructure for active transportation in its locally funded road projects. The bill was incorporated into the pending Transportation Bond Bill and approved by the Massachusetts House of Representatives yesterday. The bill now moves on to the Senate for consideration.
Complete Streets design elements, such as bike lanes, cycle tracks, and improved sidewalks, encourage people to choose active transportation for their local trips by enhancing safety, providing dedicated space, and heightening motorist awareness of other road users.
This is an exciting development. MassBike and other advocates, led by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the Massachusetts Public Health Association, have been working on this bill for over a year. We successfully activated our growing statewide advocacy network to generate support for the bill, and we were heard! MassBike will continue to push for the bill's passage in the Senate.
You can follow the latest developments around the bill on Twitter by following #ActiveSts.
Bicycle and pedestrian advocates across Massachusetts are excited and encouraged by Governor Patrick's and MassDOT's efforts to ensure long term investments in infrastructure that encourages more bicycle and pedestrian trips in the Commonwealth.
Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) released its draft Capital Investment Plan (CIP) for the 2014-2018 fiscal years. Within the plan, bike and pedestrian capital funding is set to increase from around $4 million in FY 2014 to over $17 million in FY 2015, with investment totaling $130 million over the plan's five year period.
The good news is that this $130 million in proposed investment represents a huge opportunity for Massachusetts residents to see many long dreamed-of projects come to life. This funding will be used for construction and reconstruction of bikeways and bike paths, including rail trails and scenic byways. There is also room for funding of bicycle facilities within roadway and bridge spending. Additionally, the CIP outlines significant investments in transit projects around the Commonwealth.
In the coming weeks, MassDOT will be hosting series of public meetings throughout the Commonwealth to gather input on the CIP. We strongly encourage you to attend the meeting closest to you to let MassDOT know how important it is that the proposed bicycle and pedestrian investments are included at their full levels in the finalized CIP. And, if you have questions about why certain projects were included - or not included - in the CIP, now is the time to ask. We can, and should, thank MassDOT for proposing significantly increased investment in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, while at the same time letting them know we want them to do even more!
What's in the CIP
Bicycle and Pedestrian: $130 million over five years for rail trails, bikeways, multi-use paths and related projects. Some highlights include portions of the Cochituate Rail Trail in Framingham, segment 7 of the Blackstone River Bikeway in Worcester, segments of the Columbia Greenway in Westfield, and much more. We encourage you to read the full list within the draft CIP.
Transit: $3.5 billion over five years including flagship projects such as the Green Line extension to Medford, South Coast rail expansion, making Cape Cod rail service permanent, and more. This investment will encourage multimodal trips that include a combination of bicycling, walking, and transit.
When and Where
- 6:00 PM Public Meeting: Boston, MassDOT Capital Investment Plan
- 6:00 PM Public Meeting: Worcester, MassDOT Capital Investment Plan
- 6:00 PM Public Meeting: Amherst, MassDOT Capital Investment Plan
- 6:00 PM Public Meeting: Pittsfield, MassDOT Capital Investment Plan
We understand that the draft CIP document is very dense and full of information. If you have any specific questions about understanding which projects are included in the draft plan, please feel free to email us at email@example.com.
- Legislative Agenda - We will continue working to pass the safety bills we introduced at the beginning of the legislative session last year. These bills include the Vulnerable Road Users Bill (S 1639) and the Bike Lane Protection Bill (S 1640), among others. You can read more about them here. Now in its third year, the Massachusetts Bike/Walk Summit at the State House is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, April 3 from 10 AM - 1 PM.
- Bikeable Communities Program - We've already completed projects in 37 communities under our flagship program, and we will expand our work empowering local advocates to more communities, especially focusing on our state's Gateway Cities. Read more about the Bikeable Communities Program here.
- Police Education - Police Departments are recognizing that understanding the rules for bicyclists (and other road users), and recognizing what safe - and unsafe - interactions look like , is more important than ever. This Spring, we will release our new bicycle safety training video for police officers to help improve safety for everyone on our roadways.
- Commercial Driver Licensing - With the tragic deaths of several bicyclists in Massachusetts from crashes with large vehicles, it is clear that there is a serious need for better training for truck and bus drivers. Following up on our successful work with MBTA bus drivers, we are already working on adding bicycle-specific safety training to the Commercial Driver Licensing process.
- Youth Bike Safety Training - We are expanding our on-bike child safety training to after-school programs, one in the Boston area and one in the Berkshires. One of them will be with high schoolers, an age group we typically don't get to work with. We think more intensive safety training for kids is essential for a more bike-friendly future, and these pilot programs will help us develop an effective educational model for Massachusetts.
- Federal/State Funding - On Beacon Hill, we will continue working with legislators to make sure that bicycling is given its fair share of funding. On Capitol Hill, we will visit our members of Congress in March for the National Bike Summit to urge them to increase funding for bicycling.
- Valet Bike Parking - Valet bike parking is a really public way to encourage people to ride their bikes to events, and we did a lot of it in 2013 - from EarthFest in May to the Boston Bike Party Halloween Ride in October. But we want to do even more of it! You can help by connecting us with your favorite restaurants, shops, venues, and events. We think all large events should offer valet bike parking!
- Bay State Bike Week - 2013 was our biggest year yet for Bay State Bike Week, with 175 events and an estimated 14,000 participants. We want to make it even bigger. Have you started planning your community's event?
- National Bike Challenge - MassBike brought the National Bike Challenge to Massachusetts in 2013, and we want a lot more people to participate in 2014. Are you ready for the challenge?
- Awareness Campaign - There are a lot of road users out there, and we all need to get along. We cannot reach everyone on our own, so we will work with other advocacy groups to increase safety awareness as broadly as possible.
- Build Our Volunteer Base - Everything from tabling events to monthly renewals to bike valet needs the dedicated hands of our volunteers. We want to increase the number of volunteers we have so that MassBike can do even more for bicyclists! Are you interested in getting involved? Contact Volunteer@MassBike.org
- Grow Membership - What would MassBike be without its members? Everything we do, we can only do with the support of our membership. We count on members to call their legislators, to come to our events, to volunteer, and to support all our programs - you are the bedrock of our organization. It's simple: more members means more political clout and more resources. If you aren't a dues-paying member of MassBike, we hope you will sign up here. And tell your friends - we are working for everyone who rides a bike in Massachusetts.
- Increase Donations - The reality is that we need money to make it all happen. We count on donations for a large percentage of our operations. If we want to grow our advocacy in communities around the state, be the voice for bicyclists at more project meetings, and move toward zero bicyclist fatalities, we need to increase donations. If you are interested in donating to MassBike, you can do so here.
- Have Fun! - Look forward to a calendar full of fun and exciting events in 2014!
That's quite a list, but with a little help from you we should be able to get it done. Thanks in advance!
MassBike is very pleased to introduce our two newest staff members, Charlotte Troy, Programs Director, and Nathaniel Fink, Communications and Outreach Manager.
Charlotte comes to us with a background in urban planning and a focus on bicycle advocacy and alternative transportation systems. Her professional experience includes research and writing; program development, management, and evaluation; community outreach and participation; and workshop facilitation and design. At MassBike, she manages the Bikeable Communities Program with the goal of building local capacity to promote better bicycling throughout the Commonwealth. She holds B.A. in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and a M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Nathaniel brings to MassBike his experience in non-profit development, social media and blogging, and a passion for bicycle advocacy. As Communications and Outreach Manager, Nathaniel will be working to generate excitement and build momentum around the important work MassBike is doing to make Massachusetts safer and more accommodating for bicycling and encouraging new people to ride. He holds a B.F.A in Photography from Maryland Institute College of Art.
Welcome aboard, Charlotte and Nathaniel!
Continuing public outreach to the Springfield community through the Live Well Springfield community partnership, MassBike held a public meeting at the Armoury-Quadrangle Civic Association (AQCA) last week to gather input for developing the City of Springfield Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan. AQCA, an all-volunteer non-profit organization representing residents and businesses in the Armoury-Quadrangle neighborhood of downtown Springfield, hosted the meeting. Carol Costa, AQCA President, opened the meeting with updates on neighborhood issues and introduced MassBike and Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) staff to the audience. Roughly 25 Springfield and area residents attended the meeting to share their ideas for improving walking and biking in and around the city.
Residents provided written comments through the Springfield Bicycling and Walking Survey and marked up neighborhood maps illustrating potential bicycle routes, dangerous pedestrian crossings, and other barriers to safe walking and biking in Springfield. Comments from residents spanned numerous topics with particular concerns being voiced around safe access to bus stops in snowy conditions, unsafe pedestrian crossings at specific locations, connections to a proposed rail-trail project in the McKnight Neighborhood, and providing bicycle lanes on important corridors that connect neighborhoods, such as State Street.
If you live or ride a bike in Springfield, we encourage you to take the Springfield Bicycling and Walking Survey to help shape the Springfield Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan.
We also encourage Springfield residents to attend the final three public input meetings for the Springfield Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan:
What: Public Meeting on the Springfield Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan
When: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 - 5:00 PM
Where: Bay Area Neighborhood Council
Karen Sprague Cultural Arts Center
American International College
1000 State Street,
Springfield MA 01109
Where: Forest Park Civic Association
When: Details coming soon
Where: New North Citizens Council
When: Details coming soon
This work has been made possible through MassBike’s involvement in Live Well Springfield, a coalition of community organizations, including Partners for a Healthier Community, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and the City of Springfield. The city's first bike lane is a direct result of that work. Read more about our efforts here.