Better Biking On The Vineyard With MassBike

Earlier in July, Programs Director Price and I (Kim) had the opportunity to tour Martha’s Vineyard (on bike—of course!) with some local planners and advocates, and to attend the Martha’s Vineyard Bicycle-Pedestrian Planning Advisory Committee (MVBPAC) meeting for the month of July.

We were there to take a look at some of the gaps in the bicycle infrastructure, and to provide advice on how the Martha's Vineyard Commission currently engages gathers citizen input. After traveling by ferry from New Bedford, which conveniently allowed us to transport our bicycles, we were met by staff members from the Martha's Vineyard Commission who guided us through three of the island’s six towns (Oaks Bluffs, Edgartown, and Tisbury). We later attended the regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Group meeting in Oak Bluffs.

Overall, we were very impressed with the existing infrastructure. Martha’s Vineyard offers a wonderful selection of off-street bicycle paths, which are widely used by both island residents and tourists alike. However, there are some critical gaps between paths and key destinations like town centers, a problem not uncommon to other multiuse paths in the Commonwealth. The MVBPAC plays a key role in guiding the development of those connections, making it very important to have a strong, effective committee.

[caption id="attachment_21043" align="alignright" width="294"] Programs Director Price Armstrong[/caption]

In September, the MVBPAC is going to meet again to form a strategic vision for its role in the development of new bicycle infrastructure, and other efforts to improve bicyclist safety. The Committee is looking for full- or part-time residents who are interested in helping with the important work of this committee.

For our part, we will be facilitating this upcoming meeting. MassBike has extensive experience working with Bike/Ped Committees around the state, and so we are looking forward to taking lessons learned elsewhere and recommending best practices on the Vineyard. This is another great example of MassBike using its institutional knowledge to build the local capacity which supports bicycling. This work is a part of our Bikeable Communities Program, and made possible through the support of the Mass in Motion program.

For those interested, the meeting will take place on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at the Martha's Vineyard Commission in Oak Bluffs, MA at 5 p.m.

Hurry! Last Chance to Buy Discount Tickets for the Summer Century & Family Fun Fest!

This year’s Summer Century & Family Fun Fest is coming up fast! Taking place on Saturday, July 27th at the gorgeous NARA Park in Acton, this event is geared toward anyone who loves bicycles, BBQ, or the beach! We’ve got you and your family and friends covered—no matter your bicycling experience level. This is a perfect event for your first-ever group ride, your 100th, or if you just want to spend some quality time at an incredibly scenic park.

Advance ticket sales end Friday at 6PM! Register online to save $10. Bring family and friends to enjoy the beach, BBQ, and more for a low non-rider price!


The weather forecast looks great! NARA Park has sweeping views of the surrounding hills, trees, and lake and great access to some of the Commonwealth’s best riding routes—and it's easy to get there. (Google Maps)


We’ve got a whole host of fun activities, scenic routes, and tasty food and drink planned for you. Everything is included in your registration:

  • The 32 mile family-friendly route features over 7 miles of rail-trails, bikeways and multi-use paths which gives riders a chance to enjoy some car-free sections to appreciate the hard work of many cycling advocacy organizations to provide separated bike routes.  This route also has points to stop at Great Brook Farm for ice cream and farm animals to visit, as well as playgrounds and numerous historical sites along the Battle Field Road in Minuteman National Historical Park

  • The Metric Century (62 miles) is a bit more demanding and traverses many "hidden gem" roads and features stops at 3 orchard and farm stands.

  • The Century (100 miles) route encompasses the best of the Wachusett Reservoir and Reservation after enjoying a bit of rail-trail on the way. The backroads climb up to Mt. Wachusett (summit optional) followed by the wide-open descent is the best way for riders to enjoy one of Massachusetts' favorite climbs.

  • Fresh peaches, apples and cider donuts at the Bolton Orchards, Honey Pot Hill Orchards, and Verrill Farm rest stops!

  • After the ride, enjoy BBQ from the Redbones food truck

  • Two free beers from Sam Adams (for those 21+)

  • Drinks from Izze and Honest Tea and snacks from Larabar, Bear Naked Granola and Food Should Taste Good

  • Free post-ride yoga class provided by Amory Fitness

  • Beach pass to take a refreshing dip in NARA Park's lake, or spend some time paddle boating or canoeing

  • Fun activities for all ages, including kids’ bike ride around the lake and chalk art


Don’t miss out on this fun-filled event! Advance ticket sales end Friday 6/26 at 6PM and day-of rider tickets will be $10 more. All proceeds support MassBike's advocacy and education programs!

Don't Delay! Register Today!


Action Alert: Save Transportation Alternatives - Contact Your Senators TODAY!

This is happening TODAY, so we need you to take action right now!

Just last year Congress passed a new transportation bill, MAP-21, that dismantled dedicated funding for biking and walking by combining Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails into one program and cutting the funding by 30%. This is money that can be used to educate kids about bicycle and pedestrian safety, improve sidewalks, bike lanes, and paths near schools, and build and maintain off-road paths and trails for everyone.

Now Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky wants to wipe out what’s left.

Senator Paul has introduced an amendment to the Transportation Appropriations bill to prohibit ANY MONEY from being used for Transportation Alternatives, and to redirect that money towards bridge repair.

While we agree that repairing our bridges is important, both for safety and economic development reasons, so are our local economies and the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians. Dedicating the small amount of Transportation Alternatives funding to bridge repair couldn't fix our country's bridges in 50 years. This is really just an excuse to eliminate funding for important biking and walking programs. And, taking that small amount of funding away would dangerously undermine efforts in our cities and towns to provide safe and efficient transportation options for everyone, including our children. That is a trade we can’t afford to make.

Please ask Senator Markey and Senator Warren to save Transportation Alternatives by voting NO on amendment 1742.

Contact Senator Warren:
Phone: (202) 224-4543
Email: http://www.warren.senate.gov/?p=email_senator

Contact Senator Markey:
Phone: (202) 224-2742
Email: Not available currently (due to transition from House to Senate)

And please let us know you've taken action by cc'ing or emailing us at action@massbike.org.

Thank you so much for your help protecting funding for biking and walking!

Ride to Defeat ALS

The Ride to Defeat ALS™ is a one day cycling event raising funds to support those affected by Lou Gehrig’s disease and is set to take place on Sunday, September 29th. The Ride to Defeat ALS is more than a ride…it’s the ride of someone else’s life. Ride for those who can't. Honor and support those brave people who have had to face Lou Gehrig’s disease and the many caregivers and family members who wish for a future without ALS. Whether you ride for a sibling, a parent, a dear friend, yourself or the cause, we all have one common goal…to create a World Without ALS.

  • The ALS Association Massachusetts Chapter is excited to offer a 10, 25, 50 and 70 mile ride starting and finishing at the Longfellow Club in Wayland, MA. There is a $75 registration and a $250 fundraising minimum. Register Today and support our local ALS community!

  • All rides will start and finish at The Longfellow Club in Wayland and ride through the beautiful “Crossroads of New England”.


Ride for Angels: a great race and an even better cause!



Grab your bike and join Angel Flight Northeast for the Third Annual Ride for Angels on Sunday, September 8. Help raise awareness for Angel Flight Northeast,  non-profit organization that provides free flights in private aircraft by volunteer pilots, for persons who need access to medical care or have other compelling needs. Angel Flight NE brings hope and compassion to what can be a difficult time in a person’s life. This noncompetitive cycling event provides riders the opportunity to join other riders for a day of camaraderie while supporting Angel Flight NE.  Riders are able to participate in one of four lengths (20, 45, 65 or 100 miles) with sponsored rest stops along the way. At the end of your ride, each participant is treated to a BBQ style luncheon with raffle prizes. For more information, email Scott at rideforangels@angelflightne.org

Longfellow Bridge Construction Begins Amid Traffic Concerns

This week, MassDOT held the second public information meeting focused on the construction and traffic management plans for the Longfellow Bridge rehabilitation project. If you frequent the area, you may have noticed some of the preparatory work already in progress (in Charles Circle, in Kendall Square, and in front of the Museum of Science), and construction is scheduled to start in earnest later this month and run through September 2016.

The good news is that the current traffic management plan maintains two-way bicycle travel across the bridge throughout the project (with some weekend restrictions - see below). Motor vehicle traffic will be restricted to Boston-bound only; this will go into effect on July 20th. The project team also responded to our biggest concern from the first public meeting, revealing their plans for the bicycle connections between the bridge and local roads.

We are pleased to see the plans, and it is clear that the traffic engineers have put significant effort into them. But, while we have not yet fully evaluated the plans, several concerns were immediately apparent:

  • During 25 weekends (5 this year), the Red Line will be replaced by buses, and all traffic, including bicycles, will be diverted to detours (though cyclists will have the option to walk across the bridge on the sidewalk).

  • Charles River Dam Road (in front of the Museum of Science) is being reconfigured to carry detoured motor vehicle traffic and will have no bicycle facilities during construction. Bicyclists are expected to share the sidewalk in front of the museum with pedestrians, or brave riding in heavy traffic with no dedicated space.

  • Charles Circle will become even more confusing than it is now, and the plan does not fully address how bicyclists will safely navigate it to get on or off the bridge.

  • All traffic, including bicycles, will cross over to the "wrong" side of the road in Kendall Square to cross the bridge into Boston. The existing bike lane will split, with one branch continuing to Memorial Drive and the other going across the bridge. However, cars heading to Memorial Drive will have to turn right across the bike lane, creating a potentially dangerous conflict.

  • A number of representatives of the business and medical communities have expressed skepticism that the current plan, which restricts motor vehicle traffic to Boston-bound only, will work and are calling for two-way car traffic. At present, the project team is sticking with the one-way plan, but says it will monitor the situation and may make changes. Any move to retain two-way traffic may negatively impact bicyclist safety and access, and we will carefully scrutinize any such proposal.


We will be looking more carefully at all of these issues and providing comments to MassDOT. We would like to hear your concerns and thoughts - email them to advocacy@massbike.org.

You can also submit your own comments to MassDOT. Click here for the most recent project information. Comments are due 10 days after the meeting, which was held on July 10, 2013.

BY MAIL:
MassDOT Accelerated Bridge Program
Attn: Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project No. 604361
10 Park Plaza, Suite 6500
Boston, MA 02116

BY WEB FORM: Click here

BY EMAIL: longfellowbridge@state.ma.us

Springfield Youth Report On Bike Safety

Back in March, Programs Director Price Armstrong went to Renaissance High School to provide training to the students on how to undertake a Bikeability Assessment. The purpose of this project was to examine Carew Street as a pathway from the Liberty Heights neighborhood to the Connecticut Riverwalk and Bikeway. Last month, the students presented those findings at the regional planning agency in Springfield.

[caption id="attachment_20983" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Courtesy of Jeff McCullough, PVPC[/caption]

Aside from the initial trainings and feedback along the way, the project was driven entirely by the students. They undertook the assessment, processed the findings into a report, and then biked along Carew Street to present the report to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (pictured above). Additionally, they presented the findings of the report to the City of Springfield, which is good timing considering the broader project MassBike is currently engaged in. This report represents fresh eyes looking at ways to improve bicycling in the city. While you can read the full report here, the recommendations were:

  • Repair potholes

  • Update signage to allow access for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers

  • Restrict vehicle parking to one side of the road to allow space for a bicycle lane

  • Enforce the speed limit

  • Ensure proper trash removal and implement littering laws

  • Engage residents and community members to improve public safety

  • Increase available bicycle parking


Of particular note was engaging residents and community members to improve public safety. During the presentation, the students recalled that while they were assessing Carew Street, a police officer pulled the students over and asked what they were doing on the street, and, "Didn't they know that this neighborhood is dangerous?" This perception of danger from crime, whether justified or not, is a major barrier to bicycling that we will be working to address in the coming months.

This work represents the starting point for a vision of better connecting the city to one of its best biking and walking resources, the river path. While there is much progress to make, there are a lot of assets in the city to build on. Carew Street is lined with businesses, residences, municipal buildings, and other developments which attract travelers. The trick is just making sure that all users of the road, not just motorists, are safe while doing so.

Bike Safety Bills Hearing Report: What's Next?



Our two bicyclist safety bills had their first hearing in the Joint Committee on Transportation on June 26th. In case you missed our Action Alert, the bills are:

  •  The Act To Protect Vulnerable Road Users (S1639) defines vulnerable users and puts more responsibility on motorists to be careful around bicyclists and pedestrians. (Click here for the full text of the bill).

  • The Act To Protect Bicyclists In Bicycle Lanes (S1640) prohibits motor vehicles from parking in bike lanes. (Click here for the full text of the bill).


For more information on the bills, please see our Legislative Fact Sheet.

MassBike Executive Director David Watson, Representative Denise Provost, Lewis Howe of The Safety Institute, and Hillary Borcherding of WalkBoston all testified in support of the bills. We know other senators and representatives were communicating their support for the bills but could not attend the hearing. We also submitted a letter of support, joined by the Massachusetts Public Health Association, Transportation for Massachusetts, the Boston Cyclists Union, WalkBoston, and The Safety Institute.

Many thanks to all of you who contacted your legislators  - your efforts definitely won more support for the bills!

So what exactly happened at the hearing? The committee did not comment on the bike lane bill. The Vulnerable Road Users bill is a bit more involved, and committee members both expressed support and raised questions. As is the practice in Massachusetts, the committee did not take action on any bills during the hearing. Our plan is to focus our advocacy efforts on members of the committee to respond to their concerns and build support to take action on the bills.

It's not too late to ask your state representative and state senator to ask the committee to report favorably on these bills. If you want to do so, see our Action Alert for instructions.

If you are represented by a member of the committee (particularly co-chairs Senator McGee and Representative Straus), it's even more important to let them know you support these bills. Click here to see who is on the committee.

MassBike Members Save On Cycle For Shelter Ride

The 25th annual Cycle for Shelter charity ride will take place on Sunday, July 28, 2013 at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, MA. The ride benefits Emmaus Inc. a non-profit that has been providing shelter, services and affordable housing to homeless men, women and children since 1985.

Bicycing Magazine, considered the country's leading cycling magazine, listed Cycle for Shelter as one of its favorites rides in the country, and the reasons are clear. On a practical level, the ride entails a low registration fee and low fundraising minimum; it's a single-day event and it is fully supported by experience technicians, medical personnel, and enthusiastic volunteers - not to mention the hot showers, massage therapists, and delicious food waiting at the end of the ride.

Cyclists of all skill levels come together for an inspiring, rewarding experience that raises crucial funds to support Emmaus' mission. "It was definitely a challenge, but it was fun and I met lots of interesting and friendly people during the ride. And it was a really good feeling to think that maybe I was helping some little boy or girl have a better life", says 11 year old James Sullivan, who cycled the 50-mile route.

To register as a rider, please visit www.emmausinc.org or call 978.241.3444.

MassBike Members can use discount code Cycle2013 when they register, saving $50 on the current registration fee.

MassBike's New Project In Springfield

[caption id="attachment_20947" align="alignleft" width="300"] Springfield used to hold an internationally renowned bicycle tournament.[/caption]

Earlier in the month, MassBike kicked off a project in Springfield to help develop a bicycle and pedestrian plan and implementation strategy, which will set the stage for increased rates of active transportation in the city. While the details are still being finalized, Programs Director Price Armstrong has been spending two to three days per week in Springfield for the past few weeks getting the ball rolling.

This work is a part of the Community Transformation Grant (CTG) awarded to Springfield (click here for more about the overall project). The project is being headed by Live Well Springfield, a coalition of community groups and government entities including the City of Springfield, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and Partners for a Healthier Community, among many others. While MassBike will be focusing on bicycling and pedestrian issues, the CTG deals broadly with issues of active living and healthy nutrition. The project will focus primarily on the North End, South End, and Mason Square neighborhoods in Springfield, in addition to Metro Center. This is a great opportunity for MassBike to take the technical assistance offered through our Bikeable Communities Program and apply it to the fourth largest city in New England.

The whole MassBike team is looking forward to engaging in this work. We see Springfield specifically, but more generally the whole of Hampden County, as a prime area to encourage more biking and walking. With a solid pre-war urban development style in the downtown area, and a number of educational institutions, large employers, and cultural amenities within a few mile radius of the City Hall, possibilities abound for improving biking and walking infrastructure.

Ultimately, however, this must be a community-driven project. MassBike is here to help the community craft a vision for itself - what the streets look like, what connections need to be prioritized, and what obstacles are most important to overcome. With the Pioneer Valley Chapter in place and a new full-time on-the-ground Program Associate based in Springfield (more on him to come), we are equipping ourselves to better understand that vision and help the community achieve it. Stay tuned for updates on this exciting project in the months to come!


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