ACTION ALERT: Bike Safety Bills Need Your Support

In January, we filed two bills with the Massachusetts State Legislature, and we just found out that the bills are going to be heard in committee next Wednesday. We need your help to get these bills moving! The bills are:

  •  The Act To Protect Vulnerable Road Users (S 1639) adds protections to bicyclists, pedestrians, wheelchair users, and other vulnerable users of the road. It gives law enforcement more flexibility to impose more severe penalties for dangerous driving. (Click here for the full text of the bill.)

  • The Act To Protect Bicyclists In Bicycle Lanes (S 1640) prohibits motor vehicles from parking in bike lanes. (Click here for the full text of the bill.)


The first hearing on these bills before the Committee on Transportation is scheduled for Wednesday, June 26, 2013, at 10:00 AM, in State House Room B-1.

We hope you are able to join MassBike at the hearing to tell your story, and to urge the Joint Committee on Transportation to report favorably on these two bills. This is the second legislative session for the Vulnerable Road Users Bill, and the first hearing ever for the Bike Lane Bill. For more information on the bills, please see our Legislative Fact Sheet.

If you are unable to attend next week's hearing, we ask you to do the following:

  1. Send an email or write a letter to the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Transportation-Senator McGee (Email) and Representative Straus (Email)-and ask that they act favorably on these bills.

  2. Call or email your State Senator and State Representative and ask that they tell the Joint Committee on Transportation Chairs to act favorably on these bills.

  3. Cc Action@MassBike.org on all your emails, or send us a message telling us who you contacted.


Don't know who your legislators are? Find out here.

We were able to educate a lot of legislators about this legislation at the Bike/Walk Summit, so we think we are in a good position to move this legislation forward. We need your help again to get this legislation rolling.  As always, we couldn't do it without you.

Get Your Tickets For Bike Night 2013 By June 4th!



Bike Night: From The Bikeway To The Runway is Friday, June 7th! But ticket sales end Tuesday, June 4th, and tickets will not be available at the door. Act right now to reserve your seat at Boston's only cycling gala and fashion show! Support MassBike's statewide advocacy and education programs helping more people ride bikes more safely, and be part of the Massachusetts cycling community's signature event:

  • Free bike valet parking

  • A personal professional photo of you in all your finery

  • 2 free libations courtesy of Sam Adams, Bacardi, Grey Goose and Robert Mondavi

  • Sumptuous hors d'oeuvres

  • Divine 3-course dinner

  • Our famous Cycling Fashion Show

  • Dozens of raffle prizes

  • Amazing silent auction items


Ticket sales absolutely end Tuesday or as soon as we sell out. Get your ticket now!

Bay State Bike Week Pictures, Flyers & More!



We have wrapped up another successful Bay State Bike Week. With 175 events across the state and an estimated 13,000 participants, this was a hugely successful year. We had events from the Cape to the Berkshires ranging from bike breakfasts to races and rodeos to film screenings.

What we need are pictures, flyers, and any other media you can send our way to post on our social media and the next newsletter! Please send any thing to BayStateBikeWeek@MassBike.org. Also let us know any photo credits or captions to add.

Finally, if you want to keep the fun going all summer, check out the National Bike Challenge. This allows you to log your miles through September and gives the opportunity to win prizes. MassBike is the local partner for Massachusetts, and we hope to show the rest of the country what a bunch of bike nuts we really are! Click here to register.

Register For The National Bike Challenge & Win!

MassBike is happy to present the National Bike Challenge in Massachusetts. We are joining the other 50 states and the District of Columbia in this national contest to see which state can bike the most. The National Bike Challenge is sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists in partnership with Kimberly-Clark. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to keep the momentum of the MassCommute Bicycle Challenge through the rest of the September.

Register today!


This is a very exciting opportunity for the Bay State. We have seen an explosion of interest in bicycling across the state, and this is our opportunity to show the rest of the country what a bunch of bike-nuts we really are. Don't be ashamed of that 100-mile bike ride you did the other day just for fun - log it!

For a step-by-step process for registering for the National Bike Challenge, click here. That page shows you how to register for Endomondo (the website the drives the Challenge) and how to create teams within your workplace or school. You can also register as an individual. If you have any questions, contact BikeInfo@MassBike.org.

Bicycling Community Supports the One Fund

MassBike is proud to join Jerry Remy's Sports Bar & Grill and our partners from around the Boston bicycling community in announcing our support for "Two Wheels, One Fund," a benefit to support The One Fund and victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Next Thursday, May 16th, from 6pm to close, join MassBike for an evening of dinner, drinks and live music at Jerry Remy's near Fenway Park. Red Bull Media will also premiere its new mountain biking film, "Where the Trail Ends," during the benefit.

All guests will have access to the full dinner buffet, movie screening and a cash bar. MassBike is also providing complimentary bike valet parking! There are three ticketing options for supporters, with 100% of ticket sales benefitting The One Fund's support for bombing victims and their families.

$20.00 Available to guests who enter between 6-7pm


$50.00 Guests will receive a $25 Jerry Remy's gift card


$100.00 Guests will receive a $50 Jerry Remy's gift card and custom event t-shirt


Tickets are available on the benefit page. Reserve your spot today at this incredible event that brings the whole New England bike community together for a worthy cause.



Comments on the Arlington Improvements to the Minuteman Bikeway

MassDOT and the Town of Arlington are moving ahead with the Arlington Center Safe Travel Project, which would redesign the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Pleasant Street, and Mystic Street in Arlington. The aim of the project, which has been in the works since spring 2011, is to develop a connection for the Minuteman Bikeway at this busy and often hectic intersection, while improving safety and mobility for all users but particularly bicyclists and pedestrians.


On April 23, MassDOT held a public hearing for comments on the 25% design. At the hearing, MassBike Executive Director David Watson praised the project's aim to further the mobility and safety of all users of the intersection. In the spirit of discussion and given MassBike's expertise in promoting safe cycling across the Commonwealth, David also offered specific suggestions that would drastically improve the design's functionality. His comments center around the  particular needs of the less experienced, vulnerable bicyclists who frequent the Minuteman Bikeway.

Below is the letter MassBike sent to MassDOT Chief Engineer Thomas Broderick, summarizing David's thoughts on pursuing a design that promotes safety above all while keeping an eye to the convenience of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike.

 

----------------

Subject: Comments on Arlington Intersection Improvements, Project #606885

 

Dear Mr. Broderick:

I am writing both on behalf of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike) and myself as an Arlington resident. MassBike is the statewide bicyclist advocacy group, promoting a bicycle-friendly environment and encouraging bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation. This letter summarizes the comments I made at the public hearing on April 23, 2013.

First, I would like to thank MassDOT and the Town of Arlington for pursuing this project to improve this extraordinarily busy and complicated intersection. Everyone who has observed the operation of this intersection knows that it presents significant safety and mobility issues for all users - motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike, but most especially users of the Minuteman Bikeway. Both MassDOT and Arlington have demonstrated their ongoing support for biking and walking.

The proposed design includes 5-foot bikes lanes adjacent to 7-foot parking lanes on both sides of Massachusetts Avenue, a signalized bicycle crossing at Swan Place, and extension of the bikeway through Uncle Sam Park adjacent to the sidewalk. All of these improvements are within acceptable design standards, but my concern is that they do not go far enough to significantly improve bicyclist safety and mobility.

People riding bicycles on the Minuteman Bikeway have already made the important choice that they do not want to ride in the roadway with traffic. While some ride the Minuteman for convenience (e.g., to access Alewife Station), many more use it because they do not feel safe or comfortable riding in traffic. The Minuteman is a destination unto itself, one of the most-used rail trails in the United States, even drawing people who drive to Arlington or the other communities along the path for the sole purpose of riding their bikes on the Minuteman. It is a popular destination for families bicycling with their children, often very young children just learning how to ride. All of these people have chosen not to ride on the road, yet these are the very people the proposed design directs into on-road bicycle facilities that meet only the bare minimum standards for the safety of even experienced bicyclists.

In order to attract bicyclists on the Minuteman to use the new facilities, they must both very safe and very convenient. The proposed design is neither, requiring bicyclists to ride in traffic and make two-stage crossings.

While minimum-width facilities are certainly acceptable from a design perspective, particularly in constrained spaces, and adequately serve bicyclists who have chosen to ride in the roadway, such facilities do not adequately serve bicyclists who do not want to ride in traffic. These are the least experienced, most vulnerable bicyclists. Yet the proposed design would have them cross busy streets, enter the traffic flow, and ride in minimum-width bike lanes adjacent to parking where they are at risk for being doored.

When working to enhance the safety and mobility of all users in constrained space, it is essential to find the right balance between the safety and needs of all user groups. As currently proposed, the design does not find that balance. Instead, it squeezes all roadway dimensions down to bare minimums in order to shoehorn bike lanes without impacting motor vehicle capacity or parking at all. That is not balance - that is continuing the historic prioritization of motor vehicles over all other users, with bicyclists and pedestrians left on the margins. This is inconsistent with the context-sensitive approach of the MassDOT Project Development and Design Guide, with Complete Streets requirements of the Healthy Transportation Compact, with current federal policy on bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and with the Mode Shift goals of the GreenDOT policy.

While minimum bicycle facilities are acceptable in many contexts, here, in the unique situation created by the discontinuous Minuteman Bikeway, more is required to actually meet the project's safety and mobility goals. During the design process, alternatives were discussed that would have provided for greater separation from traffic for bicyclists making the Minuteman connection. Among these alternatives were a two-way cycletrack on the south side of Massachusetts Avenue and a "cross bike" or diagonal crossing through the Route 60 intersection, which together would create an almost continuous protected connection between the two sections of the bikeway. I urge MassDOT and the Town to reexamine these and other concepts to provide greater protection for bicyclists.

The primary reason that more-protected bicycle facilities cannot fit in the current design is the retention of on-street parking between Swan Place and Route 60. I completely understand the concerns of the business community and nearby residents about these parking spaces. But we are weighing the convenience of motorists against the safety of bicyclists, and it seems clear that known, significant safety concerns outweigh a handful of parking spaces in this context. With the extra seven feet available if those spaces are removed, many better options for bicyclists become possible, such as the two-cycletrack, buffered bike lanes, or simply wider bike lanes.

I also appreciate the safety concerns and complexity of the cross bike idea. But there is a strong desire line for bicyclists (and pedestrians) to make this movement, and many people do so today during the left turn signal phase from Route 60 to Massachusetts Avenue. The proposed design does nothing to protect or legitimize this movement, instead continuing the current situation requiring bicyclists to cross twice, in two signal phases, to make the Minuteman connection or simply continue onto Massachusetts Avenue. This inherently creates conflicts between bicyclists and pedestrians in the crosswalks, and those conflicts need to be addressed, perhaps with separate bicycle and pedestrians zones at the crossings, regardless of whether a cross bike is implemented.

I support MassDOT and Arlington in their efforts to make this difficult intersection safer for everyone, but I think we need to do better for bicyclists than the proposed design. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this project, and I look forward to working with the project team to meet the project goals.

 

Very truly yours,

David Watson
Executive Director
MassBike

Bay State Bike Week Starts May 11!


Just around the corner is a statewide celebration of two-wheeled, human-powered transportation: Bay State Bike Week! Be sure to check out this year's calendar of events so that you don't miss out on the free breakfasts, t-shirts and other swag, and fun rides that make this week a truly unique time for Massachusetts cyclists!

There are more than 120 events planned statewide for the nine days of Bay State Bike Week 2013. Here's a sampling from across the Commonwealth:

Be sure to sign up for the MassCommute Bicycle Challenge if you haven't already. Organizations and companies of all sizes compete against one another to rack up the most miles and trips biked during the week through this site. This year there are also individual awards in categories like "Fearless Commuter" and "Bicycle Love Story."

A big thanks goes out to our partners at MassDOT and MassRIDES for helping to make this event possible, and to the scores of event organizers who make this possible. Let's make the 2013 Bay State Bike Week the biggest and best ever!

MassBike Is Hiring!

We are excited to announce two great job opportunities. We are hiring a part-time Bike Safety Instructor for the Boston area and a Project Coordinator based in Springfield, Massachusetts. If you or anyone you know would be interested in either of these positions, please send in an application. We are expecting to close the hiring process within a few weeks, so you'll need to act quickly.

Bike Safety Instructor

Our Instructors deliver the bike safety education for our Education Program. We currently have four instructors located around the state, but are looking for an additional instructor for the Boston Metro area. The key to this position is having a flexible schedule, as many of the classes we teach are during the day, though occasionally on nights or weekends. Ideal candidates will have teaching experience and are intimately familiar with bicyclist issues. Time commitment will only rarely exceed 20 hours per month. To see the job description, click here.

Project Coordinator

We are searching for a top-notch candidate to help the City of Springfield build its bicycle and pedestrian network. The Project Coordinator is a full-time position based in Springfield that will work closely with staff from the City and from the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. An ideal candidate would have a Master's Degree and a minimum one year of experience, or two to four years of experience doing related work. Spanish language skills and familiarity with or residency in Springfield a HUGE plus. To see the job description, click here.

Christina Clarke Genco Mother’s Day Memorial Ride

The second annual Christina Clarke Genco Mother’s Day Memorial Ride will be held on May 12, 2013 to support the Christina Clarke Genco Foundation. The memorial ride commemorates Christina Genco, who was tragically killed in June 2011 while on a cross-country cycling trip to raise funds for affordable housing groups like Habitat for Humanity.

Registration for the Christina Clarke Genco Mother's Day Memorial Ride is $40, and can be completed online. Funds raised in the memorial ride will support projects within each of the Foundation's target categories: 1) Affordable Housing; 2) Safe Biking; and 3) Women’s Lacrosse Scholarship.

Join us for a day of fun, filled with food, music, prizes and the joy of giving back to the community. This day is designed for families and elite cyclists alike, with bike routes including 3.4, 17, 34, and 68 miles.  These route distances reflect the number 34 in honor of Christina’s lacrosse jersey number.  A safe biking clinic will also be provided.

Want to learn more? Email ccgfoundation@gmail.com.

Longfellow Bridge Construction: Progress, But Questions Remain

MassDOT recently held a public meeting with the firm selected to perform the reconstruction of the Longfellow Bridge, scheduled to start in earnest later this year and continue until 2016. Click here to see the April 9th meeting presentation.

Originally, MassDOT intended to detour all Cambridge-bound motor vehicle and bicycle traffic for the duration of the project, but MassBike and other advocates made a strong case to maintain two-way bicycle travel. For people riding just a few miles under their own power, a detour of a mile or more would discourage people from bicycling, at a time when we should be doing everything possible to shift people from driving to other biking, walking, or transit.

Thankfully, MassDOT listened, and the plan now is to maintain two-way bicycle travel, throughout construction - even though car traffic to Cambridge will be detoured the entire time! Construction will occur in several phases to permit work on different parts of the bridge, and during each phase the lane configuration will shift positions. Most of the time, bicyclists will enjoy dedicated bike lanes, though sometimes will share sidewalk space with pedestrians. We understand the very tight space constraints during construction, and we thank MassDOT for doing the best they can for bicyclists.

We are concerned, however, with the connections to local roadways and the Charles River paths on both sides of the river, both during and after construction. No plans have been shown for how those connections will work, especially as the lane configuration on the bridge shifts from side to side. These connections, especially in Charles Circle on the Boston side, and to the paths on the Cambridge side, are already challenging without the added complexity of construction. The project engineers do not seem to have a plan for involving advocates in these all-important designs, which could compromise bicyclist and pedestrian (and motorist) safety. Click here to see MassBike's formal comment letter to MassDOT.

We hope (and have requested) that MassDOT will continue the collaborative effort that led to the current design for the bridge as the designs for these critical connections move forward.

Though it was not the focus of this hearing, it should be noted that bicycle and pedestrian advocates, including MassBike, continue to encourage MassDOT to rethink the Boston-bound side of the bridge to better provide for future bicyclist and pedestrian needs.


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