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.

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!

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.

Donate Join Volunteer
Accept Credit Cards