MassBike Speaks Up In The Transportation Conversations

Beginning in September, MassDOT has held a series of "conversations" all over the state to hear what the public has to say about the future of transportation in Massachusetts. MassBike has been working hard to "get out the vote" for bicycling (so to speak) by sending targeted emails to our supporters who live in the area around each meeting location. And you responded - we have consistently heard that bicyclists are showing up and talking about our issues - thank you!

Program Manager Price Armstrong and I both spoke at the MassDOT Conversations, I in Boston on November 29, Price at Lynn City Hall on December 5 (which, incidentally, was also attended by Senator Thomas McGee, Co-chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation). Take a look at what we had to say. If you didn't get a chance to attend a meeting, you can submit comments by email.

I am David Watson, Executive Director of MassBike, the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, the statewide bicyclist advocacy group. MassBike is a member of the Transportation for Massachusetts coalition because we want Massachusetts to fully fund a transportation system that works for everyone, including bicyclists.

Thanks to Secretary Davey and his team at MassDOT for giving the public this opportunity to provide input into the future of our transportation system. MassDOT has made great progress over the past few years in recognizing the importance of bicycling and walking, with the Complete Streets principles embodied in the Project Development and Design Guide, with the Healthy Transportation Compact recognizing the need for agencies to work together to enable more people to bike and walk, and most recently with the new GreenDOT Mode Shift goals to triple the share of biking, walking, and transit by 2030. But it is not enough. We need a transportation system focused on moving people, not cars.

Today, I got to work by riding my bike on a bike path, to a transit station where I locked my bike in a secure bike parking facility, took the subway downtown, and walked to my office (I would have taken Hubway instead of walking, but the system closed for the winter yesterday). I could just as easily have taken one of several buses to a T station, walked to the T, or even driven my car downtown. I am lucky to have so many transportation choices, but many people do not, and we cannot settle for a transportation system that fails to provide an acceptable level of service and range of options for so many, while still prioritizing motor vehicle travel above all else. We need a transportation system that moves people, not cars.

But this discussion is not just about transportation choice. We have commitments to protect the environment and the health of our citizens. MassDOT cannot meet the Commonwealth's greenhouse gas reduction requirements without getting more people biking and walking. One-fifth of our population is obese, as is one out of ten children, and that should be unacceptable to all of us. Too many people miss out on economic and educational opportunities for lack of safe, affordable, and convenient transportation. Numerous polls and studies have shown that people want to bike and walk more but feel it is unsafe. We cannot solve these problems with our current transportation system.

So how do we get there?

  • MassDOT must embed the mode shift goals into everything the agency does, and into every project the agency undertakes.

  • MassDOT and the 13 Metropolitan Planning Organizations must evaluate every project through the lens of mode shift when deciding which projects to fund.

  • MassDOT and the MPOs must create financial incentives to encourage cities and towns to propose projects that advance the mode shift goals.


MassDOT must meet its mode shift goals if we are to have a transportation system that moves people, not cars. MassBike looks forward to working with MassDOT to achieve those goals.


My name is Price Armstrong, and I am the Program Manager at the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition. First, I want to thank Secretary Davey for his leadership in establishing the recently announced mode shift goals, which seek to triple biking, walking and transit use over the next 18 years. I also want to thank Senator Thomas McGee for his many years of leadership on transportation issues, and his continued work to invest in a balanced transportation system in Massachusetts.

One thing I've learned as I work on transportation projects is that they take a really, really long time to go from an idea to construction. One rail trail can take 15 to 20 years to get built, and those are relatively simple projects. Major projects, like highway interchanges, road expansions, or intersection redesigns can be in the works for 20 years or more. A question that we in the advocacy community have come to is, do these projects which were conceived of and designed literally decades ago still serve our transportation goals and vision today?

What I would like to see is a fresh look taken at projects in the pipeline to see if they still line up with our mode shift goals, land use plans, the Healthy Transportation Compact, and GreenDOT. Some projects may be too far along in the process for it to be practical to reconsider whether or not to build them, like for example if it has already been let out to bid. But for those projects still in the design phase, it is crucial that they line up with our established goals. Whatever we build today is going to be with us for decades, so it's important to get it right.

We can't continue building roads the way we have for the past fifty years if we're going to have a transportation system that moves people, not cars. I hope that MassBike can work with you to ensure that what we build today matches up with our vision of tomorrow.

Another Tragedy Saddens, Strengthens Our Resolve

We are saddened and troubled by yesterday's death of Christopher Weigl, the BU graduate student killed in a collision with a tractor trailer. Our thoughts are with his family and friends, and the wider community of cyclists. This tragedy, only weeks after another BU student was killed by an MBTA bus, calls for us to redouble our efforts to prevent such needless losses. We do not yet know exactly what happened, or what might have prevented it, but we do know that we need better infrastructure and more safety education for all roadway users. Conscious of the risks posed to bicyclists by large vehicles, MassBike has been working with MBTA bus drivers, and urging MassDOT to adapt the new bus driver training for the Regional Transportation Authorities statewide, and for the RMV's Commercial Drivers License program for all truck drivers. For now, please be particularly cautious when riding near trucks or buses, and especially avoiding passing to the right of big vehicles.

Winter Membership Drive: Join MassBike And Get Awesome Member Benefits

Joining MassBike and supporting our advocacy efforts to make biking better here in Massachusetts is a great benefit in and of itself. MassBike works hard every day to make a real difference in the lives of bicyclists throughout Massachusetts. We are your voice at the table with state agencies, legislators, regional planning agencies, and our congressional delegation. But did you know that MassBike members get amazing member benefits in addition to joining MassBike? As a MassBike member you have access to a ton of great member benefits including:

  • Discounts at over 40 bike shops across Massachusetts

  • Discounts on MassBike events and rides

  • Discounts from many community business partners like ZipCar

  • Subscription to the bi-monthly MassBike e-newsletter, The Quick Release

  • Up-to-date information on current bicycle advocacy issues and how you can take action on them


And new benefits are coming on board all the time. Most recently BikeFlights.com became the newest addition to the MassBike member benefits program; they offer MassBike members a 15% discount on all purchases through their online store. Next time you are traveling with your bike, check out BikeFlights.com to save on your shipping needs.

Join MassBike during our Winter Membership Drive and score all these wonderful member benefits for yourself! For the next five days (December 3rd – December 7th) we are offering our 1 year individual and 1 year family memberships at a discounted rate ($10 off).

To sweeten the deal each new member who joins during the drive will receive a free MassBike water bottle.  Join the movement today - together we can make better bicycling in Massachusetts a reality!

Winter Membership Drive: Join MassBike To Make Bicycling Safer In Your Community

Have you seen a bike lane on your recent commute? New bike parking? Want to see more? Join MassBike today to support better biking across Massachusetts!

Much of what MassBike does day-to-day isn’t terribly visible. It’s attending public meetings and testifying at public hearings, reviewing budget notes and teaching bike safety classes. But it is because we spend the thousands of hours doing this behind-the-scenes advocacy work that biking continues to become a safer, more accessible and practical choice for transportation and recreation. However, we are dependent on the financial support of bicyclists statewide to continue this work. To sustain our advocacy efforts, MassBike is launching a Winter Membership Drive this week, December 3rd-December 7th.

For the next five days we are offering our 1 year individual and 1 year family memberships at a discounted rate ($10 off).

To sweeten the deal each new member who joins during the drive will receive a free MassBike water bottle.  Join the movement today; together we can make better bicycling in Massachusetts a reality!

Winter Membership Drive: Help Us Get More Kids And Adults On Bikes, Join MassBike

Every year, MassBike teaches thousands of children and adults throughout Massachusetts how to safely ride their bikes. With our wide range of bike safety classes, we educate riders of all ages and abilities, but we couldn’t do it without the support of our members.

Help us get more kids and adults on bikes, join MassBike during our Winter Membership Drive.

For the next five days (December 3rd – December 7th) we are offering our 1 year individual and 1 year family memberships at a discounted rate ($10 off).

To sweeten the deal each new member who joins during the drive will receive a free MassBike water bottle.  Join the movement today; together we can make better bicycling in Massachusetts a reality!

Join MassBike During Our Winter Membership Drive And Help Make Your Community More Bikeable

This year has been huge for MassBike's role in local advocacy.

We launched our Bikeable Communities Program, through which we have engaged scores of local advocates to help them make their community better for biking. In Northampton and Boston, we offered the Bikeable Communities Training, a two-part class that goes over the planning process and how to effectively plug into that process. We also have undertaken Bikeability Assessments in Franklin County and the Pioneer Valley, teaching volunteers how to use the audit tool we created and then drafting reports based on the findings. And we are involved in a few planning activities around Massachusetts, helping municipal officials develop strategies for how best to plan for biking.

But we've barely gotten started. Help us expand our bike advocacy trainings and help increase local capacity to improve bicycling conditions across Massachusetts. 

For the next five days (December 3rd – December 7th) we are offering our 1 year individual and 1 year family memberships at a discounted rate ($10 off). Join the movement today; together we can make better bicycling in Massachusetts a reality!

Just In Time For The Holidays Get Your MassBike Jersey

Back by popular demand, we have just made a new run of our MassBike Jersey. You may remember a few months ago when we originally launched these jerseys. They were handmade in Northampton, supported local bicycle advocacy, and were pretty darn good looking to boot.



We're happy to announce that they were such a big hit we decided to order some more. Same great quality, same great cause, and still locally made.

This second run is made possible thanks to Sam Adams (another great local company) graciously stepping up as the official sponsor of our jerseys. These beauties are now available just in time for the holidays in our online store and at the Sam Adams Brewery. All jersey proceeds from our online store go to making the biking safer and more enjoyable here in Massachusetts.  Members save $15 and can pick one up for only $70.

Cyber Monday Madness: MassBike Holiday Sale Starts!



Do you need a gift for that picky cyclist in your family? Or maybe a friend who wants to buy locally-produced apparel that also supports bike advocacy, oh, and looks pretty good, too. Or are you starting to get multiple text messages from your mother to drop some "holiday hints"?

Relax. We've got it covered.

With a large inventory of t-shirts, cycling apparel and accessories we are your one stop shop for all your holiday gift needs.  As a special gift to you we are offering FREE shipping during the holiday season and 10% off maps with promo code HOLIDAY2012, in addition to the deep discount that members already get on all MassBike merchandise.  So check out the MassBike online store and be sure to pick up a water bottle, t-shirt, jersey, or map today!

Another great, tax-deductible gift option for the bike-loving person or family in your life is to purchase a MassBike Gift Membership. Membership costs just $35 and gives the recipient access to tons of special member benefits.

Still not sure what to give, think about giving the best gift of all – a better place for biking. Click here to make a donation to MassBike in honor of the cyclists in your life. Your contribution will help us to keep working hard to make the roads a little friendlier for you and your loved ones.

 

Advocates Improving Intersections In Hampshire County

[caption id="attachment_19935" align="alignleft" width="300"] Bay Road and West Street in Amherst[/caption]

Last weekend, a dozen volunteers braved the chilly New England Fall weather to work on making intersections in Northampton and Amherst better for bicyclists. Through a partnership with the Hampshire Council of Governments, and thanks to our partnership with Mass in Motion, we were able to come out and train local bicyclists how to use the assessment form, what to think about when assessing the intersections, and the most important things to document. Then we set them loose!

Did you miss the assessment last weekend? Don't worry! We are going to be doing a second round of intersection assessments this coming weekend to hit the spots we couldn't get to. If you would like to help out, send an email to me at Price@MassBike.org. The times are listed at the bottom of the page. We'll also be in Belchertown on Monday from 11 - 1, if you have time to help out.

The Pioneer Valley is fortunate to have a MassBike Chapter, whose members serve on numerous local and regional advisory boards. They also have on-the-ground knowledge about the bicyclist experience, and important community connections to round up volunteers for activities just like this. Since June, we have taught both of our Bikeable Communities Trainings, taught Springfield youth on how to do Bikeability Assessments, and begun assisting Holyoke in expanding their bicycle infrastructure.

If you would like to help out this weekend, please do! And bring friends - the more boots (or tires) on the ground, the more intersections we can assess.

Northampton
Saturday, November 10th
Meet at the Forbes Library
1:00-4:00pm

Amherst
Sunday, November 11th
Meet at the Jones Library
1:00-4:00pm

Belchertown
Monday, November 12th
Meet at the Clapp Memorial Library
11:00am-1:00pm

Raising A New Generation Of Safe Bicyclists In Revere

[caption id="attachment_19930" align="alignleft" width="300"] Instructor Galen Mook teaching proper helmet use.[/caption]

Revere has long been known for its beach (the oldest public beach in the country), but we expect that it will soon be known for the incredibly good bicyclists that populate its streets. Starting this past Monday and running through next Wednesday, MassBike is teaching all the 4th and 5th grade students at Whelan Elementary basic bike safety, including the rules of the road, proper helmet use, and how to stay visible after dark. By the end of next week, we will have reached almost 300 students.

This is coming none too soon. Thanks to our efforts supporting expanded bike access on the Blue Line, it's easier than ever to get into Boston with your bike from the North Shore. Furthermore, Bike to the Sea is making steady progress pushing the Northern Strand Community Trail closer to completion, which will be a major destination on the North Shore for bicyclists of all ages. And with childhood obesity on the rise, getting our kids active is rising to the top of our priority list as a state and nation.

This work complements other efforts being undertaken in Revere and in communities around the state to increase trips made by bicycle. While these classes are supported through our partnership with MassRIDES and WalkBoston's Safe Routes to School Program in Revere, we are looking forward to continued work expanding bicycling opportunities in Revere through our work with Mass in Motion.

Even though we're especially proud of the intensive education we're undertaking in Revere, we also teach in other communities around the state. Just this fall we have been to Danvers and Canton, and are scheduled to teach classes in Framingham and Arlington. If you are interested in getting classes scheduled in a Middle School or Elementary School in your community, contact Education@MassBike.org or give us a call at (617) 542-2453.


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