Upcoming Lecture: Professor John Pucher - Promoting Cycling and Walking for Sustainable Cities (10/15)

Come see see Professor John Pucher lecture on Promoting Cycling and Walking for Sustainable Cities: Lessons from Europe and North America. Professor Pucher has especially tailored the talk to include many specific examples of good and bad walking and cycling conditions in the Boston Area.  He will also show several Excel graphics and GIS maps with the latest available information on levels of walking and cycling in different parts of the Boston/Cambridge Metro area and comparative graphics showing how Boston compares to other cities in the USA and Canada.

This event is hosted by Harvard Graduate School of Planning and Design and the Harvard Kennedy School and co-sponsored by the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning, the Boston Cyclists Union, MassBike, WalkBoston, and the Livable Streets Alliance.

When: Oct 15, 2012 - 4:30 - 6pm

Where: Piper Auditorium, Gund Hall, 48 Quincy St. Cambridge, MA

About the Lecturer: John Pucher is a professor in the School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He has conducted research on a wide range of topics in transport economics and finance. For over three decades, he has examined differences in travel behavior, transport systems, and transport policies in Europe, Canada, the USA, and Australia. Over the past 15 years, Pucher’s research has focused on walking and bicycling. His research emphasizes walking and cycling for daily travel to increase physical activity and to enhance overall public health. Pucher has published three books and over 100 peer-reviewed articles in academic and professional journals. His latest book, “City Cycling” for MIT Press, provides an international overview of cycling trends and policies: http://citycyclingbook.wordpress.com

 

Check Out Our New Bikeability Report

[caption id="attachment_19780" align="alignleft" width="233"] Speed Limit Map of Colrain[/caption]

You might remember last month when two MassBike staff went to Greenfield to undertake a Bikeability Assessment. The purpose of the assessment was to feed into a regional Complete Streets Plan, which would lay the groundwork for improvements in Franklin County's streets. We were joined by ten local residents to help with the assessment, and gathered data on five key areas in Franklin County. You can find the full report here.

From our point of view, this was a successful event with community involvement and a solid product. Some of the key findings were:

  • Debris is a major issue on many of the roads, pushing bicyclists into travel lanes or forcing them to use sidewalks.

  • Shoulders on many of the roads are inconsistent, and totally non-existent in some spots. Having paved shoulders, designated as bike lanes if possible, is especially important in more rural areas where traffic may be traveling at higher speeds.

  • There was no bicycle parking recorded anywhere, even near city center of Greenfield.

  • There were a range of speed limits, but in general traffic was moving too fast for most people to be comfortable bicycling.

  • As is common in many rural areas, the intersections are designed to accommodate fast-turning traffic (Y-intersections, e.g.). These can be a danger to bicyclists and a barrier to biking.


From here, Franklin Regional Council of Governments will include our recommendations in the report being submitted to the regional planning agency. Beyond that, this report is a tangible example of how local residents can come together and impact their community. This report will inform future road improvements in these locations - it might not happen tomorrow, but when a road project comes up for Route 5/10/116 in S. Deerfield, we can point to this report to guide the decisions.

It is thanks to the support of Mass in Motion, a program of the Department of Public Health, that we were able to provide this technical assistance. We are excited to be using this opportunity to expand the local capacity to make change in our communities; by leveraging local energy, we can accomplish so much more together. Let us know if there is an opportunity to do a bikeability assessment in your community by emailing Price@MassBike.org.

Add Your Voice To MassDOT's Statewide Conversation

Starting this week, we have an opportunity to voice our support for bicycling as a statewide priority. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is holding a series of public meetings in the run up to creating their long range financing plan. This plan is going to dictate whether we continue on the 20th-century path of building ever more roads and bridges, or if we are going to invest in a balanced, multi-modal system. Your voice is going to make the difference.

You can see the schedule here to find a meeting near you (they are being held all over the state). While there are a few points we are listing below, we suggest the number one comment you can make is: Invest in a system that moves people, not cars.

Some other specific points could be:

  • Achieving the Commonwealth's greenhouse gas reduction goals depends on encouraging more biking and walking.

  • MassDOT needs to support healthier communities, since over one-fifth of our population is obese, as is one out of ten children.

  • Investing in biking and walking is the smarter choice; we just can't afford to keep building wider roads.

  • Give the people what they want! Polls across the country have shown that people want to bike more often, but they think the roads are too dangerous.


MassDOT has been a national leader over the past several years in their commitment to a multi-modal system; we need to thank them for their work so far, and push them to go even further. Bringing down unnecessary overpasses, adding bike facilities on bridges, and promoting Complete Streets have all been great accomplishments. But if we want to see complete networks of bicycle facilities in our lifetimes, the state needs to go even further. Your voice is needed to do that.

DCR Gets It Right - With A Little Help From Advocates

We are pleased to declare victory for bicyclists on two separate but related roadway access issues, on the Alewife Brook Parkway on the Arlington-Cambridge-Somerville line, and on the Mystic Valley Parkway in Arlington.

[caption id="attachment_19775" align="alignleft" width="169"] Narrow shoulders, wide lanes[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_19793" align="alignright" width="169"] New bike lanes in progress![/caption]

In late August, we discovered what appeared to be preliminary striping for very narrow shoulders and very wide travel lanes on the newly-repaved Mystic Valley Parkway in Arlington. As shown, those shoulders would not have been wide enough to qualify as bike lanes.  We immediately expressed our concern to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), and were quickly joined by other advocates who also noticed the problem. This was urgent, as paving and striping were ongoing. A flurry of emails and phone calls, and five days later we learned that DCR would stripe five-foot bike lanes - a big improvement. And those bike lanes are now installed! Many thanks to all the advocates for jumping on this right away, and to DCR for listening to us.

[caption id="attachment_19774" align="alignleft" width="179"] "No Bikes" signs went up ...[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_19794" align="alignright" width="189"] ... and finally came down![/caption]

The other problem involved some incorrect road signs and, surprisingly, considering there was no engineering or paint involved, took much longer to solve. Several months ago, we learned that "No Bikes" signs had appeared at intersections on the Alewife Brook Parkway, ostensibly banning bicyclists from riding on the road. This surprised us because we know that Massachusetts law gives bicyclists the right to use all public roads except for limited access or express highways (such as I-93 or I-95). Other bicyclists also noticed the signs and complained to neighboring municipalities. More emails and phone calls ensued, over a period of months, until two weeks ago, when we got the word that the signs would come down. And down they are.

For the record, we agree that the Alewife Brook Parkway is not a particularly good road for bicycling. Cars go too fast, and there is little or no shoulder so bicyclists must take the lane. The new Alewife Greenway offers an alternative, but some bicyclists prefer to ride in the road for a variety of reasons. We believe DCR acted to protect bicyclists, though we disagreed with their approach. The answer is not to remove bicycles from the road - it is to make the road safer for bicyclists. MassBike will continue to defend bicyclists right to use the road, and we have committed to working with state officials on future efforts to improve bicyclist safety on the parkway. Though we often have to be persistent, we are very lucky to have state agencies, like DCR, that value our opinion and, ultimately, agree with us.

 

 

Public Health Commissioner Resigns, Biking And Walking Lose A Champion

Most people have heard of the drug testing scandal that emerged out of the state crime lab a few weeks ago. The head of the state Department of Public Health, Commissioner John Auerbach, resigned in its wake. Unfortunately, the situation has implications for biking and walking in Massachusetts, because Commissioner Auerbach was one of our strongest supporters in state government. We recently wrote to the Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, expressing our concern, and urging her to appoint someone just as committed to active living:
Dear Dr. Bigby:

I wanted to express my concern over the departure of John Auerbach and your search for his successor. While I certainly understand the circumstances that led to his resignation, Commissioner Auerbach was a true champion for active living and sustainable transportation. Under his leadership, DPH has engaged in many programs to more effectively promote biking and walking, such as Mass In Motion, Communities Putting Prevention to Work, and most recently the Community Transformation Grant. MassBike has been a strong partner with DPH on all of these programs, which have made a real difference, particularly for people who live and work in areas where biking and walking is both most necessary and most challenging.

So as you begin to consider the next DPH Commissioner, I hope you will select someone who will continue to strongly support our mutual efforts to get more people living actively.

Thank you for your ongoing support!

David Watson
Executive Director
MassBike

We are encouraged that Secretary Bigby immediately responded and affirmed the Patrick Administration's ongoing support for the work begun on Commissioner Auerbach's watch. And we thank John Auerbach for making biking and walking an important part of the state's wellness programs.

Kickoff Fall With Bike Trainings!

Fall has officially arrived in the Bay State, which means changing leaves and crisp fresh air, perfect for outdoor activities. Why not kickoff this fall season with a bicycle education class?! If you need a little refresher course on the rules of the road, how to stay safe, riding skills, or just want to feel more comfortable getting from A to B, check out the classes below. We also want to point out that we are offering three more of our Bikeable Communities Trainings, which give an introduction to the process for making change in your community and an overview of the specific policies and infrastructure that supports bicycling.

Though these classes are all free and open to the public, we kindly ask you to register here. Just click on the date and time below for more class details. Stay safe and enjoy the beautiful fall weather while it lasts!

Biking For Everyone Workshops



Hubway Workshop
Tuesday, October 2, 6:00 – 7:00 PM
Boston Public Library Main Branch, McKim Conference Room

Basics of Better Biking (On-Bike Workshop)


Saturday, October 13, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Meets at the front entrance of South Station in Boston

Bikeable Communities Training (Part 1: Plugging Into The Process)



Wednesday, October 3, 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Metropolitan Area Planning Council, 3rd floor conference room
60 Temple Place, Boston

Bikeable Communities Training (Part 2: Policies, Programs, and Projects)


Monday, October 22, 6:00 – 8:30 PM
MassBike office, 171 Milk St., Boston

Wednesday, October 24, 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Metropolitan Area Planning Council, 3rd floor conference room
60 Temple Place, Boston

These classes are made possible through the generous support of the Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness. If you have any questions, please email Education@MassBike.org.

Volunteers Needed for MassBike Events!

We have a bunch of super fun events coming up soon (as early as this weekend) and we really need some help to make these events happen! We have lots of different types of volunteer opportunities so there is something for everyone. Volunteering with MassBike is a fun way to spend some time showing your support for better bicycling in Massachusetts!

RSVP to volunteer@massbike.org

 

Saturday September 22nd

TD Bank Mayors Cup - Boston



 

 

 

 

 

11am to 5:30pm
Take in some high speed bike racing and help spread the word about MassBike!

 

300th Anniversary of Lexington: Bike Parking - Lexington


 

 

 

 

10am to 5pm
Help park some bikes and celebrate the 300th anniversary of Lexington!

 

Sunday September 23rd

Hub On Wheels - Boston



 

 

 

9am to 2pm
Share the MassBike love and cheer on the riders as they pedal down a car free Storrow Drive!

 

Sunday September 30th

Yelp Helps: Hop To It! - Somerville



2pm to 9pm
The Yelp Helps: Hop To It! event marries greater Boston's finest craft brew with volunteer-powered NPOs to make a tasting/expo hybrid the world has never seen.
 

Sunday October 7th


Boston Local Food Festival - Boston



 

 

 

 

10:30am to 5:30pm
Help park bikes in our bike valet and spread the word about MassBike at this festival celebrating the joys of a healthy lifestyle!

We Did It! 2 Mile Challenge A Success!

During the month of August we asked you, our members, supporters, and the cycling community at large to rally together and log each bike trip they rode online for the ClifBar 2 Mile Challenge. The Challenge is designed as a fun, interactive way to get people onto their bikes while at the same time supporting grassroots advocacy - $1 for every trip logged, up to $10,000. During August, MassBike was the recipient of that donation.


We are pleased to announce that we reached our goal and have successfully logged 10,000 bike trips during the month of August on 2milechallenge.com! Riders from throughout Massachusetts and across the nation rode their bikes and logged their miles in support of the good work MassBike does to make cycling a safe, practical option for transportation and recreation throughout Massachusetts. Thank you to everyone who logged trips and to ClifBar for inviting MassBike to participate in this campaign. We really couldn’t have done it without you. No, really. This money is going to go to support our advocacy and education work, including programs like Bay State Bike Week, putting on the Bike/Walk Summit, and involvement on infrastructure projects like the Fore River Bridge. Basically, every trip you logged was an action to make Massachusetts better for biking. Happy riding!

Stay Safe, Take These Classes!

[caption id="attachment_19748" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Source: bikeyface.com[/caption]

We hope you made it safely through the (sometimes hectic) return of students to the Boston area. There are certainly a lot more cars on the road, a lot more pedestrians everywhere, and a lot more bicyclists trying to squeeze between other users, including other bicyclists. If you need a little refresher course on the rules of the road, how to stay safe, riding skills, or just want to feel more comfortable getting from A to B, check out the classes below. Though these classes are all free and open to the public, we kindly ask you to register here. Stay safe!

Biking For Everyone Workshops


Urban Cycling Workshop (Sponsored by the City of Newton and Harris Cyclery)
Thursday, September 7:00 – 8:00 PM
Newton City Hall, Room 202
1000 Commonwealth Ave, Newton

Hubway Workshop
Friday, September 14, 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Boston City Hall

Hubway Workshop
Tuesday, October 2, 6:00 – 7:00 PM
Boston Public Library Main Branch, McKim Conference Room
Boston

Basics of Better Biking (On-Bike Workshop)


Saturday, September 15, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Boston University
Meets at the Corner of Agganis Way and Commonwealth Avenue

Sunday, September 16, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Boston University
Meets at the Corner of Agganis Way and Commonwealth Avenue

These classes are made possible through the generous support of the Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness. If you have any questions, please email Education@MassBike.org.

Your Role In The Bicycle Revolution

[caption id="attachment_19746" align="alignright" width="231"] Click here for a copy of the companion document, "Shifting Gears".[/caption]

There are a lot of times here in the MassBike office that we get a familiar call. Our phone rings, and a concerned citizen starts telling the story of a terrible road, dangerous intersection, bad enforcement, or any number of other barriers that keep them from bicycling. And the question inevitably follows, "So, what should I do?"

What's more, we know that for every one of these calls we get there are dozens of others who don't call our office but are thinking the exact same thing. In response, we have put together our two-part Bikeable Communities Training, which gets to the heart of that critical question - "What should I do?" The first part of the training, "Plugging into the Process" goes over how local advocates can get involved. The second part, "Policies, Programs, and Projects," provides an overview of the different ways that a community can encourage bicycling.

The classes are free and open to the public, though registration is required. You can register here. See below for the class schedule, and feel free to email Education@MassBike.org if you have any questions.

Part One, “Plugging Into The Process”


Tuesday, September 18, 6:00 – 8:30 PM
Boston Public Library Main Branch, McKim Conference Room
Boston

Wednesday, September 19, 6:30 - 9:00 PM
Collaborative for Educational Services
97 Hawley St, Northampton

Wednesday, October 3, 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Metropolitan Area Planning Council, 3rd Floor Conference Room
60 Temple Place, Boston

Part Two, “Policies, Programs and Projects”


Tuesday, September 25, 6:00 – 8:30 PM
MassBike Office
171 Milk Street, Suite 33
Boston, MA

Wednesday, October 24, 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Metropolitan Area Planning Council, 3rd Floor Conference Room
60 Temple Place, Boston

These trainings are made possible thanks to the generous support of the Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness and Mass in Motion.


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