[caption id="attachment_18470" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Jackie and Kara (LivableStreets Alliance) and Jess (MAPC) "][/caption]
As we've been posting over the past several months, the transportation funding situation in DC is abysmal. The Senate put together a bill that, while it largely preserves funding for biking and walking, includes a modest reduction from current spending levels and increases the competition for the funding. Meanwhile, advocates defeated a House attempt to pass a bill eliminating bike funding. This week, the House has proposed a 60-day extension, further delaying passage of a new transportation bill. It was against this backdrop that advocates from around the country came to the nation's capital to talk with their members of Congress and their staffs to make the case on the importance of investments in biking and walking.
We in the MassBike office were working hard literally up until the last minute coordinating meetings with Congressional staffers to make sure that every office met with someone from Massachusetts. In the end, we were able to meet with two members of Congress (Ed Markey and James McGovern) and staff from the other ten offices. You can see pictures from the summit here.
[caption id="attachment_18472" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Congressman Ed Markey (center) with advocates"][/caption]
This year we had 15 event participants from across the state, including professional advocates, local businesses, and citizens that just care about better biking in their communities. The delegation included:
|Jackie Douglas||Livable Streets Alliance|
|Richard Fries||Bikes Belong|
|Tom Henry||Landry's Bicycles|
|Jack Johnson||Landry's Bicycles|
|Tim Johnson||Team Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com|
|Dorothy Nichols||Todson (Topeak)|
|Kara Oberg||LivableStreets Alliance|
|Don Podolski||New Horizons Sports|
|Jeff Roth||Local Advocate|
|John Siemiatkoski||LAB, MassBike|
|David Wilcox||Bikes Not Bombs, Broadway Bicycle School|
Unlike some other states, Massachusetts is fortunate to have a Congressional delegation that is very supportive of biking and walking. In fact, we presented Senator Scott Brown with a National Bicycle Leadership Award from the League of American Bicyclists (see picture below). We urged our members of Congress to convince their colleagues to support biking and walking, and offered whatever help we could to enable their advocacy in the Capitol. We look forward to continuing to work with our Congressional delegation to promote biking and walking at the federal level while local advocates push on the ground to turn federal support into off-road paths, bike lanes, intersection improvements, and signage that makes the streets safer for all users.
[caption id="attachment_18471" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="David Watson Presenting Award To Karalyn O'Brien, Senator Brown's Transportation Aide"][/caption]
In the meantime, we are going to be shifting our attention to the upcoming Massachusetts Bike/Walk Summit, in which we will be asking advocates from across the state to come to Beacon Hill to let their state legislators know how very important biking and walking in their community is. This event takes place on Thursday, May 17th and is the central MassBike event for Bay State Bike Week. If you would like to attend, please RSVP by clicking here.
Finally, in order for us to undertake our federal and state advocacy, we need the support of groups and citizens who want to see better biking in Massachusetts. Please consider joining or donating to MassBike today so that we can keep advocating to key decision makers for years to come.
A big part of advocacy is explaining to our elected officials why biking and walking is important in our communities. The numbers are easy to come up with - just look at this slick infographic created by Bikes Belong. What we need, though, are the personal stories about the difference that biking has made in your life here in Massachusetts. We made a good start with our "And I Ride" series, but we need more. Whether it's a childhood memory, thoughts on the importance of particular pieces of infrastructure, or anything in between we want to hear what you have to say!
Once we've collected the personal stories, the MassBike staff is going to choose the top three winners. The stories will be used during the upcoming Massachusetts Bike/Walk Summit to help communicate the importance of active transportation to our state legislators. We are also planning on starting a database with these stories for future use when we talk to elected officials across the state and in congress.
The best story will win a $50 gift certificate to the Cambridge Brewing Company, second place will win a Nite Rider Mako 3.0 light set, and third place will win a Resource Revival bottle opener, and the top three stories will be featured on MassBike's website.
If you have a story you want to share, please do the following:
- Make sure the story is no longer than 300 words.
- Make sure it focuses on biking or walking and the impact it has had on your life. The stronger the emotional appeal, the better!
- Include the name of your state representative and senator (found at this site)
- Attach a photo of yourself or related to the story if possible.
- Please send it in to email@example.com no later than Friday, April 27th.
Thanks so much, and happy storytelling!
Bike Night 2012 is just around the corner and tickets are now on sale on the MassBike website. For those thinking about attending, get your friends together and purchase a table (10 Tickets) for $10 off each ticket.
This year at Bike Night, we will be having a fashion show highlighting the best in functional, stylish urban bike fashion. The event will be held May 3rd, from 6:30-9pm at the Westin Waterfront in Boston. The Westin Waterfront has graciously provided us with a beautiful space that is not only perfectly designed for the fashion show but also boasts exquisite views of historic Boston Harbor. The night will begin at 6:30 with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres provided by Bacardi and Sam Adams. Each ticket holder will be given two free drink tickets and any additional drinks can be purchased for $5.
After cocktail hour those in attendance will be ushered into the dining room for a seated three-course dinner including salad, entrée, and dessert. Entrée options will include chicken, beef, or vegetarian. Dinner will wind down around 8:30 and the night’s entertainment will begin.
The fashion show will focus on clothing that goes “Beyond the Spandex” and will include garments that highlight bicycling as a practical, fun, stylish transportation option for all types of people. This year in the fashion show you will see items from Ibex, Hincapie, ModRobes, Swrve, Nuu-Muu, REI, Brompton, Rudy Project, Defeet, Geekhouse, Club Ride, EMS, and many more!
During the entire evening attendees will have a chance to buy raffle tickets to win one of three urban commuter bicycles from Specialized and Giant. In addition to the raffle there will be a silent auction with a number of premium items from Bailey Works, Hubway, Sam Adams, Grey Goose Vodka, ZipCar, Road ID, Mavic and more.
This should be a really special night for all in attendance – not only will it provide a chance to show your support for MassBike, but it will also provide you with a high-end night of bicycle themed entertainment. From the sponsors and location to food, drinks, and entertainment, this year’s Bike Night is sure to be the bike event that everyone is talking about. So get your tickets today!
Thanks to the hard work of MassBike and many other advocacy organizations (most notably the Boston Cyclists Union, and also the Livable Streets Alliance and WalkBoston), the Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced earlier this month that the Casey Overpass will be brought at-grade. As Transportation Secretary Richard Davey stated, “The decision was made after an extensive public outreach campaign consisting of five public meetings and 12 Working Advisory Group meetings over a nine-month period. That process has led us to determine that the at-grade alternative reconnects the neighborhood, provides more open space, incorporates more design elements that are pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, and allows for more efficient bus movements through the area.”
Currently, the Casey Overpass is significantly deteriorated and at the end of its serviceable life. With the decision to bring the overpass at-grade the project has been unofficially dubbed the "Casey Parkway," as it will include several small green spaces in the currently proposed plan. MassDOT expects construction to begin in October 2013. This is a momentous victory for a more livable, bicycle friendly street design throughout the Forest Hill community. We look forward to keeping you updated as this story progresses.
Read on for information on how you can be part of our Virtual Lobby Day.
On Thursday, March 22nd, while we are visiting Congress in person, we need you to call your own U.S. Representative and both Senators and ask them to save federal funding for bicycling. All of our Representatives and Senators strongly support bicycling, but we need them to stand firm and help convince others in Congress!
Earlier this week, we updated you on the situation in Congress. Now it appears that the House and Senate are trying to agree on a three-month extension of transportation funding before the March 31 deadline. This will maintain funding at current levels and give Congress more time to agree on an acceptable transportation bill. But the extension must be "clean" (without any changes to current policies or funding).
Here is what we need to do do when you call:
- Thank your Representative for his or her past support of bicycling. If your Representative is Michael Capuano, specifically thank him for voting in favor of the Petri Amendment (pronounced "pea-try") in the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.
- Tell your Representative what cycling means to you, your family, or your business - your personal story matters!
- Ask your Representative to do two things: (1) support a clean extension of transportation funding, and (2) support the Petri Amendment when it is introduced again in the full House.
- Thank both Senators for their past support of bicycling, and specifically for co-sponsoring the Cardin-Cochran Amendment that was included in the Senate Transportation Bill.
- Tell both Senators what cycling means to you, your family, or your business - your personal story matters!
- Ask both Senators to do two things: (1) support a clean extension of transportation funding, and (2) oppose any attack on Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails.
Here are the phone numbers for all the U.S. Representatives for Massachusetts:
|District||Rep Name||Office Number|
|1||Rep. Olver, John||202-225-5335|
|2||Rep. Neal, Richard||202-225-5601|
|3||Rep. McGovern, James||202-225-6101|
|4||Rep. Frank, Barney||202-225-5931|
|5||Rep. Tsongas, Niki||202-225-3411|
|6||Rep. Tierney, John||202-225-8020|
|7||Rep. Markey, Edward||202-225-2836|
|8||Rep. Capuano, Michael||202-225-5111|
|9||Rep. Lynch, Stephen||202-225-8273|
|10||Rep. Keating, William||202-225-3111|
Don't know who your U.S. Representative is? Click here and enter your address to find out.
And our two U.S. Senators:
|Senator Name||Office Number|
|Senator Kerry, John||202-224-2742|
|Senator Brown, Scott||202-224-4543|
Please don't forget to call on Thursday, March 22nd, to be part of MassBike's National Bike Summit Virtual Lobby Day. And then send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know you called.
If you've been following activity in DC, then you probably already know that there has been a lot of activity around the transportation legislation that only a few weeks ago was an all-out crisis. Thanks to the tens of thousands of emails, telephone calls and letters bombarding Congress, we have some great news out of the Senate.
The Cardin-Cochran amendment, which we asked you to contact our Senators to support, was adopted by the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works at the beginning of March. Our own Senators Scott Brown and John Kerry led the way by co-sponsoring the amendment. The amendment works like this:
- Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails are consolidated into a new program called Additional Activities.
- State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) will make their Additional Activities funding available to metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and local governments. Here’s how they’ll allocate the funds:
- The state DOT will allocate 50% of the Additional Activities, based on population, to MPOs and rural areas. MPOs will then distribute the funds through a competitive grant program for projects in their communities.
- For the remaining 50% of Additional Activities, the state DOT would host its own competitive grant process for projects. Local governments, school districts, and others would be eligible to compete for this funding.
Even more exciting is that last week the Senate passed the two-year transportation bill, complete with Cardin-Cochran, by a vote of 74 - 22. Bipartisanship is especially important given the fact that the Senate is almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Because of the hard work of our national and Massachusetts partner organizations, and, of course, our members and supporters, bike funding and strengthened local control are a part of this legislation.
On the House Side
In other news, the transportation legislation produced by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (H.R. 7) has ground to a halt. Their bill, as you may recall, was generally reviled by anyone concerned with biking, walking, transit, air quality, or economic development. The failure of this bill is especially striking given the strong majority held by Republicans in the House. As Transportation for America puts it, "All of these numbers make the inability for the House’s proposal to even come close to 50 percent approval ever more glaring. According to sources on the Hill, H.R. 7 was getting 180 votes or fewer in the “whip counts” by leadership to gauge support — far below even the minimum 218 that would represent a simple majority at just over 50 percent."
The collapse of H.R. 7 has revealed discord among House leadership. As a result, Chairman Mica was removed as the driving force behind this legislation (you can read more about this big change here). Instead, Representative Bill Shuster (R-PA), a junior member of the committee, has been tapped by Speaker of the House John Boehner to lead the process.
Only two weeks remain before the expiration of the current extension of the previous transportation bill, so the House must move quickly to do something to avoid a complete freeze on federal transportation funding. This may take the form of a revised H.R. 7, or something closer to the Senate bill, or simply another extension of current funding levels. With little time to build support in the House for a new bill, an extension is the most likely outcome, but then the question is "for how long?" A short extension would mean the House believes it can work out a new bill soon, while a longer extension would indicate deeper divisions without a resolution in sight.
Executive Director David Watson and I are taking the fight to DC this week, leading our delegation to the National Bike Summit to press Congress to solve this problem in a way that strongly supports biking. We'll be thanking all of our Senators and Representatives for their unfailing support for biking, and asking them to do all they can to persuade their colleagues to "ride" with us!
Even though we have been successful so far, we aren't out of the woods yet. As Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff warned, "And since the House has yet to bring forward any concrete alternatives, it presents 'an incredibly fluid and dangerous situation, especially since our highway trust fund programs are scheduled to expire in three weeks.'" We depend on your support to advocate on Capitol Hill, Beacon Hill, and in communities around the state. Please consider supporting MassBike today so that we can keep on giving a voice to support better biking in Massachusetts!
• Cycle for Shelter has been ranked one of the top rides in the United States by Bicycling Magazine & Emmaus is recognized as a model for providing long term solutions to homelessness.
• Century, Metric Century, Half Century & Weekend Warrior (20 mile) scenic routes. The day is planned by cyclists for cyclists & is fully supported.
• Modest registration fees & fundraising. For more information & to register go to: http://events.emmausinc.org/site/PageServer
• Cycle for Shelter is a popular “first” century or metric century whilst still offering many challenges for more experienced riders. The well-marked routes are sprinkled with checkpoints & roving support vehicles & covered by radio communications.
• A delicious barbeque, complimentary massages, foot treatments & shower facilities await cyclists at the finish on the scenic Haverhill campus of Northern Essex Community College.
Cycle for Shelter participates in MassBike’s Charity Ride Partner Program to help support MassBike’s advocacy and education program.
- The average age of survey-takers was 46, with a range of 17 to 75 years old.
- There was also a good gender mix, with 132 male, 82 female, and two genderqueer/transgender respondents.
- You're a well-educated bunch! A little over three-quarters of the survey-takers had a post-secondary degree, and nearly 13% reported having a Ph.D.
- On average, both members and non-members thought that all of the work we are doing is important (scored greater than 5 on a scale of 1 - 10).
- MassBike members and non-members alike thought our work on statewide policies and with the state legislature was most important.
- State policy and legislation were followed closely with our work on motorist education and specific infrastructure projects in terms of importance.
Finally, it was really heartening to read the comments at the end. They were all supportive, a few with constructive criticisms (which we noted), and made our day a little brighter. A handful of them were:
- I appreciate your great work advocating for, and obtaining, improved cycling conditions in MA. - Attleboro
- Keep up the good work! - Beverly
- Workshops are great but playing a role in legislation is the best thing you can do. When bicycling is written into the law then there is no avoiding it! - Cambridge
- Make sure there are ways for the members outside the Boston area to volunteer, be an Advocate, be involved. I'm always sad I can't help out stuffing envelopes or whatever other little tasks there are from Northampton. - Northampton
- I really appreciate what you guys do! I think biking is important and educating cyclists and motorists is the most effective way to get it more accepted. You rock. - Somerville
- Good job, MassBike! - Natick
- I've been a member since the 80s and am delighted to see that the organization has grown so much and that biking is much more mainstream than it used to be! - Arlington
So thanks again for everyone who filled out our survey. You've established an important baseline to compare against for future surveys, and given a lot of valuable input for us as we craft priorities for the future. As always, we couldn't do it without you!
Bike Night: Beyond the Spandex
May 3, 2012
6:30 - 9:00 PM
Presented by the Westin Waterfront Hotel and MassBike
Individual Tickets are $75 or buy a Table (10 tickets) for $600 and save $150!!
Online ticket sales will be available until 4/27 after which you can call the MassBike office at 617-542-2453 for ticket information.
Bike Night: Beyond the Spandex is just around the corner and tickets are on sale now on the MassBike website. Get your friends together and purchase a table (10 Tickets) for $15 off each ticket.
This year at Bike Night, we will be having a fashion show highlighting the best in functional, stylish urban bike fashion. The event will be held May 3rd, from 6:30-9pm at the Westin Waterfront in Boston. The Westin Waterfront has graciously provided us with a beautiful space that is not only perfectly designed for the fashion show but also boasts exquisite views of historic Boston Harbor. The night will begin at 6:30 with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres provided by Bacardi and Sam Adams. Each ticket holder will be given two free drink tickets and any additional drinks can be purchased for $5.
After cocktail hour those in attendance will be ushered into the dining room for a seated three-course dinner including salad, entrée, and dessert. Entrée options will include chicken, beef, or vegetarian. Dinner will wind down around 8:30 and the night's entertainment will begin.
The fashion show will focus on clothing that goes "Beyond the Spandex" and will include garments that highlight bicycling as a practical, fun, stylish transportation option for all types of people. This year in the fashion show you will see items from Ibex, Hincapie, Swrve, Nuu-Muu, REI, Brompton, Rudy Project, Defeet, Geekhouse, Club Ride, EMS, and many more!
During the entire evening attendees will have a chance to buy raffle ticket to win one of three urban commuter bicycles from Specialized and Giant. In addition to the raffle there will be a silent auction with a number of premium items from Bailey Works, Hubway, Sam Adams, Grey Goose Vodka, ZipCar, Road ID, Mavic and more.
This should be a really special night for all in attendance - not only will it provide you a chance to show your support for MassBike, but it will also provide you with a high-end night of bicycle themed entertainment. From the sponsors and location to food, drinks, and entertainment, this year's Bike Night is sure to be the bike event that everyone is talking about. So get your tickets today!
[caption id="attachment_18293" align="aligncenter" width="560" caption="Click to enlarge"][/caption]
As seen above, the outbound (Boston-to-Cambridge) side of the bridge as proposed will be truly multimodal, with a single travel lane for motor vehicles, a wide buffered bike lane, and a wide sidewalk. While we can (and will) push to further narrow the remaining travel lane to provide even more space for bicyclists and pedestrians - and to slow down the traffic that speeds over the bridge - MassDOT has the right idea for the outbound side.
Throughout the process, the design for the inbound side has been the focus of discussion and disagreement. The alternative chosen by MassDOT does not represent an improvement over current conditions for bicyclists; at most, the bike lane is six inches wider than the current shoulder/bike lane. So bicyclists who are not comfortable riding across the bridge today will not feel any safer riding across the reconstructed bridge. And the sidewalk, while wider than what exists today, is still narrow - too narrow to be comfortably shared by pedestrians, wheelchairs, strollers, and the inevitable less-confident bicyclists drawn by the wider-but-still-inadequate sidewalk.
Another option proposed by the Task Force would configure the inbound side much like the outbound side: wide sidewalk, wide buffered bike lane, and a single travel lane (see below). While there is disagreement over whether this configuration would provide an acceptable level of service for cars, one thing is certain: the decision we make now will determine whether or not we will ever be able to realize the Task Force's vision of maximized space for bicyclists and pedestrians, if and when future traffic volumes support doing so.
[caption id="attachment_18300" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Click to Enlarge"][/caption]
At the recent public hearing on the Longfellow Bridge reconstruction project, MassBike joined with other advocates to speak out in support of this longer-term vision for the bridge. Click here for our full joint statement.
There are tradeoffs for bicyclists and pedestrians in these design choices. The MassDOT plan would mean losing the opportunity for a wider sidewalk until the next time the bridge is rebuilt (50-75 years), because the crash barrier cannot easily be moved once built. Faster cyclists would be in the same narrow bike lane we have today, while slower, less confident cyclists would probably be jockeying for space on a narrow sidewalk (if they felt safe enough to use the bridge at all). On the other hand, the advocates' plan would move the crash barrier inward, creating a much wider space for bicyclists and pedestrians to share on the sidewalk, but eliminating the on-street bike lane. Neither proposed solution is optimal from either the bicyclist or pedestrian perspective.
Advocates for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit, the disabled, and the Charles River parkland all agree that the longer-term vision is the one we want and this is the only way to preserve that option. In the short-term, less confident bicyclists will feel more protected being physically separated from cars, and many more people may choose to bike over the bridge to Boston or the Esplanade. Some may view it as bikers and walkers sacrificing separate space for the possibility of a better deal in the future, but I don't see it as a sacrifice. Instead of separate but inadequate space for bicyclists and pedestrians, we'll get a much wider more flexible space that will be safer and more inviting for more people. It can work, and is already working on bridges elsewhere, like the busy Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, Oregon.
So let's thank MassDOT for demonstrating some real multimodal thinking on this project, and push them to think just a little further into the future we all want to see.