Save The Date: Lets Get Beacon Hill Moving!

We are pleased to announce Massachusetts' first ever Bike/Walk Summit on Thursday, May 17th from 10am -1pm in Nurses Hall at the State House. This event will be the central MassBike event for Bay State Bike Week and is co-sponsored by the two statewide biking and walking organizations, MassBike and WalkBoston (respectively). It will give local advocates from all corners of the state a chance to tell their legislators how important bike/pedestrian issues and legislation are for Massachusetts.

We're looking forward to a great event that will provide a unique opportunity for citizens to come together and let their voices be heard (the specific legislative agenda is still being worked on). You can find some more tentative details here. This event is free and open to the public, and we highly recommend anyone interested in bicycling here in Massachusetts to participate. If you have any questions, please email More details to come soon!

A Little Good News From Capitol Hill

If you've been keeping track of our blog, then you know that right now the US House and Senate are moving full steam ahead with a federal transportation bill. While advocates in the biking and walking community aren't crazy about the Senate bill, it is vastly better than the highly ideological House version (deemed by Sec. LaHood, "The worst transportation bill I've ever seen in 35 years of public service.").

All signs are that Massachusetts Representatives are ready to vote unanimously to kill the House bill, HR 7. (National opposition to the bill was so intense that House leadership has delayed the vote - see below.) We were even more excited to find out just yesterday that Senator Brown and Senator Kerry are co-sponsoring the Cardin-Cochran Amendment in the Senate, which would fix many of the problems in the Senate bill (more here). It is a profound statement to have the full Massachusetts delegation, on both sides of the aisle, stand up in full support of biking and walking. It is also a great sign that all the work we've been doing for years, with our advocacy partners, with Congress, and with our grassroots supporters is making a difference!

There are still a lot of moving pieces. On the House side:

  • According to Mass Transit, the White House recently issued a warning that if somehow the House Bill were to make it the President's desk, it would meet a veto.

  • Our national partners are also reporting that, because the House bill was so terrible that House leadership couldn't garner the votes to pass it, it has been broken up into three smaller bills. The transportation component won't be voted on until after President's Day (probably the week of February 27). (More info here.)

  • Even though the there is an amendment being introduced to restore bike funding in the House bill, killing the bill entirely is probably still the best option at this point.

On the Senate side:

  • The League of American Bicyclists reports that "the bipartisan Cardin-Cochran amendment is gathering support to restore dedicated bike/ped funding and preserve local control over this small sliver of transportation funding. We are hearing that MAP-21, the Senate bill, won’t now make it to the floor until the week of February 27."

We heard that the Senators are hearing from more constituents about this amendment than any other transportation issue - so thanks to all of you for contacting them! Thanks to you, biking and walking is front and center in the debate over transportation funding. Thanks to you, we have a fighting chance to continue funding bike lanes, mountain bike trails, multi-use paths, child bike and pedestrian safety trainings, and the many other programs and projects that our tiny stream of federal money makes possible.

If you want to thank Senator Brown and Senator Kerry for their support, please do. And please consider supporting MassBike so that we can continue to make biking a priority in Massachusetts.

Action Alert: Contact Your Senators TODAY

We told you late last week that the crisis in federal transportation funding was only getting worse, and to stay tuned for an Action Alert. This is it. The consensus among advocacy groups, like the Alliance for Biking and Walking, Transportation for America and MassBike, is that there is no chance for salvaging the House transportation bill. MassBike is in close touch with the Massachusetts delegation and is confident that we will have their unanimous opposition to this horrible transportation bill. (Which is why we are not asking you to contact your House Representatives about killing H.R. 7 - but you can if you want.)

Hope, then, lies in the Senate. Over the past few days, two amendments have been proposed to the Senate's transportation bill (MAP-21, or S. 1813) that would fix many of the problems relating to bike funding. Without these amendments, the three key sources of funding for biking and walking (Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails Program) will no longer receive dedicated funding and will instead be forced to compete with many other programs for a smaller pot of money.

Today, we need you to contact Senator Kerry and Senator Brown to ask them to support the Cardin-Cochran Amendment and the Klobuchar Amendment.

Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) are co-sponsoring an amendment which would give local communities more access to Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School. In Massachusetts, this amendment would likely make it easier for towns and cities to access this funding.

Senator Amy Klobuchar's (D-MN) amendment would restore dedicated funding to the Recreational Trails Program, a key resource for off-road trails.

In Massachusetts, these programs have been leveraged into hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in off-road trails, paved multi-use paths, and improved signage, drainage, and crossings that remove barriers to biking. Just a few examples of worthwhile projects that received funding were:

We are asking you to do two things:

1. Call and/or email your Senators TODAY, tell them why bicycling is important to you, and ask them to SUPPORT the Cardin-Cochran Amendment and the Klobuchar Amendment to MAP-21 (S. 1813).

Senator John Kerry: (202) 224-2742, Email (select “Transportation” as Topic)
Senator Scott Brown: (202) 224-4543, Email (select “Transportation” as Topic)

Don’t have time to write your own email? Click here to send a pre-written email message.

2. Email and let us know you contacted them!

We know that we have been sending out a lot of Action Alerts on federal issues, but we want you to know that it's only because the situation has grown that dire. Thanks so much for adding your voice to this crisis - and stay tuned for more developments!

MassBike Turns 35!

This year MassBike celebrates thirty-five years of promoting better biking. With its humble beginnings as the “Boston Area Bicycle Coalition” back in 1977, MassBike has had a history of growth and success. Since that time over three decades ago, we have expanded into a statewide organization with three local chapters, developed strong partnerships with other advocacy groups and government organizations, and hired an efficient staff of three full-time employees. MassBike has worked continuously to foster a safer, more accessible biking environment through education, legislation, and infrastructure design.

Here are just a few of the major successes we have had over the years:
  • 1970s - Launched our education program, which has since educated thousands of adults and schoolchildren on safe riding
  • 1985 - Successfully lobbied the MBTA to lift their ban on bikes
  • 1992 - Helped lobby for the creation the Minuteman Bikeway, now one of the most popular rail trails in the U.S.
  • 1996 - Secured passage of the Bike-Pedestrian Access Law, making Massachusetts one of only three states to guarantee equal access for cyclists on the road
  • 2000-2011 - Lobbied the MBTA to: allow bikes on the T without a special pass (2000), dramatically expand the hours during which bikes are allowed on the subway (2004), purchase bike racks for 250 buses (2005), revamp bus driver training to ensure that drivers are aware of bicyclists (2010), and Helped to win reduced peak hour restrictions on the T’s Blue Line (2011).
  • 2004 - Passed legislation requiring the Registry of Motor Vehicles to update the Driver’s Manual to include more information about bikes and bike safety
  • 2005 - Persuaded the state to create the first Bicycle Advisory Board in more than a decade
  • 2006 - Worked with the federal congressional delegation to win more than $5 million over five years to help make it safer for kids to bike and walk to school.
  • 2009 - Helped work with legislators to create the Bicycle Safety Act which supplies significant legal protection to bicyclist throughout the state.
  • 2010 - Partnered with MassDOT and MassRIDES to expand Bay State Bike Week into a truly statewide event
  • 2011 - Launched our Same Road, Same Rules safety campaign, aimed at educating both bicyclists and motorists about their rights to road.

Over the years and with each new success, MassBike has evolved to meet the needs of bicyclist in Massachusetts. Currently supported by a membership base of roughly 3,000 members, we hope you join us in supporting all of the great work we have done and continue to do to advocate for the rights of bicyclist throughout the Bay State. If you haven’t already, please follow the link to become a member and support better bicycling for Massachusetts today!

Last Chance To Win A T-Shirt!

[caption id="attachment_6646" align="alignleft" width="125" caption="Last chance to win this vintage t-shirt!"][/caption]

A few weeks ago we posted about a really important survey that we would like our organization’s stakeholders to fill out. As we plan for 2012 and beyond, we are looking for your input about our advocacy priorities and some information on who you are. This is our last notice! Please take five minutes and fill out the survey for a chance to win one of 25 awesome 30th anniversary MassBike T-shirts (pictured left). In order to be eligible for the drawing, you need to take the survey by Tuesday, February 14th.

Thanks so much for your input!

Boston And Massachusetts At The Top Of Their Class For Biking And Walking

You may have heard about how Massachusetts and Boston have been on the rise as great places to bike. A recent report released by the Alliance for Biking and Walking confirms it! This report is good news for MassBike, which for 35 years has been partnering with other advocacy and governmental organizations to make cycling a safe, fun, and accessible mode of transportation throughout Massachusetts.

Looking at the report closely, it shows encouraging trends on the prevalence of biking in Boston and Massachusetts. Boston maintains one of the  lowest bike and pedestrian fatality rates of any US city and Massachusetts boasts the ninth-lowest fatality rate of any state. Meanwhile, funding for biking and walking projects has continued to steadily increase both within Boston as well as across the Commonwealth.  It is always encouraging to see an upward trend since, as this report points out, biking and walking makes serious contributions to improved public health, less traffic congestion, and better air quality.

But despite this positive news for MassBike and the Bay State, there are still serious challenges facing bikers. First, it is important to note that the statistics from this report combine the numbers for both biking and walking. We all know that Boston is "America's Walking City", and it is unclear how much of the #1 ranking is a result of walking as opposed to biking statistics.

When you drill down a little more, you can see some figures that indicate biking still has a long way to go. In Boston as well as statewide, around 70% of those who commute to work by bike are men. (It has often been noted that women are more risk averse than men, and so higher levels of women biking usually indicate a safer biking environment.) And our rate of fatalities for children under 16 is about 50% higher than the national average, indicating a strong need to improve facilities and bike education for our youngest cyclists.

MassBike is ready for the challenge of closing gaps in bike usage and safety, especially with events like Bay State Bike Week and our advocacy for the Vulnerable Road Users Bill. Here's to an even better 2013!

Volunteer Night Rescheduled To Wednesday February 15th

As many of you know, every month on the 2nd Tuesdaywe invite our members to the MassBike office to help us with our mailings and to meet some other like-minded cyclists. As an added incentive we always supply pizza and beverages for everyone in attendance. We highly recommend coming by to check this event out as it is always fun way to spend a Tuesday night, helping support local advocacy and enjoying some free pizza!

This month because Valentine's day falls on the second Tuesday of the month we will be pushing volunteer night back one night to Wednesday the 15th. I hope we see one and all at this great, bike friendly event. If interested in attending please RSVP by emailing Thanks and I will see you next week!

Federal Transportation Crisis Continues

Things have gone from bad to worse. On the House side, there has been an all-out assault not only on bike funding, but also transit, environmental review, and basically anything other than highways and bridges. The House Bill (H.R. 7) is one of the most extreme examples of slash and burn politics, described as "uniquely terrible," (NY Times) "disastrous," (Rep. Nadler) and "The worst transportation bill I've ever seen." (Sec. LaHood) Because the Petri Amendment failed, the consensus among a wide variety of groups is that the best hope for biking and walking is to kill the House Bill entirely and start over. Transportation for America, a national transportation advocacy group, notes,
"More than 75 national organizations signed the letter [of opposition to H.R. 7] — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AARP, the American Public Transportation Association, the National Rural Assembly, American Society of Civil Engineers, LOCUS (real estate developers), National Association of Counties— and a huge list of other individuals and state & local groups, including the governors of Oregon and Washington, several state DOTs, state and local Chambers of Commerce, and hundreds of state and local organizations nationwide."

You may be seeing Action Alerts from national organizations asking you to contact your Representatives to ask them to vote against the bill. Here in Massachusetts, MassBike and our T4MA partners are contacting all our Representatives, who we expect will all strongly oppose the bill.

With an incredibly diverse array of groups (including the Tea Party!) aligned in opposition to the House Bill, MassBike and our partners are concentrating on what's happening in the Senate. You may remember our post several weeks ago about MAP-21, the senate's version of the transportation bill. Amendments are still possible in the Senate Bill, including one expected to be filed by Senator Cardin. There may be new amendments by tomorrow or Monday, and we want to have everything on the table before you spend time getting in touch with Senators Brown and Kerry.

We are working hard with our organizational partners to make sure that the votes are there to kill the House Bill and to improve the Senate Bill. (In fact, Executive Director David Watson is at a Rails to Trails Conservancy meeting in Philadelphia right now to coordinate the national campaign.) Because the Massachusetts delegation has consistently supported biking in this process so far, and we are contacting them on your behalf, we aren't asking you to engage your Representative now. And the situation in the Senate is still very fluid, so we want to be sure that the time is right before we call on you to contact our Senators.

We are expecting to issue an Action Alert by Monday as things become more clear in the Senate, so stay tuned! When we do send out the Alert, we will need you to take action immediately.

Making Democracy Work!

Have you ever walked the halls of the State House? Or met your state representative or senator? Do you want to?

We are in the very early stages of planning a state advocacy summit at the State House in May. A critical part to a state summit, though, is having people from around the state participate! (Democracy doesn't work without citizen involvement, ya know?) This includes not only knocking on your legislators' doors, but also potentially having an information table about local bike advocacy going on in your part of the state.

To that end, we are trying to get a sense of whether those in the bike community (that means you) would be willing to come to Boston for a weekday, morning time event on Thursday, May 17. A rough sketch of the event is as follows:

  • You would set up a meeting with your representative or senator ahead of time.

  • The event would start around 10 AM, at which point you would pick up an information packet for yourself and your legislators.

  • We would give talking points and other tips on specific pieces of legislation (like our Vulnerable Road Users Bill) before your meeting.

  • Come back to the main room, let us know how things went and eat some lunch.

So our questions for you are:

(1 = not at all, 10 = count me in)

  1. On a scale of 1 – 10, are you interested in participating?

  2. On a scale of 1 – 10, are you interested in having an information table for your local bike group?

Please send responses to Thanks so much for the interest!

Amendment To Save Biking Defeated

We just learned that the Petri/Johnson/Lipinski Amendment, which would have funded for biking and walking programs in the House Transportation Bill, was defeated by a close vote of 29 - 27. We want to give a huge thanks to Representative Michael Capuano, who voted in favor of the amendment, and to all of you who asked him to support it. We lost this battle, but the fight isn't over. For a full listing of how the committee members voted, click here.

The good news is that because the vote was so close and had bipartisan support, there is a chance that we will be able to get the funding put back in later in the legislative process. However, this is by no means a certainty. We are almost definitely going to be calling on you again soon to voice your support to your member of Congress. In the meantime, we will be working hard with our national partners to form a strategy to continue funding for biking and walking.

We got an overwhelming response from our supporters in Mr. Capuano's district, many of whom reported that they had contacted his office. This highlights how much we depend on our members and stakeholders to be effective in our advocacy. We need your help to continue the fight for biking, so please consider joining or making a donation to MassBike. (Our online store is undergoing maintenance, so please give us a call at 617-542-2453.)

Thanks so much for your support, and stay tuned!

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