It's Time To Get Past Rage

What happens when the hostile rhetoric we see in local media leaves the page and comes to life on the streets? I had the misfortune to experience it first-hand yesterday.

I was intentionally hit by a motorist, who used his car to push me and my bike out of the way while I was stopped at a light. The situation escalated when one of the occupants of the car got out and threatened me. Thankfully, nearby pedestrians intervened and the assailant got back in the car and fled. I was shaken and angry but otherwise unhurt; my bike was not so lucky.

This morning I discovered there were two other reported assaults-by-car yesterday (see here and here). UPDATE: Two arrests have now been made in the second incident. And we know there are lots of other acts of violence against bicyclists - we've all heard about them from friends or online.

How did we as a society get to a point where people find it acceptable to use cars as weapons, not only against other drivers, but against bicyclists and pedestrians who are far more vulnerable? It isn't even difficult to understand that what might be a minor fender-bender between cars can be life-threatening between a car and a bike, yet these incidents are more and more common. I urge everyone (drivers, bikers, and walkers alike) to slow down and respect each other as people - that is the single most important thing any of us can do to avoid danger, de-escalate conflict, and protect ourselves and each other from harm. Slowing down gives you time: time to spot potential danger and avoid it; time to think about the possible consequences of an otherwise impulsive action; time to realize that it really isn't worth risking your life or someone else's to get somewhere a few seconds faster.

The police are investigating the attack on me, and I expect that arrests will be made. I have no idea what motivated my attackers, but this was a crime, and I am committed to pursuing this to the full extent of the law. MassBike will keep working to ensure that the system works to protect bicyclists and that motorists who intimidate and endanger bicyclists are held accountable.

Many of us have experienced incidents like this to varying degrees, ranging from cars "buzzing" us too close, to things thrown at us, to physical or verbal confrontations, or worse. We cannot let these things slide - we need to report them, so that the community and the authorities know they are happening. If you are a victim of road rage or harassment, please call the police and pursue charges. If you need help, call or email us, or look here for more information.

ACTION ALERT: Protect Federal Funding For Biking

This year, around $700 million of Federal transportation funds, which is less than 2 percent of total transportation dollars, will be spent on bicycling and walking nationwide. In 2012 that figure might be zero. Please contact Senators Kerry and Brown TODAY and let them know you support continued funding for biking and walking.

Congressional leaders have made little progress on a new transportation funding bill to replace the SAFETEA-LU Act that expired in 2009. Transportation funding has continued through a series of extensions - and the current extension ends September 30th. Last Friday, they announced a tentative deal for a "clean" extension of SAFETEA-LU that will continue funding at current levels into early 2012. The deal would keep funding for biking and walking programs in place, avert a shutdown of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of people working on transportation infrastructure projects.

But we're not safe yet: In the next few days, Senator Coburn (R-Oklahoma) may ask Congress to eliminate the Transportation Enhancements program – the primary funding source for the past 20 years for bike lanes, trails, bike racks on buses, bike education, and more. This isn’t safe or smart; it’s not good for the economy or the environment; this is bad health policy and bad transportation policy.

Massachusetts spent $97,712,865 on Transportation Enhancements from 1992-2009, and another $5,620,380 on Safe Routes to School making it possible for thousands of children to bike or walk to school. We cannot allow Transportation Enhancements to fall victim to partisan political grandstanding. If we cannot save Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, the Recreational Trails Program, and other vital sources of funding for biking and walking will not be far behind.

Even though bicycling projects create more jobs per dollar than highway-only projects and cutting enhancements won’t impact the deficit – the money just won’t be spent on bicycling – some Members of Congress want to force us backwards to a 1950s highway-only mindset: as if oil embargoes, congestion, smog, the obesity epidemic and climate change never happened.

To protect against cuts to biking and walking programs, we are asking you to contact Senators Kerry and Brown and urge them to support continued funding. Don’t let short-sighted people in Congress take away this vital investment program for smart, sustainable, safe transportation choices.

Please take action today:

1. Call and/or email Senator Kerry and Senator Brown TODAY, tell them why bicycling is important to you, and ask them to do two things:


  • OPPOSE any move to eliminate the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program


  • SUPPORT a clean extension of the SAFETEA-LU programs (pronounced "Safety Lou")



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 to both Senators.

2. Email action@massbike.org and let us know you contacted them!

Every single call or email matters, so please act today!

MassBike Spins In The Late Summer

As the days cool off, the night falls sooner, and the leaves start to change color, what many consider to be prime New England biking weather comes to the Bay State. The MassBike Spins Series is looking for members and other partners to create opportunities for folks to get out on their bikes all around the state. Rides can be any length, and creative themes and fun stops are encouraged.

In return for organizing the ride as a "MassBike Spins Series" event, MassBike can provide insurance and advertise it on our calendar and newsletter. More importantly, however, we'll be getting MassBikers out on the road with the cool breeze whipping through their helmets.

For more information, contact rides@massbike.org or check out our Ride Services Page.

Hubway Membership Exceeds Projections

Some of you may have seen the article in the Boston Globe about the success of the Hubway system. Boston has exceeded almost everyone's expectations in terms of the number of members signed up, and the amount those members have used the bikes. With over 2,300 annual subscribers and 36,600 station-to-station trips, the numbers so far indicate greater subscription and usage rates than both Minneapolis and Denver, which launched with comparably-sized systems.

It's a great thing to see more bicyclists on the road, and especially new bicyclists who might be trying out riding in an urban environment for the first time. We are happy to have a partnership with the City of Boston to provide bike safety classes geared specifically to Hubway users so that these fresh faces can get where they're going comfortably and confidently. Check out our Education Page or see below for listings of when these classes are taking place. They are free and open to the public.

Hubway Bike Safety Workshops


Wednesday, September 21, 5pm – 6pm
Boston City Hall, Conference 933a


Thursday, September 22, 7pm – 8pm
Giant Cycling World,
11 Kilmarnock St.
Boston, MA 02215


Tuesday, September 27, 6pm – 7pm
Boston Public Library
700 boylston st. entrance - concourse level
Conference Room 6


Fall Volunteer Opportunities Abound

The fall is a busy time for us here at MassBike and we need lots of volunteer support to make this season a success. MassBike volunteers help to spread the word about bicycling, directly help out other bicyclists, or help MassBike have the time to do more advocacy. You not only get the good feeling of helping your statewide bicycle advocacy organization, but we like to thank our volunteers who help out with 10 hours or more by providing them with a complimentary MassBike membership.

Check below for some of our upcoming volunteer opportunities, visit our volunteer page, or email volunteer@massbike.org for more information or to tell us you'd like to help out. (We especially need help during the weekend of the 24th and 25th, so please lend a hand if you can).

MassBike Volunteer Night
Tuesday, 9/13
5pm-8pm; 171 Milk Street, Suite 33, Boston


Volunteer nights are a great opportunity to help your statewide bicycle advocacy group, while having a good time and meeting great people. We meet every second Tuesday of the month at the MassBike office (171 Milk Street, Suite 33, Boston) from 5-8pm. Volunteers help MassBike to send out our monthly membership renewal reminders, prepare membership packets, and help out with other activities as they come up. We provide the pizza and drinks. Volunteer night is a great way to meet some other bicyclists.

Blue Line Evaluation
Monday, 9/12 - Friday, 9/16
7:00am-8:30am, 8:30am-10:00am, 4:00-5:30pm, and 5:30-7:00pm; Maverick T Station


You may remember that back in March the Blue Line Pilot Program kicked off, expanding bicycle access during rush hour on the Blue Line. Now, we need help from our members and supporters to make sure that this program continues indefinitely. During the week of September 12, we'll have both morning and evening rush hour shifts to count bicycles and evaluate train occupancy. Shifts run every day from 7:00am-8:30am, 8:30am-10:00am, 4:00-5:30pm, and 5:30-7:00pm. Volunteers will be trained on-site, so anyone can help with counting.

Bicycle Valet
Saturday, 9/24
3:30pm - 6:00pm; Christopher Columbus Park, Boston


MassBike will be providing bicycle valet for the Moving Planet bike ride and event on September 24th. We really need volunteer support to help park 300 or more bikes. Bicycle valet is an easy way to help MassBike, greet bicycle riders, and get to see some great bikes. Email for more info or to sign up to help out.

Hub On Wheels Tabling
Sunday, 9/25
7am-5pm; City Hall Plaza, Boston


MassBike will be tabling at Hub On Wheels. We need your help to let riders and attendees know what's going on with bicycling in Massachusetts and to tell them about MassBike. Come help out for a 2-hour shift and then watch the Mayor's Cup race!

Oktoberfest Tabling
Sunday 10/2
11:30am-6:00pm; Harvard Square, Cambridge


We'll be at Harvard Square's annual Oktoberfest. We need your help to let riders and attendees know what's going on with bicycling in Massachusetts and to tell them about MassBike. Come help out for a 2-hour shift and then enjoy the rest of Oktoberfest and the Honk! parade.

Thank you for your help! Please email volunteer@massbike.org if you'd like to help out with an event or if you have any questions.

MassDOT And RMV Bringing Bicyclist Safety To Drivers

As part of our ongoing work with MassDOT, this year MassBike has been expanding our cooperation with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. In May, our collaboration resulted in a revised Go By Bike brochure, released during Bay State Bike Week.

But there have been two other notable milestones in our work with RMV this year: important bike safety additions to the Driver's Manual and on the licensing written test.

The RMV worked with MassDOT and MassBike to release a new version of the Driver's Manual (English) (Spanish) that for the first time includes information for drivers about how to safely interact with bicyclists. In response to the 2009 Bicyclist Safety Act spearheaded by MassBike, the "Rules of the Road" section of the manual now specifically talks about motorist behavior in the presence of bicyclists (such as how to pass and turn safely and the danger of dooring). These changes are also specifically referenced in an expanded "Sharing the Road" section right at the beginning of the manual (along with a very strong statement that motorists must respect and protect bicyclists on the road), and again in the "Safety First" section. This is an important step toward ensuring that motorists drive more safely around bicyclists, and we will continue to work with the RMV to better integrate this information throughout the manual.

The changes to the Driver's Manual are complemented by an important change to the licensing written test: Every applicant for a driver's license now gets a question on a bicycle safety issue. Because applicants can be sure that bicycle safety will be on the test, it creates a strong incentive for individuals to study this material carefully and for Driver's Education programs to include it in their training. No one wants to risk flunking their driving test!

While these educational improvements will not reach every driver immediately, over time we can be sure that more and more drivers will learn how to drive more safely around bicyclists. Many thanks to the RMV and to MassDOT for their ongoing and growing commitment to bicyclist safety. We are working on other initiatives with the RMV, and we will keep you posted.

Join Us For Volunteer Night

Join us for MassBike's monthly volunteer night on Tuesday, September 13!

Volunteer nights are a great opportunity to help your state-wide bicycle advocacy group, while having a good time and meeting great people. We meet every second Tuesday of the month at the MassBike office (171 Milk Street, Suite 33, Boston) from 5-8pm. Volunteers help MassBike to send out our monthly membership renewal reminders, prepare membership packets, and help out with other activities as they come up. We provide the pizza and drinks. Volunteer night is a great way to meet some other bicyclists. Plus your volunteer hours help you to earn a MassBike membership (find out more about our volunteer membership program here).

If you'd like to join us for volunteer night, please email volunteer@massbike.org. Hope to see on September 13th!

What's With All The Hate?

I wasn't really surprised by the recent screeds against bicyclists in the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. These seem to come in flurries every once in a while, first one media outlet, then others not wanting to be left out of the resulting mayhem. Generating controversy is a common tactic for the media, and challenges to the status quo, like increasing interest in bicycling, are an irresistible target. But what does it really mean for bicyclists?

The greatest injustice the Herald and other haters are perpetrating is that they dehumanize us. We end up nameless, faceless "bicyclists" - not who we really are, like mothers on bikes, grandfathers on bikes, or neighbors on bikes. When motorists are driving next to that nameless bicyclist, it's easier not to pay attention to or care about that bicyclist's safety. Last year, we did a campaign called "And I Ride" to put a human face on people who ride bikes. It's worth taking another look and sending to your non-bicycling friends.

There is also lack of perspective in all this reporting. Yes, there are bicyclists who don't follow the law or who act like jerks, but you can say the same of many motorists and pedestrians. Motorists routinely speed, fail to stop, and make illegal turns, and many pedestrians cross mid-block and against the light. We've got a cultural problem on our streets, where some people have given up on being considerate to others. These recent stories on bicyclists ignore the fact that bicyclists make up a tiny percentage of road users, along with a tiny percentage of users breaking the law.

But the truth is, bicyclists are being noticed because our numbers are growing. More bicyclists are out on the streets than ever before and that is a great thing. More and more people are finding out that bicycling is good for the environment, good for their own health, good for their wallet, and it's fun, too. It's no wonder that bicyclists are getting more attention.

So what can we, the bicycling community, do to end the vitriol? We're doing our best at MassBike to foster change in our transportation culture, to educate motorists how to share space with us, and to get more police enforcement against dangerous motorists. Bicyclists can do their part, too. That means speaking up at public meetings, being a good bicycling ambassador wherever you go, and yes, following bicycling laws, too. MassBike strongly advocates that bicyclists should follow the rules of the road (see Same Roads, Same Rules, also urging motorists to respect bicyclists). Whether you agree with us or not, please consider how your actions might affect public perception of bicyclists and the safety of others on roads, paths, and sidewalks.

As more stories about bicycling make headlines, the media needs to be reminded of its responsibility to report fairly on issues of public safety. Bicyclists can do their part, but unless the media reports more responsibly, the negative perception of bicyclists won't change.

Bike Classes Abound

After getting up and running over the past two months, skills and safety classes are taking place around the state with enthusiastic reception. Take a look at the class offerings coming up, and RSVP or register while there's still time!

[caption id="attachment_5846" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="August On-Bike Class In The Seaport District"][/caption]

Basics of Better Biking

This is a four-hour on-bike course, we go over tips on how to stay safe on city streets, a quick way to make sure your bike is functioning properly, some very basic bike mechanics, and on-bike drills. After this class, you will know how to quickly avoid that pothole, why your bike has a front and rear brake, and what a “Copenhagen Left” is. To register, visit our Adult Education page, or email Price at price@massbike.org. You can also call us at (617) 542-2453.

Saturday, September 10
9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Alewife T Station, under Alewife Brook Parkway
Register by Wednesday, September 7


Saturday, September 24
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Worcester, MA
Worcester Unitarian Universalist Church Parking Lot
90 Holden Street
Register by Wednesday, September 21


Free Commuter Workshops

Biking for Everyone Commuter Workshop
Wednesday, September 14, Noon - 1:00 PM
Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)
60 Temple Place, Boston, MA
RSVP: Price@MassBike.org or (617) 542-2453


Hubway Bike Safety Workshop
Wednesday, September 21, 5:00 - 6:00 pm
Boston City Hall, Conference Room 933a
Register: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KH7RV7Y


Hubway Bike Safety Workshop
Wednesday, September 27, 6:00 - 7:00 pm
Boston Public Library, Conference Room 6
700 boylston st.
Register: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KH7RV7Y


Hubway Offering Subsidized Annual Membership Rates


Hubway, Boston's new bike share program, in partnership with the Boston Public Health Commission, is now providing subsidized annual Hubway memberships for low-income Boston residents.


This is a great opportunity for those who may be interested in biking but aren't able to invest in the needed equipment. As we all know, biking is a great transportation option for people looking to save money (up to $7,600 per year!). This subsidy, reducing the fee to $5 per year and providing a free helmet, gives lower-income households the chance to experience bikesharing, and may even convince a few folks to start riding more regularly on bikes of their own!

This is just another example of the City of Boston trying to make Hubway as accessible as possible. MassBike has been working with the city to provide free Bike Safety Workshops geared toward Hubway users, so that people can get where they're going feeling comfortable and safe. We are looking forward to continued efforts to make this convenient bike system available to as many people as possible.

To get your subsidy code and free helmet from the Boston Public Health Commission and to redeem your code, visit TheHubway.com. Click here to see a flyer with more details and information.


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