Vulnerable Road Users Bill Has First Hearing

On Tuesday, the Joint Transportation Committee held a public hearing on MassBike's Vulnerable Road Users Bill. Executive Director David Watson had the opportunity to deliver testimony to the committee, where he described the need to have better laws protecting bicyclists, pedestrians, and other vulnerable users of the road. You can read David's written testimony here. The committee does not make a decision about the bill on the spot, but expressed interest in learning more about it.

A big thanks to those who came to the hearing and signed in to testify, even though, as feared, the bill was called very late in the day. Even if you couldn't wait the whole time, by simply signing in, in support of the bill, and submitting your written comments, you sent a strong message to the committee that this bill provides much-needed protection for bicyclists and pedestrians.

It is not too late to submit written testimony. If you or someone close to you has been injured by a motorist while bicycling in Massachusetts, and the motorist was not held accountable, please consider sending an email or letter as explained in our Action Alert.

Now, MassBike will follow up with the Joint Transportation Committee to report the bill favorably and move on to the next step toward making it a law.

ALWAYS Report Your Bike Crashes And Close Calls

As we advocate for better bike infrastructure and policies with regional, state and federal decisionmakers, we rely heavily on data to make a convincing argument about the need for improvement. In order to do that, we wanted to remind everyone about the importance of reporting all incidents, even seemingly minor ones.

Motor Vehicle Incidents: If you are involved in a crash with a car or truck, we have a list of things you should do here. If you have a near-miss, or if a driver is overly aggressive, you should still file a report. There is no RMV Aggressive Driver Report Form anymore, so any non-crash incident must be filed with the police.  When filing a police report, just describe the facts of the situation as best you can. Sometimes, if there was no property damage or injury, the police will discourage you from filing a report - be insistent, it is your right. You felt endangered or threatened, and it needs to be documented to show law enforcement and other agencies that a problem exists. And if you get turned away by the police, or if they try to turn you away, be sure to let us know.

Roadway or Path Problems: If you crash due to a problem with the road or path (like a pothole or dangerous grate), contact the agency that maintains that road (look here for contact information).

Bus or Transit Incident: If you are involved in a crash or a dangerous interaction with a bus, or are hassled by a transit employee, take down as much information about the vehicle and/or employee as possible. Record the date, time of day, location, route number or name, vehicle number, direction of travel, and, if you can do so safely, photos of the vehicle and the employee. Don't worry if you can't get all this information, but the more you can gather the better. Report the information to the transit agency's Customer Service department (look under "Transit" here for contact information for the MBTA and other agencies), and keep us in the loop about their response at

Reporting crashes and dangerous driving behavior works! Last year, the MBTA made major changes to its bus driver training in response to crashes with bicyclists. And, recently, one of our interns got cut off by an MBTA bus pulling into a stop. When he confronted the driver, the driver swore at him and then drove off. Our intern complained to the MBTA, and found out a week later that the driver had indeed been disciplined. If our intern had just let the incident go, this driver would not have learned that threats to bicyclist safety will not be tolerated.

Taking a few minutes to file reports like this will be a big help to MassBike to push for changes that will make bicycling even safer and more convenient for more people! Keep us posted at

Boston Bike Film Festival Seeks Submissions

Organizers of the 7th Annual Boston Bike Film Festival (BBFF) have asked filmmakers with a cycling habit to submit their work to be shown October 14-15, 2011, at the historic Brattle Theatre in Cambridge.  Film submissions are due September 1, 2011.

Types of films shown at the BBFF include animated shorts, narrative stories, and feature length documentaries.  Film concepts from last year's festival ranged from a sad little trike looking for love, to a cycling view of Copenhagen, to a tricked out tour of Wales.

Among the benefits for acclaimed and amateur filmmakers, the Festival offers a chance to get their films in front of audiences who are intrigued and influential to the quality of cycling nationwide. "Based on audience poll, we have definitely found our niche.  We keep tweaking the festival every year," said Cat Bryant, director of the BBFF. "The Boston bike community has shown so much enthusiasm for this event."

The event is a fundraiser for local cycling advocacy groups, including MassBike and Bikes Not Bombs. Festival information and details for submissions can be found at, which will soon include clips from last year's festival. You can also contact Cat Bryant at

State And Cities Receive Bike Friendly Awards

As a part of their Bicycle Friendly America program, the League of American Bicyclists has released the 2011 rankings for all 50 states and issued awards to those that chose to apply for further recognition. Due to the hard work of MassDOT, MassBike, and other advocates, Massachusetts has moved up from 16th place to 9th, and been awarded Bronze status. We congratulate the Patrick Administration and Transportation Secretary Jeff Mullan for their commitment to bicycling.

Three Massachusetts cities have also been recognized as Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) by the League: Boston (Silver), Northampton (Bronze) and Somerville (Bronze). The mayors of all three cities, Thomas Menino, Clare Higgins, and Joseph Curtatone, are all good friends to bicyclists and see bicycling as part of the solution to many issues faced by their communities. These are the first cities in Massachusetts to be recognized by the League's current BFC program. Cambridge was recognized in 1998 under an earlier version of the program, and continues its tradition of innovation to support bicycling. As more Massachusetts communities continue improving their bike facilities and programs we expect to see this list grow.

MassBike has played a prominent role in the emergence of Massachusetts as a bike-friendly state. The 2009 Bicyclist Safety Act, collaboration with the MBTA to improve bike access, and our ongoing Building For Bicycling campaign are just a few examples of how we have helped make the roads safer and the ride nicer.

Congratulations to all, and keep up the good work!

Bring Your Bike To The Islands For Free

[caption id="attachment_4872" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Bike along the coast of Martha's Vineyard"][/caption]

We got this helpful tip from a member about a great deal being offered by the Steam Ship Authority in the Cape area.  Until June 22nd, if you download the coupon located here, you can bring your bike with you to Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket for free (normally $8 round trip).  This is a great time of year to check out the islands, so take advantage of this offer.  And who knows, maybe if enough bicyclists ride the ship, they'll make this a permanent deal!

For more information, visit

Action Alert: Support Needed For Vulnerable Road Users Bill

Following up on our announcement last week of next Tuesday's hearing on our Vulnerable Road Users bill (House Bill 3079), we need your help to get the bill moving out of the Joint Committee on Transportation. This is an essential first step toward getting the bill passed. Look here for more details about the bill.

How To Help: If you, or someone you care about, has been injured by a motorist while bicycling or walking, and the motorist was not ticketed or prosecuted, please submit your personal story about how this has impacted your life. Contact Executive Director David Watson at or 617-542-2453. You can submit your testimony either in writing, or in-person at the hearing, but be sure to let David know either way.

  • Telling Your Story In Writing: Send a letter or email to the chairs of the Joint Committee on Transportation. Be sure to reference "AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE SAFETY OF VULNERABLE ROAD USERS", House Bill No. 3079. This does not have to be complicated or formal - simply tell your story in your own words and in your own style.Senator Thomas McGee and Representative William Straus
    Joint Committee on Transportation
    State House, Room 134
    Boston, MA 02133

    You can also email your comments to and Be sure to send a copy to David Watson by email or mail too.

  • Telling Your Story In Person: The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, June 14, 2011, from 1-5pm, in State House Room B-1. Let David Watson know that you plan to attend the hearing. Please plan to arrive early to check in with David and sign up to testify. There will be several bills at the hearing, our bill is "AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE SAFETY OF VULNERABLE ROAD USERS", House Bill No. 3079. As with written testimony, this does not have to be complicated - just tell your story.The committee may hear testimony on all the bills in the order in which people sign up, or they may decide to group testimony on the same bill, so there is no way to know exactly when testimony on our bill will happen.

    It is a good idea to submit your testimony in writing even if you plan to speak - it will allow the committee members to refer back to your testimony, and if you have to leave early the committee will still consider what you have to say.

    Please do not wear bicycle clothing or helmets to the hearing - wear regular street clothes (or a jacket and tie). It is vitally important that we convey to the committee that bicyclists are mainstream people from all walks of life.

The more people who speak or write in support of the bill, the greater the likelihood that the committee will report favorably and the bill will move on to the next step. Every person's story will make a difference, so please participate!

First Hearing Scheduled For Vulnerable Road Users Bill

MassBike's Vulnerable Road Users bill is scheduled for a hearing before the Joint Committee on Transportation on Tuesday, June 14, 2011, at the State House in Boston. As previously reported, the bill was filed early this year. You can see the bill here. The bill will encourage motorists to exercise more caution when operating around vulnerable road users, such as bicyclists and pedestrians, and will provide law enforcement with additional tools to protect vulnerable road users.

What we need right now is to hear from people whose lives have been impacted by a crash between a bicyclist and a motorist in Massachusetts, particularly where the motorist was not held accountable. Whether you are a victim yourself, or close to a someone who cannot speak for him- or herself, we want to hear your story. Please contact Executive Director David Watson at or 617-542-2453. In addition to sharing your story, please indicate whether you would be willing to testify at the hearing in support of the bill. (Testifying is not as scary as it sounds - you just have to tell your story in your own words.) Feel free to also share your thoughts in comments to this post.

We may need help from the bicycling public to get the bill reported favorably out of this committee, and moved on to the next step in the legislative process. Keep your eyes open for possible Action Alerts from MassBike over the next week.

MassBike Education Program Gaining Momentum

When I started at MassBike a month ago, I hit the ground rolling with the education program. Teaching current and future bicyclists safety and confidence is an important part of what we do at MassBike, so I was glad to get started on it as soon as I joined the team.

Our commuter workshop program had classes lined up before the snow began to melt, before I had been even been hired.  At my first class, I taught a Basic Bike Maintenance course at Harvard Medical School, with about 30 bicyclists in scrubs looking on as I demonstrated how to change a tire and lube a chain. Just this spring, we've taught around 15 commuter courses to over 100 current and prospective bicycle commuters.

Beyond our adult education courses, we also have instructors teaching bicycle safety tips in schools to children ages 10 - 14.  Through the support of the MassDOT and a federal Safe Routes to School grant, MassBike is able to offer these classes around the state.  Since March, we have taught nearly 20 classes totaling to almost 900 students, in addition to two "Train the Trainer" sessions.  By training bike safety trainers at schools, we are opening wide the door to countless future youth trainings by school employees.

Now that Bay State Bike Week is finished, we are going to be moving forward full force with our education program and plan to offer classes open to the public sometime in July.  Keep an eye on our calendar, as those classes should be scheduled and posted within the next three or four weeks.

Finally, if you are interested in teaching bike safety courses yourself, please send in an application!  We are looking for experienced teachers with an enthusiasm for biking and an interest in making our bike trips safer.  You can read the job description here.

MassBike Takes Third In MassCommuter Challenge

[caption id="attachment_4790" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Courtesy of Joseph Marrone"][/caption]

This year, MassBike finished third in its size category (1-24 employees) in the MassCommuter Challenge, right behind Ciclismo Classico (2nd) and Urban AdvenTours (1st).  MassBike was honored with a certificate of accomplishment and a photograph on the winner's pedestal.  For an organization with only three employees, we were quite happy to have logged 370 miles during the week-long Challenge.  Despite the rain, we each managed bike over 100 miles during the week, much of it commuting to different Bay State Bike Week events.

The rankings were the following:

Organizations 1 - 24 employees:

1. Urban AdvenTours
2. Ciclismo Classico
3. MassBike
4. Patagonia
5. Aliaswire

All organizations:

70. Digital Lumens
71. Mass Department of Energy Resources
72. Ironwood Pharmaceuticals
73. IHS
74. MassBike
75. Metabolix
76. Charles River TMA
77. UMass Amherst
78. Patagonia
79. Draeger Medical

Congratulations to all the organizations who participated, and we look forward to biking even more miles next year!

Still Time To Join MassBike And Save!

There is still time to save money when you join MassBike!  During the month of May, new members get a $5 discount on a membership (normally $30 for an individual).  Once you join, you can get discounts at bike shops around Boston and the state, discounts at Bed & Breakfasts, a reduced rate for new Zipcar memberships, discounts on MassBike classes, and discounts on car insurance.

But most importantly, you are supporting a better bicycling environment in your community and in communities across the state. Join today to add your voice to thousands of other bicyclists speaking out for better bicycling.

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