Lights ... Again!

Last month, we posted our annual Fall reminder about using lights at night. While many bicyclists are using lights and making visibility at night a priority, lots of people are still riding around in stealth mode, almost invisible.

You've seen them too (or perhaps not!): People without any lights or reflectors; others with tiny, dim lights you can barely see; oh-so-fashionably-dressed riders in chic dark clothing. While the number of bicyclists has increased dramatically over the past few years, drivers still haven't learned to expect us and look for us, especially at night. Do you really want to trust your safety to someone who isn't looking for you and possibly can't even see you?

Get front and rear lights so drivers (and other bikers) can see you, and at least think about adding some reflective clothing. Lights and reflectors are the law (details), but don't get some dinky little lights just to be legal - get something people might actually be able to see at a distance. I know that Day-Glo yellow clothing isn't for everyone (though it is the most visible color in all lighting conditions), but there are lots of more palatable options for the fashion-minded. (I'll admit to often wearing the Day-Glo at night, but I've also got a black jacket with some discrete reflective material for when Day-Glo just won't do.) Remember that you aren't fully visible unless you can be seen from the front, back, and sides.

Here are my own choices for total visibility:

  • Front white headlight: I use a very bright LED light with a rechargeable battery pack, usually set to flash.

  • Red taillight: My taillight has two regular LEDs, and a powerful LED strobe.

  • Extra red rear light: I commute with a backpack that doesn't have much reflective material on it, so I added small red blinky to the back.

  • Lighted ankle straps: Yes, lighted, battery-powered and very visible from the back and sides. I know they sound geeky, but people tell me almost every night that they are incredibly visible and ask where I got them. Simple reflective ankle straps are OK too.

  • Reflective clothing: Day-Glo yellow jacket or vest, or black jacket with reflective material. All are made for cycling, wind and water resistant, with adjustable vents if you get too hot.

I don't use all of this stuff on each and every ride, but I mix-and-match to make myself more visible as appropriate to the situation. Please give it some thought and figure out what fcvisibility options will work for you.

MBTA Unveils Expanded Bicycle Parking

With help from MassBike and other advocates, the MBTA has become more and more receptive to the needs of bicyclists. With new bicycle-friendly policies in place, the MBTA is increasing their bicycle facilities throughout the system. MassBike has the latest on the T's planned improvements.

From now through next Spring, the MBTA will be installing 50 BikePorts around their stations. The BikePorts are canopied bike racks, so you'll be able to lock up with some protection from the elements. The first was recently installed in Worcester:

During 2011, the T will also complete six more Pedal & Parks, the T's secure bike parking facilities. So far, the three operational Pedal & Parks (two at Alewife and one at Forest Hills) have been a huge success, and are constantly filled with bicycles. The new facilities will be located at South Station, Davis, Ashmont, Malden, Oak Grove, and Braintree. Each location will be able to hold 100-150 bicycles, so parking your bike at these stations should no longer be a problem. The MBTA is also improving the access system for the Pedal & Parks so the doors lock and unlock more reliably with your Bike CharlieCard.

Lastly, over the next 18 months, 100% of the MBTA's bus fleet will be equipped with bike racks, so you'll finally be able to rely on the next bus having a rack (and let your bike do some of the riding for a change).

We're excited to continue working with the MBTA to keep improving bicyclist access to transit.

Ciclismo Classico Jingle Ride To Support MassBike This Year!

Don't Miss the 14th Annual Jingle Ride and Holiday Party - Sunday, December 12

The Jingle Ride is a leisurely and festive 10-to-25 mile round-trip bike ride from Arlington Center to Boston, including the Charles River Bike Path and some of Boston's most festive streets. We'll ride into town, have lunch at Quincy Market before spinning back to Arlington via Boston's historic Public Garden, Newbury Street, and the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge.

All participants are asked to make a voluntary donation to MassBike. Suggested donation is $25 per rider. 100% of proceeds will be donated to MassBike.

Holiday Party at Lauren's Home All participants are also invited to a holiday party with food, drink and good cheer and the home of Ciclismo founder Lauren Hefferon.

When Sunday, December 12, 2010 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm . Bring your best singing voice, costume, jingle bells and bike decorations!

RSVP for the Jingle Ride and Holiday Party here.

Jingle Ride Starting Point Jam N' Java, 594 Mass. Ave in Arlington Center (MAP)

There will be fun prizes for best costume, best decorated bike, and more!

MassBike Announces Chapter Summit: Local Issues, Statewide Vision

MassBike will hold its first-ever Chapter Summit on Saturday, December 4, 2010, 9am-1pm, in Worcester. The theme for the summit is "Local Issues, Statewide Vision". For years, MassBike has had regional chapters in Metro Boston, the Pioneer Valley, and the Cape & Islands, to help local advocates focus on local bicycling issues with the support of the statewide organization behind them, and our chapters have had some great successes. But we know we can do even better, and that's why we're having the Chapter Summit.

The Chapter Summit will bring together leaders from our existing chapters, people interested in learning more about advocating for bicycling in their area, and MassBike board and staff members. We'll hear about the chapter program as it exists now, what the chapters have been doing, and talk about how to improve things to strengthen both MassBike as a whole and the chapters individually. Those interested in possibly starting chapters will benefit from the experience of our current chapter leaders, and will have the opportunity to help shape the new-and-improved MassBike Chapter Program.

This event is open to the public, but advance registration is required. Space is limited, so please RSVP by December 1st to If you have questions, please contact Executive Director David Watson at 617-542-2453 or

MassBike Participates In T's New Bus Driver Training

MassBike, along with other transportation advocates, has been working closely with the MBTA to revise their bus driver training to better prepare drivers for interactions with bicyclists, and earlier this week, MassBike Executive Director David Watson participated in the first of these trainings. We are happy to report that the new training is a vast improvement over past policies and should go a long way to making bicyclists safer on the roads.

You may remember our earlier post about MassBike's collaboration with the T and other advocates (including LivableStreets Alliance, Boston Cyclists' Union, and representatives of the cities of Boston and Cambridge) to improve the training. The result of our efforts is a full day training and evaluation that thoroughly covers bus driver-bicyclist interactions and safety. During the training, a bus driver will review past incidents, participate in a classroom session with a bicycling advocate present to answer questions, go through a number of bicyclist-driver simulations, and finally be tested through road evaluations. The end result should be a bus driver who is knowledgeable and well-prepared for operating a bus safely around bicyclists.

The T not only worked with local advocates, but talked with other transit agencies about best practices, and borrowed some very helpful materials. Included in the training is this excellent video from Chicago - we encourage every bicyclist to watch it for important tips on riding around buses (and to understand the bus driver's perspective).

Share the Road - Buses and Bicycles from Chicago Bicycle Program on Vimeo.

The MBTA has committed itself to putting all drivers who have incidents with bicyclists through the course. More than that, over the next 18 months every bus driver will receive a shorter version of this training as part of a new re-certification process.

While not perfect, the new training goes a long way to improving the relationship between bicyclists and buses. We at MassBike are pleased that the T has taken these steps to ensure that bicyclists and bus drivers can share the road safely. We look forward to continue to working with the T towards safer roads for all road users.

Building For Bicycling

Earlier this year, MassBike announced our new bicycle infrastructure policy. Since then, we've been working on key projects throughout Massachusetts to ensure that bicyclists are safe on the roads and that state and local governments think of bicyclists in design and implementation.

With bicycling infrastructure becoming a hot item for politicians and designers, now is a critical time to make sure that projects are planned and built well. We hope that by setting good standards now, well-designed bicycling infrastructure will become second-nature for designers in the future.

MassBike has been involved in key projects throughout the state. We've posted about our role on the Longfellow Bridge, our support of local advocates trying to extend the Community Path in Somerville, our work for bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington, and our help on the Whittier Bridge. These projects not only impact the particular communities where they are located, but the regions they serve and Massachusetts as a whole. They set important precedents about how we as a state want to handle bicycle infrastructure and connect communities. MassBike's participation in these projects informs state and local governments of community support for bicycling and pushes them to be innovative in project design.

We are collecting all the information on key infrastructure projects that we are working on into one place — our Building For Bicycling campaign. While we can't get involved in all projects across the state, we are involved in projects that we think will have significant regional or statewide impact. We'll update you on our progress, tell you about new initiatives we are getting involved with, and let you know how you can help.

Keep an eye out for upcoming Building For Bicycling projects and stay involved in your own community!

Whittier Bridge Success!

Earlier this year, MassBike spoke up about the need for bicycle infrastructure on the Whittier Bridge as an important way to connect communities across the Merrimack River. After hearing from regional advocates (including Coastal Trails Coalition), local bicyclists, MassBike, the Massachusetts Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board, and local officials in Salisbury, Amesbury, and Newburyport, MassDOT has announced that the bridge design will include a bicycle and pedestrian path along the bridge that will connect to roads and paths along both sides. For the first time in Massachusetts' history, an interstate highway bridge will have bicycle and pedestrian access.

MassBike spoke up at a public meeting and worked with community members and MassDOT officials to help bring a voice for bicyclists. Local advocates and officials took a lead role in making sure that MassDOT understood the importance of including bicycle and pedestrian access in the design.

As one of the five "mega-projects" in the Accelerated Bridge Program, this will be an important step in not only linking communities, but also encouraging bicycle infrastructure on other bridge redesigns across the state. It sets an important precedent and we hope to see other innovative bicycle and pedestrian designs as the program continues.

With the Accelerated Bridge Program's goal of fixing over 200 bridges in Massachusetts, the Whittier Bridge is just one of many bridges that MassBike has been working on for bicyclists. We have been involved with the Longfellow, Craigie, BU, Anderson, River Street/Western Ave, and Fore River Bridges. We want to ensure that the opportunity for enhancing our important roadway connectors isn't missed. We'll have more updates to come as projects continue.

Bicycle Access During Craigie Drawbridge Replacement

The Craigie Drawbridge (one of the two bridges in front of the Museum of Science in Boston) is about to be replaced by MassDOT. Work will begin on November 6th and continue into April 2011. The entire drawbridge will be replaced during this period. A temporary bridge will provide two travel lanes across the river during construction. Look here for more project details.

This is a major route between Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville for bicyclists and motorists. No inbound (Boston-bound) motor vehicle traffic will be permitted during November and again January-April 2011. Outbound (Cambridge- and Somerville-bound) travel lanes will remain open throughout the project. The good news is that two-way bicycle access will be maintained at all times, with a combination of shared travel lanes and shared sidewalk.

The outbound travel lanes will be marked as shared lanes so that motorists know to expect bicycles in the lane. Throughout the project, bicyclists may also share the sidewalks with pedestrians, but the sidewalks will be narrow (7 feet) and only one sidewalk will be open during November and January-April 2011 to serve two-way bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Bicyclists and pedestrians may be directed to cross from one side of the street to the other, but there will be a marked crosswalk with a crossing guard. As conditions dictate, bicyclists may be asked to walk their bikes across the temporary bridge.

Yes, this will be inconvenient, but MassDOT is trying hard to help by maintaining two-way access for bikes and pedestrians (but not for cars). If anyone encounters an unexpected problem or safety issue as the project progresses, please let us know so that we can work with MassDOT to address any issues.

We've actually got it pretty good this time compared to what motorists have to do.

When construction is complete, there will be bike lanes and improved sidewalks in both directions.

Support Mountain Biking In The Middlesex Fells

As we reported last February, the Department of Conservation and Recreation is conducting a planning process for the Middlesex Fells Reservation. The draft plan is now available for comment until November 19, 2010. (Download draft plan)

MassBike supports the efforts of the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) to expand opportunities for mountain biking in the Fells while increasing their already substantial stewardship of the park and making the trails more sustainable for all users. NEMBA is asking interested bicyclists to submit comments on the draft plan. See NEMBA's update on the process here.

MassBike's New B&B Partner

Not only do MassBike members get a good feeling from supporting bicycling advocacy, but they also enjoy great discounts at bike shops and bed & breakfasts across the state.

Out latest partner is the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center. The inn is offering MassBike members discounts on two nights stays, so just show them your membership card and enjoy the savings.

Interested in finding out more of the perks of being a MassBike member? Click here to see the benefits.

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