Fred Flintstone, George Jetson and the I-90 Interchange



The deadline for comment on the Interstate 90 Interchange project in Allston was this past week. Below is the letter filed by MassBike Executive Director Richard Fries.

To Whom it May Concern,

I deeply appreciate the effort made to present a number of options and schemes to re-build the Interstate 90 interchange in Allston. The public hearings have likewise been informative and illuminating, for all parties involved.

While I applaud the addition of some bicycle and pedestrian accommodation I came away rather crestfallen. After discussion with several other advocates I had to check if indeed my reaction was on target.

The collective disappointment resonated with all concerned advocates.

The narrow corridor of the project affords several different options. I respect the constraints and the efforts to integrate a variety of modes there. I'll defer to my colleagues at the Boston Cyclists Union, Boston Bikes, Livable Streets Alliance, WalkBoston and other neighborhood groups for their expertise there.

But the plans shown for the 100-plus acre wedge of land is what left me disappointed. This 20th Century paradigm of design is revelatory. The plan seems focused on throughput for automobiles first with bikes, pedestrians and transit wrapped around that as a distant second.

We have a chance here to go to the vanguard of 21st Century thought and put the active transportation plan into place first.

Of note is that less than 29 percent of 18-year-olds even have drivers' licenses. We know that 17 percent of college students - those all-important job creators - in Massachusetts use bikes as their first choice of transportation and transit second. Within MetroBoston the number approaches 30 percent.

So here we are in Suffolk County, which alone has 26 colleges and universities, with a parcel of land between Harvard, Northeastern, Boston College and Boston University. All of these schools discourage students from bringing automobiles to campus.

And what do we do? We design something for Mr. Drysdale and his Cadillac in classic 1960s design.

At issue here is NOT whether we can get a share of the road; we have a blank canvas. At issue here is whether we can get a share of the engineer's mind. A generation grew up watching Fred Flintstone stuck in traffic in the past and George Jetson stuck in traffic in the future. Can we not shatter this failed paradigm?

I reflect on this while we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the movie Back to the Future. Just 30 years ago we thought the future would be about moving through places faster.

But we missed it.

The future, with technology, social networking and mobile phones, turned out to be about slowing down and improving where we are at with each other.  Instead of rocketing AWAY from each other, we worked on improving the urban space we share WITH each other.

So let's not make that mistake with this design. Change the paradigm.

What will our verse be when they revisit this design in 50 years?

Thank you,

Richard Fries



Boston Marathon 2016 - MassBike's Running to Ride Team!

Welcome aboard Jenn Blazejewski of Cambridge and Rob Larsen of Roslindale!



We’re thrilled to announce that Jenn Blazejewski and Rob Larsen will be running Boston 2016 on behalf of MassBike as part of our Running to Ride Team, thanks to the John Hancock Non-Profit Program. With a collective fundraising goal of $20,000 we know that with your help,  Jenn and Rob can meet this goal prior to the big day and conquering the 26.2 miles to Boylston Street.

Jenn, having completed countless marathons, including Boston, is gearing up for April! As an active member of the MassBike board, she lends her marketing expertise and bicycling passion to the organization. Jenn became truly invested in cycling advocacy following her involvement in MassBike board member Tim Johnson’s Ride on Washington. At the time, Jenn was VP of Marketing for Boloco and debuted the Boloco trailer, sending it on its maiden voyage feeding hungry bike riders many, many burritos over the course of the five day trek. This adventure sparked her understanding and passion for bicycle advocacy. She currently works at Digitas as the VP of Digital Strategy.

Rob, a cyclist and MassBike member, is a seasoned half marathoner. He is ready to take on Boston on behalf of MassBike! Rob is an avid bike commuter who believes that bikes are a vital part of the future of the modern city. He has been a Boston marathon spectator for 35 years and has a special love for the race and the city, being a native to the area. He has a great understanding of the work that needs to be done to elevate Massachusetts as one of the best states for bicycling in the country and aligns himself with the MassBike mission. For more on Rob and to follow his journey all the way to Boylston Street, check out his blog.

Want to support Rob and Jenn (and our work here at MassBike!)? Visit their fundraising pages!

[box]Make your donation to Rob and Jenn really count - support them on #GivingTuesday!

1 week from today on Tuesday, December 1st, the John Hancock Non Profit Program will donate $2620 to the top fundraiser on #givingtuesday and $1000 to the top 10! Help us get there to kickstart our team’s fundraising goals![/box]



 

2015 Annual Meeting

When: Thursday, December 3rd, 7pm

Where: Forge Baking Company, 626 Somerville Ave, Somerville

You are invited to the MassBike Annual Meeting to meet the staff, the board and hear Executive Director Richard Fries discuss the 2015 accomplishments and the 2016 ambitions.

 

Deadline for Public Comment Extended to November 30 for Improved Multi-Modal Safety and Access to Emerald Necklace Parks in Jamaica Plain

PLEASE NOTE:

PUBLIC COMMENT DEADLINES EXTENDED TO MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2015

IMPROVED MULTI-MODAL SAFETY & ACCESS TO EMERALD NECKLACE PARKS IN JAMAICA PLAIN

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Emerald Necklace Conservancy (ENC) recently hosted a series of three public meetings to engage area residents and stakeholders in addressing issues around improved safety and access to the parklands of the Emerald Necklace in Jamaica Plain, while reinforcing the parklands’ historic character.  At these public meetings, DCR and the ENC presented and obtained feedback on options for improved safety and accessibility for all users - pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists - at three key areas of concern:

  • The Arborway, between Eliot Street and South Street, including Kelly Circle and Murray Circle.

  • Perkins Street and Parkman Drive

  • Centre Street from the VFW Parkway to Murray Circle


The presentations made at these meetings are available for viewing on DCR’s website at http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/public-outreach/public-meetings/.

The public is invited to submit comments regarding the respective meeting’s topic online at http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/public-outreach/submit-public-comments/ or by writing to the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Office of Public Outreach, 251 Causeway Street, Suite 600, Boston, MA 02114.  PLEASE NOTE:  The public comment deadline for each of the three projects has been extended to the close of business on Monday, November 30, 2015. 

If you have questions or would like to be added to an email list to receive DCR general or project-specific announcements, please email mass.parks@state.ma.us or call 617-626-4973.

Public Meeting: Watertown-Cambridge Greenway

Meeting reminder! Marking your calendars:

Monday, November 30, 6:30pm - 8pm

WATERTOWN-CAMBRIDGE GREENWAY PROJECT

The Watertown-Cambridge Greenway is an effort launched with the joint purchase of a former B&M Railroad line, the Watertown Branch, by the City of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to create a multi-use pathway and greenway.  This purchase, which includes the former railroad right-of-way from Concord Avenue in Cambridge, through the Fresh Pond Reservation, under Huron Avenue, and into Watertown, will be developed into a pedestrian and bicycle path, helping complete the important regional connection linking the Charles River path system and the Minuteman Bikeway.

At this public meeting, DCR and the City of Cambridge will present an update on the design review process and the proposed design at the 25% completion phase.     

Click here for the full meeting notice

Lessons from Denmark - People focused policy and design

By Andreas Wolfe, Program Manager

Over the last few years we’ve gotten to celebrate a number victories here in the Boston area. In just 12 months, we’ve seen the Connect Historic Boston Trail enter construction and celebrated the announcement of high quality bike infrastructure along Commonwealth Ave near Boston University and on Beacon Street in Somerville. Cities across the country are seeing the benefit of designing more livable and safer public ways. However, the debate remains very much alive. When visiting family in Denmark last month, I of course found myself on two years every single day of my trip. This was my first time in Denmark in 5 years, during which time I’ve become involved in the effort to bring somewhat Danish style protected bike lanes to Boston. I was excited not only to remember what safe and intuitive bicycle design looked and felt like, but also to see what lessons I could take back to Boston. Here’s a summary of what I saw:

1. Urban Design and Transportation work in full sync:

While in Copenhagen, I rode on the City’s Quay Bridge (Bryggebroen), which provides a pedestrian and bicycle connection across the south harbor. The bridge is intended to not only connect two parts of the city, but also extend the Harbor’s boardwalk southward and create an inviting place for people to visit on both sides of the harbor. The bridge is a shining example of how transportation is not about just getting people from point A to B, but can create destinations in and of itself.

[caption id="attachment_24363" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The Quay Bridge (Bryggebroen)[/caption]

As Massachusetts moves forward with rebuilding the Mass Pike in Allston, and other major transportation projects, this is a shining example of how transportation projects cannot only connect places, but create them as well.

2. A bike lane is as holy as a car lane.

Even in bicycle heaven Cambridge, this is an all too familiar sight:



In a construction zone, the bike lane always goes first. Second comes the sidewalk. Lastly, the road is only truly “shut down” when cars can no longer use it. In Copenhagen, every construction zone I saw had a continuously maintained bike lane. When space was tight, the bike lane and sidewalk were combined into a wider shared use path. After that, car traffic was redirected. Under all circumstances bicycle and pedestrian traffic was maintained.

[caption id="attachment_24365" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Jagtvej in Copenhagen’s Nørrebro neighborhood[/caption]

3. Thinking Outside the Box

American roadway standards are all about conformity. In some ways conformity is good. A green light should always be green. A stop sign should always be red. But what if we had a female walk symbol instead of a man? What if our bike trail crossings had both bikes and people on them, instead of a traditional crosswalk? In Denmark, transportation is built to respond directly to the user environment, regardless of your mode. That means you can get creative:

[caption id="attachment_24364" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Bicycle footrest on Axel Heides Gade[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_24366" align="aligncenter" width="338"] Temporary bicycle lane in Copenhagen[/caption]

My first day back in Boston on a bike, I forgot how to ride in traffic. Nervous to jump out in front of cars, I hugged the side of the road. The Danish bike lanes had left me spoiled. As important as infrastructure is, we must first change our values. While in Copenhagen, I saw design and policy decisions that directly responded to Danish values on transportation. Yet values take time to change. I can only hope that with the push towards Vision Zero, safety will one day pass speed as the crux of our transportation system. Until then, we must advocate not only for more protected bike lanes, pedestrian bump outs and higher visibility crosswalks, but for shifting our values as well.

Help Save Bike Funding!

Right now - there's a serious threat to bike funding and we need your help.

Congress is considering three amendments to the transportation bill that will cut the two most important funding sources for bike projects. These cuts would make it much harder for communities to build bike infrastructure.

PeopleForBikes has an easy letter-writing tool to use to tell your leaders to oppose these amendments.

Fireside Chat with Ted King

From our friends at Landry's Bicycles:

Tuesday November 24th, 6pm - 8:30pm

Toss on your smoking jacket and tweed as we first party then sit down for a conversation with Ted King, retiring pro-cyclist who tackled the sport's biggest events including the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, the hallowed Spring Classics, and the UCI World Championships.

After 10-years as a racing professional, Ted decided that the 2015 season would be his last, so join us as he hangs up his helmet and waxes poetic with some of the insider's stories from his time on the saddle. Ted will be hosted by the indomitable Richard Fries, who we're sure will chat about monuments such as Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders... and Ted's fondness for maple syrup. You're invited to join the conversation, at Landry's Bicycles in Boston on Tuesday, November 24.

Plus, there will be food and beer and warm apple cider -- since this is New England in late fall.

6pm doors open, 6:30 event starts
Tuesday, November 24
Landry's Bicycles
890 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215

This event is FREE and open to the public, with limited number of chairs so be sure to RSVP on the Eventbrite page. But bring your open wallets, since we will be taking donations to support MassBike, your only commonwealth-wide bicycle advocacy organization, and the Kremples Center, a charity near to Ted's heart that is working to improve the lives of people living with brain injury from trauma, tumor, or stroke.

For more information about the Krempels Center, visit:www.KingChallenge.org

UMass Boston’s Healey Library Fast Becoming National Resource on Bicycling History

Original Post from UMass Boston News

By Colleen Locke | September 23, 2015

[caption id="attachment_24335" align="alignleft" width="300"] John Allen, part of the Board of Directors for the Charles River Wheelmen, unloads one of 200 boxes donated to the archives.[/caption]

The Joseph P. Healey Library’s University Archives and Special Collections Department’s collection on bicycling history grew even larger on Tuesday, with the addition of 200 boxes of records from the League of American Wheelmen (LAW).

Known as the League of American Bicyclists since 1997, the organization dates back to 1880 and has played an important role around issues of bicycle safety, design standards, and the rights of bicyclists.

The boxes had been in Pennsylvania; a grant the Charles River Wheelmen gave Cycling Through History: The Massachusetts African American Heritage Bike Network earlier this year fully funded the transportation of the records to UMass Boston. The Charles River Wheelmen, Cycling Through History, and Lorenz Finison, author of Boston’s Cycling Craze, 1880-1900: A Story of Race, Sport, and Society, all helped bring the collection to the archives.

“The League of American Wheelmen as an organization has strong roots in New England, and we’re so thrilled to see the records returning to the region. We’re happy to say that we’re increasingly seen as the ideal home for archival materials about bicycling and bicycling history,” said Processing Archivist Meghan Bailey.

Before Tuesday, University Archives and Special Collections already had some documents related to the League of American Wheelmen in the form of the papers of Ralph Galen and Phyllis Harmon. Galen co-founded the Charles River Wheelmen and Harmon is known as the “Grande Dame of American Bicycling” for her work with LAW and other bicycling organizations.

The new collection is now being processed. To get updates about when the collection is available to view, visit and subscribe to the archives’s website and newsletter at http://blogs.umb.edu/archives.

About UMass Boston

The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city's history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 11 colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 17,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit www.umb.edu.

How to Stop Getting Buzzed - A Call to Action on Three Key Bills

By RICHARD FRIES, Executive Director  

I’m riding 2x2 with a good friend in Gloucester, which sees more than its share of bicycles. Car traffic is light on this splendid autumn Sunday. We’re riding to the right, tightly enough so that our forearms occasionally bump as we chat about our spouses, our families, our jobs and - of course - cycling.

Under state law riding two abreast is legal. But I believe cyclists - like motorists and pedestrians - should operate with a degree of consideration for all. In certain circumstances, riding single file is simply courteous. And motorists, in my opinion, should afford cyclists similar courtesy.

But on this morning we enjoyed each other’s company as we rode.

With neither traffic backed up behind nor traffic approaching ahead we feel the car as much as hear the car. The driver chooses not to yield any pavement and buzzes us...passing within about a foot to our left at speed.

Although frustrated, we never missed a beat and pedaled on. Fortunately we were not wobbly charity riders or beginner commuters or college students riding dilapidated bikes or restaurant workers at night without lights.

Was the driver rude? Definitely.

Dangerous? Sure.

Illegal? No.

As of last count, 23 of the 50 states have a three-foot passing law. Even such states with high fatality rates for bicyclists as Mississippi and Florida have a three-foot law.

But here in Massachusetts? Nope.   

That is just one example of Legislation that needs to be passed and then enforced to improve cycling here in the Bay State. The Joint Committee on Transportation is about to hold hearings on key Legislation filed by MassBike. In the coming weeks, your voice could make a difference. Contacting your lawmakers will help.
Here are the three bills that, if passed, will improve the bicycling environment in Massachusetts and elevate us in national bike friendly rankings.

Bill One: The Vulnerable Users Bill

H.3073, S.1807, S. 1879

Nearly half of the states in the U.S. have three-foot rules that require drivers to give a minimum of three-feet when passing a bicyclist. Massachusetts currently leaves it up to the driver to interpret what they consider to be a “safe distance.”  And the Bay State also does not define the legality of the motorist’s ability to cross the centerline to provide that room. So to some degree the motorist’s confusion can be translated as hostility.  

For the second time, the Massachusetts Legislature will consider a three-foot passing bill. But there is one bright-and-shining difference in this effort. This bill will be called a “Vulnerable Users Bill.” My predecessor, David Watson, did a lot of great things at the helm of MassBike. In crafting this bill, however, he showed what eight years of experience can do. Instead of making this bill just about cyclists, Watson included pedestrians, first responders, police, road workers, firefighters, etc. under the tent of vulnerable users. Note that automobiles typically strike and kill more police officers per year than bullets.  And on average a tow truck driver is killed every six days.

This is also politically savvy in that firefighters and police and other trade organizations have far more political sway than bike advocates.


Of note, passing this bill alone could very well move Massachusetts, currently ranked fourth in the country for its bike friendly rankings, up a few pegs to challenge Washington and Minnesota.

Bill Two: The Bike Lane Bill

H. 3072, S. 1808

The second bill simply makes it illegal to stop and/or park in a marked bike lane.

What? That’s not illegal?

No!!!

If passed, the bill would insert this language:

The operator of a motor vehicle shall not stand or park the vehicle upon any on-street path or lane designated by official signs or markings for the use of bicycles, or place the vehicle in such a manner as to interfere with the safety and passage of persons operating bicycles thereon.

Duh….Right? After all it … is … a … bike lane, right?

But the key to this bill’s passage is to point out that such a restriction will improve the safety and flow for all road users. Anybody who has pedaled through an urban rush hour realizes that folks who use bike lanes as turning lanes, drop-off lanes, parking lanes, wait-for-my-friend zone, loading zones, cab stands, etc. only causes traffic to back up. Their actions are not just rude, but also dangerous in forcing cyclists out into traffic and hiding pedestrians trying to cross.  

Bill Three: The Crosswalk Bill

S.1809

The third bill came about from the legendary Andrew Fischer, who helped to create MassBike and has supported Bay State bike advocacy spiritually, financially, and intellectually since the early 1970s.

With more than 200 miles of bike paths now opened in Massachusetts and an expected tripling of that mileage in the next decade one would think some rules would have been laid down around those crosswalks that serve bike paths. Like most cyclists on the Minuteman Bikeway, I never dismount to walk through the crosswalk. But under current law, a motorist that hits a three-year-old boy riding with training wheels alongside of his pedestrian mother would only be charged for striking the mother and not the child.  

The new bill would simply amend language regarding crosswalks to insert the word “and bicyclists” after the word “pedestrians”. (Our pedestrian friends should relax, as the bill will include this language: “Nothing in this statute shall relieve a bicyclist from the responsibility of giving right-of-way and yielding to pedestrians in a crosswalk.

So How Do You Get Involved?

We need MassBike members to contact their lawmakers to ask for passage of these bills. Doing so is easy and requires little time.  

Step One: Find your lawmaker. We made it easy with this link: Find Your Massachusetts Lawmakers

Just click through and you’ll find your State Representative and your State Senator and their contact info. E-mail works fine.  Or find them on twitter.

Step Two: List the bills. Cite the bills listed above by name and number when you ask for them to vote for passage.  

Step Three: Tell them your story. Don’t worry so much about national or state trends or data. Instead focus on your experience in their district and how those bills, if passed, will positively impact all of the voters in their district.

We have an opportunity to make Massachusetts a safer place to live and work and travel. Your help now is critical.

[box]Need help writing Beacon Hill? Here is some language to consider copying and pasting into a personalized letter to your lawmaker:

We have an opportunity to make Massachusetts a safer place to live and work and travel.

The Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition has filed a Vulnerable Users Bill that will improve roadway safety for far more people than just bicyclists. And we write to urge you to support this important legislation.

On average a tow truck driver is killed every six days while on the job in America. We know that a law enforcement officer is struck and killed every month on average. Construction workers, first responders, EMTs, and countless others whose work puts them on the edges of our roadways are at increased risk from motorists who presently are not required to provide sufficient room to pass.

The vulnerable users bill requires motorists to provide a minimum of three feet clearance when passing a bicyclist or any other person deemed a “vulnerable user.” This law will also make it legal for passing motorists to cross the centerline to provide sufficient room to pass.

These laws have been passed in nearly half the states in America, but Massachusetts has yet to enact this basic law to make our roadways safer for every user.

We urge you to please write the chairs of the Joint Committee on Transportation on Beacon Hill, Sen. Thomas M. McGee and Rep. William M. Strauss, to outline your support of House Bill 3073 and Senate Bills 1807 and 1879, collectively referred to as the Vulnerable Users Bill. And please vote to support these critical bills when called upon to do so. [/box]


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