Ask MassBike: Art Bikes

We get a lot of questions here at MassBike, and we like to think we also give some pretty good answers. We realized that sharing these questions and answers on our website would be a valuable resource to others looking for the same information.

We got this question from Scott about art bikes.


Do you have any leads on art bike groups that can be hired for a festival in Boston?


Hello Scott

I am pretty sure what you mean by art bikes are bicycles done up in awesome/outrageous/artistic ways, including custom built bikes (low riders, tall bikes, etc). The only organization I can think of are the wonderful folks over at SCUL, while I am not sure you can "hire" them as they are a quote "an anti-elite band of pilots testing out experimental ships, exploring the Greater Boston Starystems and occasionally other galaxies. We are an organized battalion of funk." they might show up if you asked nicely. Learn more about SCUL here.

Below is some examples of their work

[gallery link="file" columns="2"]

If you know of any other groups like this that could help Scott out leave the link in the comments.

It Really Is A Two-Way Street

I just got road-raged on my own suburban street. I was stopped at a red light, doing exactly what the law and safety required me to do. But that simply wasn't good enough for this particular motorist. He pulled up behind me. Then honked, clearly wanting me to get out of his way. But where could I go?

  • Through the red light? No - that's illegal (and often dangerous).

  • Pick up my bike and move to either edge of the lane? No - the lane is too narrow for a car to squeeze by safely. And, come on, just because my vehicle is light enough to pick up and move doesn't mean I should have to.

  • Into the left-turn lane? No - there were already cars waiting there.


So I waited a few more seconds, the light turned green and I started pedaling across the street. The motorist, rather than just make his right turn, felt it was important to yell at me for not getting out of his way (as if I had been selfish), then drop an f-bomb when I reminded him, more or less politely, of my right to be on the road. The whole incident probably lasted 15 seconds.

Motorists often accuse bicyclists of wanting it both ways: Wanting drivers to respect us on the road, while ignoring traffic laws at will. OK, there's some truth to that.

But motorists often seem to want it both ways too: Wanting bicyclists to follow the law, except when it inconveniences motorists. Then they prefer us to break whatever law is necessary, or put ourselves in danger, or just get the heck out of the way, just so they don't have to slow down or wait a few seconds.

How about this for a thought: Nobody can have it both ways. If we all keep sending each other mixed messages, then getting to work, school, home, or the store will continue to be a competitive sport. People will continue to kill or be killed (sometimes literally) simply to save a few seconds. Or we, as individuals and as a society, can choose a different way.

Represent Massachusetts Bicyclists In Washington DC!

MassBike is once again coordinating the Massachusetts delegation to the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC, on March 9-11, 2010. The Summit is organized by the League of American Bicyclists, and brought more than 500 dedicated bicyclists to DC last year. This is your opportunity to help us get more federal money for bicycling projects and programs from Congress. That money translates directly to bike lanes, rail trails, bike parking, education, Safe Routes to School, and much more. We need to show Congress and the federal government that bicyclists are a major political force!

We do all the hard work setting up meetings for you with our Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill - all you have to do is show up (easy), meet other bicyclists from all over the country (fun), and visit Congress with us (inspiring)! Click here for details

It makes our visits with Congress much stronger if voters from each district are with us. We've got Metro Boston and the Springfield area pretty well covered, but we could use more representation from everywhere else in the state - North Shore, South Shore, Cape & Islands, Metrowest, Worcester, Pioneer Valley, Berkshires - we need all of you.

We wish we could make this free, but you will be responsible for the Summit registration fee, transportation to DC, and accommodations (home stays may be available).  But think of it as an investment in the future of bicycling in Massachusetts and America! Click here to register SAVE $$$ - REGISTER BY FEBRUARY 4TH

Need more information or have questions? Contact MassBike Executive Director David Watson at 617-542-2453 or david@massbike.org.

Kyrgyzstan To Kathmandu: A 6-Month Bicycle Adventure

EDIT: This post has been updated, see here for more recent information! Thanks.

Put A Face On Bicycling - Tell MassBike Your Story!

We here at MassBike know that all kinds of people ride bikes. Unfortunately, many motorists only get to see bicyclists from behind. Sometimes they forget that bicyclists aren't just two wheels and a metal frame, but that those of us on bikes are neighbors, doctors, janitors, teachers, grocers, moms, grandmas, sons, senior citizens, students, and just about everyone else.



The people they pass on the side of the street are not just bicyclists, they are your doctor, or your mother, or your friend. That's why MassBike needs your help! We're collecting bicyclists' stories to put a face on bicycling. We're calling it our "...And I ride" series. We'll be posting profiles of bicyclists on our website throughout the year to highlight the diversity of bike riders. Help us spread the word that everyone has a bicyclist in their life!

You may ride a few times a year or every day; maybe you ride your bike to get to work or you ride just for fun; maybe you only ride in charity rides or you're a racer”if you ride a bike, we want your story! We're looking for "I'm a lawyer... and I ride."; "I'm a housewife... and I ride."; "I'm a grandfather... and I ride."; "I'm a nurse... and I ride." Tell us about your relationship to the people in your life so that we can let them know that everyday folks are out there riding bikes.



We are collecting these stories as part of our legislation campaign. We will be telling your stories to the public, to politicians, and to the rest of the cycling community. We'll be doing "...And I Ride" posts throughout the year. Keep your eyes open for fellow bicyclists and in the meantime, send us your story and help put a face on bicycling!

We need to hear your story. Tell us about yourself and how your bike is a part of your life. Just copy and paste the form below into an email, fill it in, and send it to shane@massbike.org.


  • Name:


  • Email:


  • Where You Ride:


  • How Often You Ride:


  • Your Profession/Relation/Title (lawyer, nurse, Grandma, son, etc):


  • A picture of you on your bicycle, or you in your daily life( be sure we can see your face):


  • A paragraph or two about your life and your bicycle:


Investing In Biking Could Save Lives

States with the lowest levels of biking and walking have higher traffic fatalities and chronic disease. A new report released today by the Alliance for Biking & Walking shows that lack of investment in biking and walking could be contributing to higher traffic fatalities and chronic disease rates in the U.S. Bicycling and Walking in the United States: The 2010 Benchmarking Report reveals that in almost every state and major U.S. city, bicyclists and pedestrians are at a disproportionate risk of being killed, and receive less than their fair share of transportation dollars.

While 10% of trips in the U.S. are by bike or foot, 13% of traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians. Biking and walking receive less than 2% of federal transportation dollars. Seniors are at an even greater risk. While adults over 65 make up 9% of walking trips and 4% of biking trips, they account for 19% of pedestrian fatalities and 9% of bicyclist fatalities.



State investment choices can be a life or death issue for people who walk and bike, says Jeff Miller, President of the Alliance. Creating safe streets for everyone will save lives and improve health and quality of life in communities.



The report also highlights the fact that states with the lowest levels of biking and walking have, on average, the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. In contrast states with the highest levels of biking and walking have, on average, the lowest rates of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. In addition, where rates of biking and walking are greater, more of the adult population is likely to achieve the 150 minutes of weekly moderate-intensity aerobic activity recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to CDC, physical activity can reduce your risk of dying early from the leading causes of death, like heart disease and some cancers.



The report also ranks states and the 51 largest U.S. cities in biking and walking levels, safety, funding, advocacy, and policies. It further compares U.S. cities to their international peers finding that overall, U.S. investment in biking and walking lags far behind that of other developed nations. This may explain why the U.S. has fewer people who bike and walk than its international peers.

Miller says, our data show that increasing investment in biking and walking could lead to more people biking and walking. The more people bike and walk, the safer it is and the healthier the community. It's a virtuous cycle.

Bicycling and Walking in the United States was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and made possible through additional support from Bikes Belong Coalition and Planet Bike. For more information and to download the report visit http://www.PeoplePoweredMovement.org/benchmarking.

For a fact sheet highlighting report findings click here. (pdf)

[caption id="attachment_1081" align="aligncenter" width="391" caption="Source: 2007 ACS Notes This ranking is based on the combined bike and walk to work share from the 2007 ACS. The number one position indicates the state and city with the highest share of commuters who commute by bicycle or foot. View graphs illustrating this data on pages 34 and 35 of this report."][/caption]

You can download the full report here. (pdf)

Ask MassBike: Where Are Cyclists Allowed To Ride Their Bicycles?

We get a lot of questions here at MassBike, and we like to think we also give some pretty good answers. We realized that sharing these questions and answers on our website would be a valuable resource to others looking for the same information.

We got this question from Pascal about what streets are ok to ride your bicycle on.

I am a student from the Netherlands and I will be doing an internship at MIT. I have a question about cycling in Boston. Is it allowed to cycle on all boston streets (except interstates)? For example, is one allowed to cycle the boston university bridge? This bridge has no dedicated bicycle lane, so I'm wondering.

Thanks in advance for your response!

Kind regards,
Pascal



Hello Pascal

Yes you can cycle on all streets in the entire state except for, limited access highways or express state highways where it is posted off limits for bicycles. You can most certainly cycle the BU Bridge, but as you mentioned it doesn't have bike lanes, but will after the current construction project is completed.

Hope this helps

New Multi-Use Paths In Watertown

Governor Deval Patrick has announced a new multi-use path and other bicycle improvements for the Watertown area. We here at MassBike support the construction of multi-use paths, and are working hard to make sure we hear more announcements like this in the future.



Press release from the governor's office below.

-------------------------------

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Department
Office of Governor Deval L. Patrick
Press Release
Contact: Juan Martinez, Kim Haberlin, Alex Goldstein “ 617-725-4025; Colin Durrant (MassDOT) “ 617-973-7870

PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES WATERTOWN MULTI-USE PATH, INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS

WATERTOWN “ Friday, January 15, 2010 “ As part of the Patrick-Murray Administration's Massachusetts Recovery Plan, Governor Deval Patrick today announced the construction of a multi-use path and various intersection improvements in Watertown will move forward this spring.

Across the Commonwealth, we are investing in bike and pedestrian improvements and expanding multi-use paths to improve public health, strengthen our communities and boost the quality of life for residents," said Governor Patrick.

The Charles River/Alewife Connector multi-use path in Watertown will construct a path along an abandoned rail corridor from School Street to the Arlington Street intersection (at Nichols Avenue, Coolidge Hill Road and Crawford Street), with a spur connecting the new path to Arsenal Street across from the Watertown Mall parking lot. The $847,000 project will fully fund the project as designed, including the removal of existing railroad rails and ties followed by construction of a ten-foot wide asphalt path with grass shoulders over a distance of approximately two-thirds of a mile. In addition, under a $1.4 million project approved in late December the intersections of Spring and Summer, Mount Auburn and Summer, and Arlington and Nichols at the eastern limit of the new multi-use path will be resurfaced and traffic sensing devices and new, more accessible sidewalks with wheelchair ramps will be installed.

I am thrilled that this long-awaited project is moving forward and that funding has been awarded for the construction of Phase I of the bike path, said Senator Steven A. Tolman. After over a decade of hard work by various government agencies, community groups, and my brother, former Senator Warren Tolman, this multi-use path is now one step closer to completion. I hope that today's announcement is the first of many and that together we can continue to make Watertown an even better place to live and work.

The Connector path is a significant step in integrating Watertown into the growing network of bike paths in the Metro Boston area, said Representative Jonathan Hecht. The intersection projects address long-standing issues of safety and accessibility. Together they represent a major investment in better multi-modal transportation in Watertown.

This is a great day for the residents of Watertown and I can't wait to see the end result, said Representative Peter Koutoujian. These improvement will create an even more vibrant and enjoyable community. This is a prime example of how our delegation can work with the administration to make something good happen for our constituents.

MassDOT is committed to balancing the needs of all transportation users, whether they be drivers, bikes or walkers,'' said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jeffrey Mullan. These multi-use paths and intersections will improve accessibility and allow cyclists and walkers to enjoy the outdoors while also expanding commuting options.

How To Lock Up Your Bicycle

In our constant quest to return oldies but goodies from our old website I present the MassBike guide for locking up your bicycle, with some updates. You can download this brochure for printing here (.doc)

LOCKING YOUR BIKE

We've all seen them “ lone bicycle wheels locked to parking meters, and broken bike locks hanging from fences with no bicycle in sight. Maybe you've come back to where you left your bike “ and found that it's been stolen! We here at MassBike never want this to happen to you.

Here's what you can do to avoid bicycle theft:


  1. Always lock your bike! It takes only seconds to pedal away on an unlocked bike.



  2. Use two different locks, with separate locking mechanisms. Thieves carry tools that will either snip cables, or pry-apart U-locks “ but rarely both. A cable-lock and a U-lock together are very secure.


  3. Each lock should have its own built-in locking device (a key-lock or combination lock, but not a padlock). Don't use a cable that's secured by a U-lock “ once the thief gets through the U-lock, he's got your bike!


  4. Pull your cable lock through both wheels, and lock it around a bike rack or other closed loop stand. Open-top posts (like parking meters or traffic signs) let thieves lift bikes over them. If you use a cable lock and a Ulock, you don't need to remove your front wheel to secure it.


  5. Wrap your U-lock around a secure post. Then pass it around your rear wheel rim inside the bike's rear triangle. It's not necessary for the lock to secure the frame “ if the U-lock locks the rim inside of the frame triangle behind your seat-tube, the bike cannot be stolen by removing the rear wheel. If you can get the frame as well that is a bonus.


  6. A small U-lock is better than a large one. Small locks are much harder to pry open with a crowbar than a wide U-lock.





This bike is locked to a rack with a cable lock and a mini-U-lock. The cable lock secures both wheels to the rack, and the U-lock locks the front wheel and frame to the rack. It cannot be stolen unless the thief can defeat both locks.


MORE THEFT DETERRENTS


  • Don't leave removable gear on your bike. Take pumps, lights, and other accessories with you.

  • Park your bike where you see other bikes parked. Seek lighted areas with foot traffic.

  • Write your name and telephone number on a piece of Tyvek (a sturdy cloth-like plastic available at hardware stores), and identify yourself as the bike's owner. Put this inside your rear tire between the rim and the inner tube. A bike shop will see this if they are asked to repair a flat tire!

  • Ask your employer, your favorite shops, and other places you visit on your bicycle to provide safe, weather-protected bicycle parking.




Here are some rather poor locking jobs:









It is possible to go a little overboard:

[caption id="attachment_1024" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="via flickr"][/caption]

Make Your Business A Bicycle Friendly Business, MassBike Can Help!

The City of Boston is once again calling for local business' to become Bicycle Friendly. MassBike can help your business qualify for the coveted designation of Bicycle Friendly Business. If you are interested in getting one of our awesome commuter workshops, or adult safety classes so that your business can qualify, please contact us. Below is the letter the city is sending around, it has valuable information for how your business could qualify for this award.

The deadline for applications is Feb 26, so act now!



-----------------------------------

Dear Friend:

Do you know an individual or a business making a difference in Boston to help green our city? I'm sure that you do, and I encourage you to nominate them for Mayor Menino's Annual Green Business, Residential, and Bicycle-Friends Recognition awards.

Mayor Menino recognizes that Boston businesses and residents are an integral part of our efforts to turn Beantown into Greentown. We want to honor those businesses, residents and community leaders who are at the forefront of sustainability, from energy and water conservation, to green building and bike friendly practices. There will be numerous awards in three major categories:


  • Green Business Awards will honor companies in Boston that implement exemplary sustainable business practices in their day-to-day operations. Boston Green Business Awards will be given in a variety of categories.



  • Green Residential Awards will honor residents who incorporate sustainable practices in their home and neighborhood. This is a great tool to showcase the efforts that residents make and to educate others on ways they too can green their homes. Awards will be presented in a variety of categories.



  • The Bike Friendly Businesses Program recognizes businesses that encourage bicycling among their employees by engaging in bicycle friendly practices. All companies engaging in at least nine bike friendly practices from the application receive recognition. One special award will be presented for the Most Bike Friendly Business.





Green Business Award winners from 2009 were Lights Out Boston; Boston Green Building; Boston Sand and Gravel; City Feed and Supply; Equal Exchange Café; Hostelling International-Boston; Katsiroubas Brothers; Nitsch Engineering; OMBE; Studio G Architects.

Green Residential Award winners were West Roxbury Saves Energy; Joseph Porcelli and Dan Goldsbury; and Walter Hope and Jeff Doretti.

Bicycle Friendly Business award winners were Gale International for the Most Bike Friendly Business and Urban AdvenTours for Most Improved. Also, 33 businesses were recognized for their bike-friendly practices.

A brief description of the recipients' practices can be viewed on our website.

Forms for the awards can be found here should be submitted by February 26, 2010. All winners will be announced and honored by Mayor Menino at a reception in April.

To find more information and to download and submit forms, please go to the City's website.

Sincerely,

Jim Hunt

__________________________________
James W. Hunt, III
Chief of Environmental and Energy Services
City of Boston
One City Hall Plaza, Room 603
Boston, MA 02201
(617)635-3425, f. (617)635-3496
james.hunt@cityofboston.gov


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