Ask MassBike: Business Districts And Sidewalk Bicycle Riding

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 John about riding on the sidewalk in Boston.

I enjoyed listening to you today on NPR, however there was one question which I don't think was adequately answered, the question was whether it's legal to ride on sidewalks, the answer was that it was not legal in certain "commercial areas," but I'm not sure what that means. Is it legal to ride on sidewalks in the Back Bay, such as Commonwealth Ave? Thanks, John


Hello John

Each town in Massachusetts gets to choose where its "business districts" are, so you will need to check with each town to figure out where it is OK to ride, and where it isn't. Almost every place in Boston and Cambridge is considered a "business district" and as such it is not OK to ride your bike on the sidewalk, If you had a specific question about a specific road you should contact the city.

If you have a question for MassBike, contact us.

Jingle All The Way

The 13th Annual Ciclismo Classico Jingle Ride raised over $2600 for MassBike last weekend, including $2000 from our great friend Bruce Lederer, director of the Mass BikePike Tour. That brings the total Bruce donated to MassBike this year to $7,000! We also got three brand new members on the ride! Thanks so much to the team at Ciclismo Classico.

The Jingle Ride brought together dozens of festively dressed bicyclists riding imaginatively-adorned bikes, spreading good will and song from Arlington to Boston and back. Words alone cannot do it justice, so here is the video:


Vote For The MassBike Board Of Directors

The 2009 MassBike Board of Directors Election is now open for voting. All current MassBike members are eligible to vote. This year's election is online-only; there are no paper ballots. We have sent emails containing voting information to all members for whom we have email addresses. The email message contains a personalized link for you to review the candidates and vote. If you do not receive an election email, but would like to vote, contact us for assistance. Your vote matters - MassBike is a membership organization, directed by members.

MassBike's Board is responsible for the strategic direction and governance of the organization. Board members also take a leadership role in fundraising and other activities to support MassBike's mission. The Board has 19 members, and 7 of those slots are currently up for election to a three-year term.

Dual/Family Members get two votes. If we have separate email addresses for both voters, then each will receive their own election email. If not, let us know and we'll add the second email address.

Please take a few minutes to vote now; voting closes on December 31, 2009.

Please contact david@massbike.org or call 617-542-2453 for assistance.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The election system we're using sends the email notices automatically for us, but the "From" address is confusingly labeled "Do Not Reply <notices@ballotbin.com>". We have no control over this, so plus check your junk mail/spam folders first if you don't see your election email. Then call us if you need help.

Boston Reports Progress For Bikes

Boston's Director of Bike Programs, Nicole Freedman, presented a year-end report at the Boston Public Library on Thursday, December 10, 2009. The event was hosted by LivableStreets Alliance, with valet bike parking provided by MassBike.

Nicole updated the packed house on everything that the City of Boston has been doing to make Boston "a world-class bicycling city." For those of you unable to make it, here are some notes we took. If you would like read the full report click here (pdf).

The highlights:

  • Mayor Menino is the chair of a new Bicycling Task Force of the national Conference of Mayors

  • Boston has counted a 43% increase in bicycle ridership since the Boston Bikes program began in the Fall of 2007, while the recent national American Commuter Survey put the increase for Boston from 2007 to 2008 at 63% (from 1% to 1.6% of all trips)

  • In a recent survey of Boston bicyclists, 72.9% were interested in road upgrades (bike lanes, bike paths, fix potholes, etc); the next highest area of interest was bike parking at 16.7%

  • Boston has installed almost 15 miles of bike lanes since 2007

  • Nicole showed a chart that compared Boston's progress on installing bike lanes to a number of "bike-friendly" cities, but scaled as if those cities (including NYC, Seattle, Portland) and Boston were the same size; in that context, Boston appeared to be installing bike lanes at a faster rate than many other cities (Ed. note: We're not sure how to interpret this)

  • Nicole stated that Boston has the "barebones beginning of a network"

  • The City is looking at installing bike lanes on a number of streets, including Commonwealth (with bike boxes at intersections), Talbot, Boylston (possibly a buffered lane), Atlantic, and Commercial

  • The City installed 250 new racks in 2008, another 250 in 2009, and intends to continue at this pace; 75% of the racks have been located based on public requests

  • On-street parking (taking over a car parking space for bike parking) was successfully piloted at the Otherside Cafe on Newbury Street

  • The City continued a number of encouragement programs, including Bay State Bike Week, Bike Fridays, R.O.C.K. Roll & Ride, and youth cycling in public school

  • The youth cycling program involved 1300 youth in 2008-2009, with each youth participating in four session on a bike

  • The City established a bike pool for employees to get around during the day, with 30 bikes available at nine buildings

  • Bike Friendly Business Awards have been presented to 60 businesses

  • Two bicycle businesses, Geekhouse Bikes and Urban Adventours, received BLDC loans from the City to grow their businesses

  • The TD Bank Cycling Celebration brought the first pro bike race to Boston in 20 years, and culminated in the Hub On Wheels citywide bike ride

  • The Boston Public Health Commission ran a campaign to get kids to wear helmets - "Cooler in a Helmet"

  • The City's first bike map was printed, and all 40,000 copies were distributed

  • Stolen Bikes Boston Community Alert program started

  • The City passed an ordinance prohibiting cars from stopping or parking in a bike lane


Nicole also reported on some upcoming initiatives:

  • Working on a parking policy for new developments, requiring indoor secure bike parking and outdoor bike parking

  • Designing artistic bike racks for the City (probably with a design contest)


The biggest future initiative is the Bike Share Program:

  • Scheduled to launch in July 2010 with 1000 bikes at 85 stations

  • Over three years, will expand to 3000 bikes at 290 stations

  • The bikes are one-size-fits-all

  • The City is working with neighboring communities (such as Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville) to make the system regionally expandable

  • Nicole said bike share is "about all the people who don't bike"

  • Bike share programs are currently in 50 cities worldwide; Boston will be the first major US city

  • Nicole expects bike share to double bicycle ridership in Boston "almost instantly"

  • The bike share program is not quite a done deal yet - Nicole said negotiations with the selected vendor are continuing and the City is "hoping to sign a contract soon"


There is no doubt that Nicole Freedman and the City of Boston are engaged in many activities to improve conditions for bicyclists, and we've certainly come a long way in the first two years since Boston Bikes started. Thank you Boston! The upcoming bike share program presents both an opportunity and a challenge. It is an opportunity to dramatically increase the number of people riding bikes in Boston.The challenge for the City is to accelerate their efforts and do as much as possible before the bike share program launches next July, so we have a city ready to welcome all those new cyclists! MassBike looks forward to continuing our work with the City of Boston to reach that "world class" goal.

Reminder: Tuesday December 15, Important Meeting About JFK Street Bridge (Anderson Memorial Bridge Rehab)

This is a reminder to everyone in the Metro area, the JFK Street bridge is up for rehab, it is important that you attend this meeting and let the planners know that it is vital to include bicycle infrastructure in the rehabilitation process. Current conditions on this heavily cycled bridge are not optimal for bicycling, this is an excellent chance to make this bridge bicycle friendly. .




Meeting details below:

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The Massachusetts Department of Transportation's Highway Division Invites You to a Public Information Meeting for the Anderson Memorial Bridge Rehabilitation Project
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
7:00 PM “ 8:30 PM

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School, Auditorium 100 Putnam Avenue, Cambridge, MA


View Larger Map

The purpose of this meeting is to provide an overview of the proposed rehabilitation of the historic Anderson Memorial Bridge, introduce MassDOT's design team, answer questions and gather comments.

The goals of the project are to improve the bridge's structural integrity and enhance accessibility. The main objectives are to repair deteriorating elements of the bridge, upgrade structural capacity and improve local street connections and accessibility. The proposed rehabilitation will respect the documented historic status of this landmark structure and preserve as many of the original elements as possible. Built in 1915, the Anderson Memorial Bridge is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places as an integral and contributing component of the Charles River Basin Historic District. It is a key Charles River crossing between Cambridge and Boston and the primary connection between two Harvard University campuses.

If you have questions or would like more information about the project, please contact Tracy Osimboni, MassDOT Highway Division Project Manager, at 617- 626 4985 or
Tracy.Osimboni@state.ma.us. To be added to the project email or US Mail distribution lists, please contact Stephanie Boundy, Public Outreach Coordinator for MassDOT's Accelerated Bridge Program, at 617-973-8049 or Stephanie.Boundy@state.ma.us. The school and auditorium are accessible. Please use the entrance to the school that is adjacent to the parking lot and has a ramp. To request language or access accommodations, please contact Stephanie Boundy at the above email address or phone number at least 10 days in advance.

Please share this notice with others who may be interested in the project.

Donate To Massbike's Winter Appeal

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE WINTER APPEAL NOW

Dear MassBike Supporter:
Picture this: youre riding toward an intersection with a four-way stop. You slow and check for traffic and plan to go straight across.

A car horn blares far behind you. Since you're concentrating on the intersection, you don't look back. Besides, you think the horn wasn't intended for you. A second later, the horn blares again, only louder, longer and closer! You put your foot down at the stop line, suddenly aware of an SUV with its right mirror coming close to your left elbow.

You scramble to your right and look at the driver, holding both hands upward and mouth the word, WHAT!? He makes an obscene gesture at you and shouts, Get off the road!  He darts through the intersection without coming to a stop.

This story is not fiction. It's real and it happens too often, sometimes with tragic endings. MassBike wants to make sure these stories have good endings. With your help, we will.

Roads are something we all must share, regardless of whether we are on foot, on a bike, or in a big metal box. But Share the Road messages are confusing “ some motorists believe that Share the Road means bikes need to get out of their way. Worse still, in the community where our story took place, the police department instructs bicyclists to pull over for cars. Sharing should be simple, not confusing.

Sharing is something we're supposed to learn as kids “ sharing our toys, our candy, and respect for each other. Sharing leads to an even more powerful concept “ equality. So, what is MassBike doing to change sharing into equality?

Our new campaign Same Roads, Same Rules has a simple message: whether you're on a bike or in a car, it's all the same “ we all have a right to the same roads, and the same rules apply. When we all follow the same rules, an interesting thing happens “ we get the same respect.  We're not different because were bicyclists or motorists, we're the same, because we are people with equal rights.

Creating the Same Roads, Same Rules website is just the beginning of sharing this vital message. We need your help “ in two ways. First, please share Same Roads, Same Rules with everyone you know. Sharing Same Roads, Same Rules with your family and friends is easy with our new web tools “ just visit www.SameRoadsSameRules.org and click Share This.

Second, please make a gift to MassBike, so we can share the Same Roads, Same Rules message with a wider audience. We're pursuing matching grants to launch a Same Roads, Same Rules media campaign “ but we need your donation to qualify for the matching funds.

Your gift helps MassBike help all bicyclists in Massachusetts. With your help, we got the Bicyclist Safety Law passed this year. That marked a major turning point for MassBike “ in a very positive direction! Since then, we've been busy advocating for changes in Massachusetts to give bicyclists an equal footing.



Here's a sample of how we have been leading the charge:

Transportation reform - What started as an effort to assure that the Commonwealth spend federal Transportation Enhancements money on the bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure for which it was intended has given MassBike unprecedented access to influence policy in the new Mass DOT.

Expansion of Safe Routes to School “ MassBike's new train-the-trainer program will enable teachers to provide ongoing bicycle education, helping us reach more children with our bicycle education and safety program.

Expansion of Bikes on the T “ We celebrated the opening of the new bike cage at Forest Hills. And the MBTA has sought MassBike's opinion on the locations for additional bike cages, as well as improved bicycle parking throughout the T system!

Rumble Strip Policy “ A MassBike member alerted us to dangerous new rumble strips on Route 7 in Western Massachusetts. We worked with MassHighway to develop a new statewide rumble strip policy that is less dangerous to bicyclists.

How does MassBike get all of these things done? We engage the right people in a conversation. When people have a conversation, they learn they are not different, but really are the same. We will continue having those conversations to make sure that equality for bicyclists becomes reality.

Help us share the message of Same Roads, Same Rules with all road users by making a tax-deductible gift today. With your help, we'll even reach that guy in the SUV.

Sincerely,
John Siemiatkoski
President, Board of Directors

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE WINTER APPEAL NOW

MassBike's Annual Meeting Recap

For those of you who couldn't make it to our Annual Meeting, you missed a really good time. For those of you who braved the bad weather - thank you so much! It is the support of people like you that makes us able to do all the things we do.

First off, our apologies: due to technical difficultly we were unable to show the amazing short film "The Impossible Journey" by John Bonner, but thanks to the magic of the Internet you can watch it below.



The Impossible Journey from John Bonner on Vimeo.

Recap of many of the major accomplishments we had in 2009, and some of the great things we are planning for 2010.

Top 2009 Accomplishments:

  • January: Bicyclist Safety Act signed into law

  • January: Completed a study of bikeability in five Boston neighborhoods

  • February: Launched new MassBike Calendar using Google Calendar, featuring public meetings statewide, part of our new focus on public engagement

  • March: Organized and led the MA delegation to the National Bike Summit

  • May: Played leading role in promoting Bay State Bike Week and National Bike Month

  • May: Cape Cod and Islands Chapter held first Cape Cod Bicycle Forum

  • August: Helped MassHighway draft new statewide rumble strip policy that is more bike-friendly

  • August-September: Conducted online Safety Survey of almost 1800 bicyclists and motorists

  • Spring-Summer: Ran Pump & Lube Stations to encourage bicycle commuting

  • September: Forest Hills bike cage opened (with other advocates and the T) and the T removed the last restriction on folding bikes

  • September: Replaced our popular but aging website: blogging, Facebook, and Twitter to reach more people more effectively

  • October-present and beyond: Joined transportation reform advisory committee and opened new lines of communication with MassDOT

  • November: Pioneer Valley Chapter got bike racks on last 29 PVTA buses, now 100% rack-equipped

  • December: Launched Same Roads Same Rules campaign (download spoke cards here)


All Year: Continued statewide advocacy efforts on MABPAB, Trails and Greenways Task Force, SRTS Task Force, and project-specific advocacy delivering testimony and written comments

All Year: Taught bicycling skills and safety classes to 3020 people, including adult classes, commuter workshops, and Safe Routes to School

All Year: Valet parked over 500 bicycles at events to encourage bicycle transportation

All Year: Expanded MassBike Spins Ride Series to 27 rides

Plans for 2010:

Legislation: Vulnerable Road Users Bill, which would increase penalties for motorists who injure or kill bicyclists, pedestrians, and other vulnerable road users. It would also make it easier to prosecute those motorists.

Policy: Strengthen partnership with MassDOT and the transportation reform effort, particularly Office of Transportation Planning and Healthy Transportation Compact

Education: Major spring push on Same Roads, Same Rules campaign

Education: Safe Routes to School Train-the-Trainer program, to make the program more sustainable in schools

Education: Expanded Safe Routes to School with new MassBike instructors so that we can reach more schools

Education: Expanded adult programs with new League Cycling Instructors

Education: Revise police training to teach police about the new Bicyclist Safety Law

Infrastructure: Campaign to relax MBTA peak hour restrictions for bicycles

Infrastructure: Campaign for more MBTA bike cages and bike parking

Capacity Building: Membership growth, Volunteer/Public Engagement across the board

We had a fantastic year in 2009, and are ramping up for an even better one in 2010. Thank you once again for all your support and we hope you stick with us for the great year ahead. Happy holidays, and happy riding.

Also in case you wondered, Shane is the fastest MassBike staff person on the rollers. If you need proof, see below.


Help Build a Better Bicycling Community This Season: Join or Give a Membership to MassBike!

As a bike rider, you may have noticed that your morning commute or weekend ride is getting a little crowded. More bicyclists are taking to roads and paths, and even as the weather gets colder, routes across Massachusetts are still packed with people on bikes. With more bike riders out there, it’s more important than ever to know that someone is looking out for bicyclists just like you.

Read more about how you can help build a better bicycling community in Massachusetts




MassBike, the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, has been the voice for bike riders in Massachusetts for over 30 years. Every day, MassBike works to make your ride better. From the State House, to the classroom, to the roads of your commute or ride, we are working to make sure that you and other bicyclists are a priority.

We want to make 2010 a big year for bicycling and we need your help to do it! MassBike relies on membership to make our advocacy effective. Our membership gives us our political clout, shapes the bicycling community, and funds our campaigns. We’re asking you to join or help a friend to join MassBike today to be a part of making bicycling better in Massachusetts.

With the help of our members, here is what MassBike accomplished in 2009:

• Led the campaign for the passage of the Bicycle Safety Bill, which made 13 important changes to the law, making Massachusetts a safer place to bicycle.

• Launched our new safety campaign, Same Road, Same Rules, designed to educate both motorists and bicyclists about the rules of the road and bicyclists’ rights.

• Taught over 2,600 youth and 400 adults about how to safely ride a bicycle through our Safe Routes to Schools and adult education programs.

• Surveyed almost 1,800 road users to determine bicyclists’ and motorists’ behaviors and knowledge of bicycle laws.

• Held the first bicycling advocacy forum on Cape Cod through our Cape Cod & Islands Chapter.

• Encouraged more people to ride bikes with the MassBike Spins Ride Series, valet bike parking at events, Pump & Lube Stations, and Bay State Bike Week.

• Worked with the T and other advocates to get bike cages installed at the Forest Hills Station in the metro-Boston area and encouraged the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority to install bike racks on buses, through our Pioneer Valley Chapter.

We are making a difference! By joining or giving a gift membership to MassBike today you can be a part of creating a better bicycling environment. If you aren’t already a MassBike member, joining today will help to make our advocacy possible. If you are a MassBike member, giving a gift membership to another bike rider in your life is a great way to show that you care. And until January 1, 2010, anyone who joins or gives a gift membership will receive a FREE MassBike water bottle!

Join us by clicking one of the following options which will take you straight to our online store:

New Individual Membership

New Dual/Family Membership
Gift Individual Membership
Gift Dual/Family Membership

Or you can call us at the MassBike office at 617-542-2453.

MassBike needs your help to make 2010 a great year for bicycling. Join today and be a part of making a difference!

Don't forget: Membership to MassBike also gets you or your friend great discounts at bike shops across Massachusetts, discounts on car insurance, special membership pricing on classes, and more. Just follow the links above to get or give a membership. And thanks for your support!

MassBike To Provide Valet Bicycle Service For Boston Bikes Report



MassBike will be providing our high quality bicycle valet service at this years Boston Bikes report. We even have sweet signs! Come hear the City of Boston give its second annual bike report, and get your bicycle parked by the classy folks here at MassBike. Parking is free, but if you would like to make a small $2 donation we wouldn't say no.

MassBike's Annual Public Meeting Still On Tonight!

The weather may not be the nicest this morning, but don't let that stop you from coming to MassBike's Annual Public Meeting tonight! The rain/snow/sleet/nastiness should clear up by this evening's festivities, going on from 6-9 at Coogan's Pub in downtown Boston.



David Watson, MassBike's Executive Director, will give a quick update of all the great things we've been up to this year, followed by Q&A; and some volunteer recognition. Then the rest of the evening is dedicated to fun! We'll watch a short movie and then get down to Roller Sprints. You don't even need you own bike for sprints! There will be beer, free snacks donated by Coogan's and good times. Find out more about tonight's events here!


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