Safer Streets in Brookline!

This Thursday January 7th Transportation Division staff will present the proposed bicycle improvement plan for the Beacon Street westbound (Marion to Westbourne Terrace) portion of the corridor. Following the presentation members of the Bicycle Advisory Committee and Transportation Board will take public comment on the proposed plans under consideration. No action will be taken by either Board on January 7th. Copies of the report and two alternative plans are available here.

Thursday, January 7, 7pm - 9pm

Brookline Town Hall

333 Washington Street, Selectmen's Hearing Room, 6th Floor

State House Hearings on Key Bike Bills - Tomorrow!



Tomorrow at 10 a.m., the hearings before the Joint Committee on Transportation afford citizens the opportunity to speak for or against proposed legislation. So far, we've received excellent feedback from the hill at the overwhelming number of letters and e-mails that have been sent in support of these bills. For that, we thank you for your efforts!

For those of you who have yet to write your lawmakers - there is still time to make an impact! The deadline for written comment is the end of the day Wednesday, January 6th.

For a summary of the bills MassBike is advocating for, more info on how to get involved, and how to find your representatives read our blog here.

To read a full listing of the bills and hearings, click here: Mass. Joint Committee on Transportation

Those interested in testifying in support of these bills in person are urged to contact MassBike at bikeinfo@MassBike.org.

State House Hearings on Key Bike Bills Set for Jan. 6

Lawmakers Consider Truck Side Guards, Three-foot Rule, and Other Bills

BOSTON, DEC. 29, 2015 - Hearings have been scheduled on Beacon Hill for several key bills that would impact bicyclists in Massachusetts. To be held Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 10 a.m., these hearings before the Joint Committee on Transportation afford citizens the opportunity to speak for or against proposed legislation. These hearings will be the first opportunity of the New Year for you to get involved - read on to learn how!

For many members of the bicycling community these bills have been an ongoing effort. We extend our gratitude to those who have shared their story and contacted their representatives on Beacon Hill. For those of you who have yet to write your lawmakers - there is still time to make an impact!

To read a full listing of the bills and hearings, click here: Mass. Joint Committee on Transportation

“This is the opportunity every citizen gets to weigh in on proposed legislation,” said Richard Fries, executive director of MassBike. “While we file letters and make arguments with data and case studies the most effective influence at these hearings are personal stories from Bay State citizens. We are seeking out testimony from the families and friends of victims whose lives and limbs may have been spared if these laws had been in place.”

Amid several transportation bills filed there are four key bicycling measures to be reviewed in next week’s hearings, two of which were filed by MassBike. What may be confusing is that these are listed as eight measures. This is because the bills have versions in both the House and the Senate, (hence the “H” and “S” designation below) which will be considered together in the Joint Committee on Transportation, which makes up or down recommendations before going to a full vote of the Legislature.

Whether in writing or in person, bicyclists statewide are encouraged by MassBike to participate in helping to secure passage of these measures. Should they not pass in 2016 it would be another two years before we could get these even considered.  Of note is that some of these bills would be critical to improve Massachusetts’ spot on the League of American Bicyclists’ Bike Friendly State rankings. Currently we are number four.

These are the bills under consideration:

Truck Side Guard Bill H. 3019/S. 1810

This bill would require side guards and convex mirrors on larger vehicles operating in Massachusetts. A significant percentage of the recent deaths and injuries of bicyclists in the Bay State have involved trucks making right turns in urban situations. This ordinance has been passed in Boston but has little application for trucks registered elsewhere. More than half of bicyclists killed by trucks hit the side of the truck first and are then swept beneath.

Learn more here: Truck Side Guards Explained

Bike Lane Bill H. 3072/S. 1808

This bill is pretty simple in that it would make standing or parking in a bike lane or other on-road bike facility a ticketable offense with a $100 fine. This is not just about the rights of bicyclists. This is a major safety issue for all road users and an environmental issue. The actions of those who double park or park in bike lanes have proven to cause traffic congestion that is often magnified for miles back into the transportation system, wasting fuel and producing unnecessary greenhouse gases.

For more on ways Boston is using interactive data to reduce double-parking and congestion, watch this video: Waze Data and Double Parking

Vulnerable Users Bill H. 3073/S. 1807

Commonly known as a three-feet law, this could be the most significant bill of the bunch for cyclists statewide. Passage of this bill could elevate Massachusetts into the top three of the League of American Bicyclists bike friendly rankings. This bill would require motorists to provide a minimum of three-feet when overtaking a “vulnerable user” even if it requires them to cross the centerline to do so. This bill would align cyclists with police, first responders, construction workers, pedestrians, and others defined as vulnerable users. Research indicates that bicyclists being struck from behind comprise 40 percent of fatalities. Likewise tow truck drivers report a death every six days and police report a fatality every month as they work on our roadways.

A fun look at the three-foot law in California.

Bike Path Crosswalk Bill S. 1809

Passage of this bill would make it legal for bicyclists to do what they are already doing: ride across a bike path crosswalk, provided they yield to pedestrians and operate with reasonable caution. More important it would require motorists to yield to bicyclists in those crosswalks. Current law provides legal protection only to pedestrians in crosswalks, even when they are set as part of a bike path. Currently bicyclists are technically supposed to walk through such intersections if they are to enjoy such protection. This is unrealistic and antiquated.

Any citizen may weigh in during these hearings, but MassBike is working alongside several other members of the Vision Zero Coalition to coordinate a powerful presentation of speakers. Those interested in testifying in support of these bills are urged to contact MassBike at bikeinfo@MassBike.org.

How else can you help?

Contact your lawmakers. For a sample letter and how to find your State Representative or State Senator click here.

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.


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