October Recap - a letter from Executive Director Richard Fries

I had intended this report to be more celebratory, given we did not record a single bicycle fatality in October. Mind you we were very busy helping to prepare for the November 19 World Day of Remembrance. We’re helping to drive a powerful report on the death of Dr. Anita Kurmann; we helped organize and attended the ghost bike service in Beverly for Peabody firefighter Dan Pimenta. And we also continued to work on the legacy of Joe Lavins, another talented doctor, of Lexington.

But I SO MUCH wanted to comment on the glorious light of October and pedaling about paths and trails and roads amid summer temperatures reluctant to leave us. Foliage rides in Fall River, Topsfield and Carlisle yielded experiences of near rapture for me. A trail ride with our board member Jon Brideau, including a detour for the Swamp Walk and a bakery, added to the gifts of the warmest October of recent record.

Special thanks to Ted Schwartz of the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen for the crab cakes near Horseneck Beach, where we can all be reminded of why we ride. I had flat-lined on safety and enforcement and crash data….Using malt vinegar, sea salt and sand, Ted resuscitated me.

The joy and freedom of the bike always, always, always supersedes the peril and pernicion of our roadways.

But in waiting to report on the conclusion of our Nov. 2 “Light Brigade” campaign we learned of the death of 19-year-old Antowani Wright of Dorchester. He was killed Nov. 3 by a dump truck along a route popular among cyclists in that neighborhood of Boston. We’ll stay on the task of investigating his death and that crash. We know that 18 percent of all statewide bike fatalities since 2015 have involved large vehicles. And not once have charges been filed against the drivers.

We were happy this month to retain our status as the League’s number four ranked state in America. MassBike helped grow the number of Bike Friendly Businesses to 41. And the number of Bike Friendly Communities and Universities also grew, making us a rising star nationally. If we can convince Beacon Hill to pass a three-foot passing rule as part of our “Omni-bike” bill (H.2877/S.1545) we could vault a few spots.

What else went on in October? Check it out:

  • Our Light Brigade program was a major success, thanks to supporters like you, raising a total of $7,170.50, exceeding our fundraising goal! We were able to fan out November 2nd to distribute lights at bike co-ops, earn-a-bike programs, state universities and community colleges, and key areas and intersections around the state.

  • We kicked things into high gear with education. We hosted the LAB's Traffic Skills 101 class, a key prerequisite for training more League Certified Instructors and continued our Safe Routes to School work in  Bourndale, Cambridge, and Medford.

  • We reached a wide audience with presentations and consultations at The Travelers Institute, Boston College, The Bikeway Source, The North Shore Cyclists annual meeting in Topsfield, Belmont Wheelworks, and The Agawam Rotary Club.

  • Our team also remained steadfast in the quiet, constant work of basic advocacy. Either through attending rallies, speaking at hearings, or writing letters we weighed in on the following:
    • Fall River, where a developer threatened to “re-locate” the recently dedicated Alfred J. Lima Quequechon River Rail Trail, one of the few pieces of bike infrastructure in South East Massachusetts. 
    • Chelsea, where we weighed in on the key corridor of Beacham Street, the lone - but hideous - corridor for any bike rider from Revere, East Boston, Chelsea or Winthrop trying to pedal to or from Boston. 
    • Cambridge and the Longfellow Bridge, which is a vital corridor for MetroBoston riders. Recent plans called for two car lanes inbound, proven to be needless during reconstruction, despite huge bicycle volume. 
    • We also attended MassDOT’s “Listening Session” to provide input setting general priorities for the coming years.

  • And through our presence on MassDOT’s Design Exception Review Committee we press for the accommodation of bicycles in several locations statewide. Just some of those projects we are following include: 
    • Melnea Cass Boulevard, Boston
    • Route 9, Hadley 
    • Highland Avenue, Needham
    • Ashley Boulevard, New Bedford 
    • Commonwealth Avenue, Boston
    • Route 133, Boxford 
    • The Blackstone River Bikeway, Worcester
    • State Street/Maple Street, Belchertown
    • Broadway, Chelsea 
    • Route 97, Georgetown
    • Boylston Street, Boston

We still have so much work to do. Thanks to you for your efforts, your time, donations, and support. We remain working on your behalf, our members. Stay tuned for more big news after November.

Not a member? Join today and support our efforts.

Thanks for reading.

Richard

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