Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition

MassBike advocates for policies that encourage and support community wellness, equity, and inclusion, enable sustainable growth, drive economic vitality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

MassBike’s Vision for the Future
Bicycling in Massachusetts is a safe, respected, convenient, and enjoyable way to get around. Roads throughout the state are safe and welcoming for cyclists, and all users interact in a courteous and legal manner. Car-free pathways connect our communities, bicycles are fully integrated into our public transportation system, and secure bike parking is located where people need it. People of all kinds and means choose to bicycle for life, work, and play.

  • MassBike Updates

    CPA Funding for Rail-Trail Acquisition Included in Governor's Budget

    On Friday, July 16th, Governor Baker signed the FY2022 budget which included sweeping funding and policy measures that will impact all of the Commonwealth. Included in this budget is a little known, yet crucially important, piece of policy that will help the state build its rail-trail network, specifically helping municipalities fund the acquisition of rights of ways by allowing them to use Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding to purchase federally rail banked rail corridors for the development of trails. CPA funds are municipal taxes collected to be directed by City or Town committees and to be used for the purposes of creating affordable housing, funding historic preservation, and supporting open space for communities. Rail-trails, of course, fall into the category of open space. And this change to the CPA law would clarify that, if a municipality were to choose, they can use CPA funds to acquire rail right-of-way corridors.

    This slight clarification of the CPA funding usage is absolutely key in a few places in the commonwealth where municipalities have the intention to spend their own CPA dollars to acquire rail-trail corridors but have faced challenges from opposing arguments using the fact that most rail-trail rights of ways are transferred over with long-term leases (perhaps 99 years) and not in perpetuity, since the National Trails System Act of 1983 stipulated railbanking as a voluntary agreement between a railroad company and a trail agency to use an out-of-service rail corridor as a trail until a railroad might need the corridor again for rail service. This interim trail use of railbanked corridors has preserved thousands of miles of rail corridors that would otherwise have been abandoned, however opponents to rail-trails claim that in the rare case a corridor could, by law, convert back to rail use, then CPA funds can be challenged for this use. However, this has not once happened in Massachusetts where a rail-trail corridor has converted back to rail use.

    And as land from rail trails usually comes together in a piecemeal fashion, it’s more of putting together a massive puzzle with pieces placed incongruously throughout the state, which is a difficult task considering the large number of landowners, abutters, and jurisdictions that these corridors impact. A rail-trail network and route is only as good as its weakest link, even if we have 110-miles of a trail planned out, such as the case with the Mass Central Rail Trail which will eventually go from Boston to Northampton, just one missing puzzle piece means we don’t have a contiguous and connected network.

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    INVEST Act Passes House: Includes Major Wins for Bicycling

    The House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 3684– the INVEST Act and it includes some major wins for better bicycling across the country and in Massachusetts. The League of American Bicyclists recently outlined the amendments to the INVEST Act that improve transportation equity and safety. There were some overarching themes within the bill that would bolster bicycling improvement across the country and several bike-friendly projects within Massachusetts are slated for funding thanks to our hard-working elected officials in Washington. 

    Increased roadway safety for vulnerable road users was a key concern within the bill. VisionZero was included as part of the safety effort and specifically mentioned a focus on equity and impact on mitigating enforcement concerns for minority and low-income riders. The Safe Routes to Schools program will be expanded to the High School level if the bill is enacted, which means more students across Massachusetts will gain access to bicycling safety instruction.

    Climate was called out as a concern within the bill, with money going towards infrastructure projects that would bolster multi-modal transportation options such as bicycling, walking, and public transportation. An electric bicycle definition & classifications, which align with the current e-bike bill we support in Massachusetts, were included and electric bicycles were specifically named in the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program which could enable funding for more e-bike sharing systems.

    The INVEST Act also includes funding for several key projects in Massachusetts. Representatives got to include member-designated projects into the bill and Massachusetts Representatives were successful at getting several key trails and complete streets projects in the bill. The Bourne Rail Trail project will receive $14.7 million in funding if the bill is enacted. The funding would be enough to cover the construction of phases 1, 2, and 4 of the trail, which will connect Falmouth’s Shining Sea Bikeway to the Cape Cod Canal. Several other trails projects were included from across the state, like the North Adams Adventure Trail, which will connect the bike trail in Williamstown into downtown North Adams, and Belmont Community Path, a key connector of the Mass Central Rail TrailThank you to our Massachusetts Representatives for including projects that will make bicycling better for every rider across Massachusetts and ensuring that this bill puts transportation equity & safety at the forefront– we're proud to have such great advocates in Washington.

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