On December 6th, advocates from across the commonwealth joined MassBike's Annual Meeting for a packed hour of virtual programming, co-hosted by MassBike Board member Kristen Sykes and MassBike Executive Director Galen Mook.
"Our annual meetings are a chance to showcase some of our accomplishments from the past year, and highlight key partners in our coalition. This year we celebrated our work on e-bikes, including key legislation and equity programs that will allow more people across the commonwealth to experience the joys of bicycling," said Galen. “We of course do none our work alone and are grateful for the collaborations from our members, partner organization, legislators and policy makers, and our generous sponsors and donors.”
To set the tone for the meeting, Galen outlined MassBike's 2022 Accomplishments, including our e-bike legislation, Worcester E-Bike Program, intergenerational work with older adults, and successful Bay State Bike Month this past May. Galen highlighted Massachusett's #1 Bike-Friendly State ranking from the League of American Bicyclists and how MassBike continues to work towards more bike-friendly policies across the commonwealth. Many of our key 2022 accomplishments were discussed in greater depth later in the program, starting with the recently passed e-bike definition and e-bike rebate bills.
Representative Dylan Fernandes and Representative Natalie Blais joined for a Legislative Panel discussion moderated by Kristen and Galen. During the panel, the Representatives discussed their work surrounding e-bike legislation and MassBike's role in legislative advocacy. The Representatives stressed that both the e-bike definition and e-bike rebate bills were ideas brought to them by constituents.
"Everyone on this call knows the incredible health benefits of e-bikes," said Rep Fernandes. "As people age, they need some assist. And so e-bikes in particular for my community really help people through healthy aging. That was in large part how I came about [e-bike legislation]."
Rep Fernandes and Rep Blais see these legislative wins as the first steps towards increasing access to e-bikes as a transportation solution across the commonwealth.
"I live in Western Massachusetts, and Dylan's on the Cape. We represent a lot of rural communities and I think a lot of times e-bikes are viewed as an urban solution," said Rep Blais. "But we certainly see this as a rural solution. As well as we're looking at addressing first and last-mile transportation gaps."
As for what's next with e-bike legislation, both Representatives urged MassBike supporters to stay engaged. Rep Blais noted that there will be a formal process through the Capital Improvement Plan Process to allow individuals to weigh in on how e-bike rebates should be rolled out. Many logistical questions surrounding the e-bike rebate implementation, like whether the rebates will be retroactive, are currently under consideration. When details about this process or any information about e-bike rebates become available, MassBike will be providing updates on our e-bikes page.
After our engaging Legislative panel, Alex Salcedo, MassBike's Worcester E-Bike Grant Manager, presented a program update that included an overview of the work and some early data. At the time of the meeting, 89 of the 100 available e-bikes had been distributed to low-income individuals in Worcester. Alex provided an overview of our program goals and shared a little bit about the data we've collected thus far.
"Back in August, our participants rode heavily for recreational purposes and these helped them get more comfortable riding their e-bikes," said Alex. "As months go by, our riders are shifting their usage to other categories to use our e-bikes for shopping more frequently."
The trip data tells a compelling story about how the participants are using e-bikes for transportation and Alex noted that MassBike will continue to engage with the riders to help them overcome barriers they're experiencing to enable them to ride more.
After Alex's presentation, we viewed the E-Bike Participant Video and heard from e-bike riders themselves. The video was truly the highlight of the evening, as all of the excitement for the program shone through. MassBike plans to share more about the Worcester E-Bike Program in the coming months, and we hope you can join us for our community rides & events in Worcester which will begin again in Spring 2023.
After hearing from our e-bike participants, Galen transitioned into a short presentation bout MassBike's Older Adult Programming. In 2022, we worked with the City of Cambridge's Community Development Department on the Cambridge Healthy Aging series and with AARP Massachusetts on our Intergenerational Bicycling Series in Worcester.
"Our older adult programming is probably one of my favorite aspects of MassBike's work because it's helping people get out into the real world and helping them overcome barriers," said Galen.
In Cambridge, the Healthy Aging series incorporated on-the-bike skills sessions and rides where we took older adults out on the trails, pathways, and bike lanes in the urban areas of the City. In Worcester, our intergenerational series with AARP focused on getting youth an older adults riding together to create community.
Galen closed out the formal program by recognizing our MassBike Advocate of the Year, Lilly Worth. Lilly has been a superstar volunteer for both our Lights Brigade and bike valet initiatives in Boston. She even DIY'd a special light-up sign for Lights Brigade distributions, as you can see in this photo where she attaches lights to a recipient's bike.
"I'm extremely impressed at how the organization has grown," said Lilly. "And the kind of coalition that we are building. So it is always super fun to volunteer and I look forward to what is coming next."
After the formal programming, we had about 25 minutes of small group break-out sessions giving attendees a chance to connect with fellow better bicycling advocates across the state.
We appreciate everyone who joined the 2022 Annual Meeting and want to give special thanks to Kristen Sykes for co-hosting and Representative Dylan Fernandes and Representative Natalie Blais for joining our legislative panel discussion.
You can view our Annual Meeting in full or the individual segments on the MassBike Youtube Channel. Please see the list of available recordings below:
Thanks to the generous support of the MassBike Board, you can double your impact when you become a new MassBike member this December. We hope you enjoyed our Annual Meeting and will consider donating to MassBike today to support better bicycling across the commonwealth.
Our Board will DOUBLE the first $8,500 of donations from new MassBike members this December. Please give generously today.