Making The Cape Great For Biking

We all knew the Cape was great for biking. All you have to do is go to the Bourne Bridge in the summer and take a look at all the bikes strapped to cars to know that the Cape is a destination for bicycling. But advocates on the Cape are actively working to make bicycling easier, more comfortable, and more convenient for tourists and year-rounders.

To discuss this effort more fully, Mass in Motion Barnstable County, in collaboration with MassBike and others, hosted the Cape Cod Bicycle Summit: Healthy Cyclists, Healthy Communities on Friday, November 8th. With 150 participants, this summit was a smashing success. There was a great conversation among residents and local, regional and statewide transportation and economic development experts.

The day started with remarks from State Senator Dan Wolf, a long-time Cape resident and founder of Cape Air (pictured right). He described his personal affinity for bicycling (it's always great to hear from elected officials who bike!) and the importance of bicycling on the Cape.

Speaking to statewide issues, Steve Woelfel of MassDOT and David Watson, MassBike's Executive Director, discussed how bicycling connects to statewide goals. David, in particular, described the excellent work in our communities that MassBike has been able to do through the Bikeable Communities Program, supported through statewide initiatives like Mass in Motion.

Speaking to the regional perspective, Thomas Cahir (Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority), Wendy Northcross (Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce), and Martha Hevenor (Cape Cod Commission) discussed the importance of bicycling to the local economy and ways in which the region is supporting bicycling. The three organizations represented were eager to discuss a new initiative which provides bike lights to the seasonal workers, who often ride after dark without any lights, and new signage that will go up on the Cape's myriad of bicycle routes.

Richard Fries from People for Bikes provided the closing remarks for the morning program. He spoke about the importance of branding (or re-branding) bicycling to get more people out there on bikes. His key message: take a cue from the car companies. We need to sell biking as cool, fun, and sexy - in short, as a lifestyle.

The day wrapped up with a basic bike advocacy training from Programs Director Price Armstrong (me). The presentation dealt with how to be effective in advocating for change at the local level, including building and maintaining relationships, staying focused, and not getting discouraged or burned out. Effective advocacy includes a balance of personal stories and data to convince decision makers that the pro-bike choice is the right choice.

Several initiatives emerged out of this, including the above-mentioned seasonal workers bike lights initiative and also a bike safety information direct mailing in two towns. A big thanks goes out to the conference organizers, including the Barnstable County Department of Human Services, the town of Barnstable, the Cape Cod Commission, the MassBike Cape and Islands Chapter (and especially Rob Miceli, chapter president), and the Office of Senator Dan Wolf. We are looking forward to continuing the good work on the Cape as these initiatives move forward.

As part of our Bikeable Communities Program, we offer a number of services, such as Bicycle Planning Assistance to facilitate a strategy for implementing bicycle-related projects, Bikeability Assessments to evaluate a community’s current state of bike-friendliness, and Bikeable Communities Trainings to help local advocates engage with key stakeholders and understand how to improve local infrastructure conditions.

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