Why Bicyclists Should Care About The T's Financial Crisis

MassBike exists to serve the bicycling community, and that is our focus. But we also take a broad view of our transportation system and how bicycling fits into it. To advance those efforts, in 2011 MassBike joined a new coalition of transportation-related organizations, Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA), working for an environmentally sustainable, reliable and affordable transportation system. MassBike's participation will strengthen the coalition's efforts around active and sustainable transportation, and the diverse viewpoints within T4MA will inform our own work for better bicycling.

The first major challenge faced by T4MA is the recently announced MBTA proposal to both increase fares and cut service. The MBTA projects that its revenues this year cannot support service at its current levels. T4MA opposes the proposal, and MassBike agrees that the MBTA's proposal would not be good for bicyclists. In our view, the T's proposal would significantly reduce existing opportunities for bicyclists to use bicycles in combination with public transportation, creating a barrier to biking.

You only need to look at the hundreds of bicycles parked at MBTA stations, even on frigid days like today, to see that many bicyclists are transit users and many people use bicycles to access the T. Some bicyclists, like other transit users, may simply be unable to afford a fare increase. Others will be affected if the trains, buses, or boats they rely on are eliminated. For example, we have analyzed the two bus service cut scenarios put forth by the T, the second of which would impact over 70% of bus routes that are currently equipped with bicycle racks. The MBTA has been a strong partner in improving bike access on its system, and MassBike has been working with them for many years to fully equip the bus fleet with bike racks. This project was expected to be completed this year, and the elimination of so many routes that are already accessible to bicyclists is an unacceptable leap backward.

Public meetings on the proposed fare increases and service cuts begin tonight in Newton and Worcester, tomorrow in Chelsea, and Thursday in Roxbury. More meetings continue in the following weeks all over the MBTA service region - see the calendar on our homepage for details. If you are a bicyclist whose mobility would be affected by MBTA fare increases or service cuts, please attend a public meeting or send your written comments to [email protected] Make your voice heard! MassBike will continue to work with T4MA and the MBTA to find an acceptable way forward.

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