Boston Reports Progress For Bikes

Boston's Director of Bike Programs, Nicole Freedman, presented a year-end report at the Boston Public Library on Thursday, December 10, 2009. The event was hosted by LivableStreets Alliance, with valet bike parking provided by MassBike.

Nicole updated the packed house on everything that the City of Boston has been doing to make Boston "a world-class bicycling city." For those of you unable to make it, here are some notes we took. If you would like read the full report click here (pdf).

The highlights:

  • Mayor Menino is the chair of a new Bicycling Task Force of the national Conference of Mayors

  • Boston has counted a 43% increase in bicycle ridership since the Boston Bikes program began in the Fall of 2007, while the recent national American Commuter Survey put the increase for Boston from 2007 to 2008 at 63% (from 1% to 1.6% of all trips)

  • In a recent survey of Boston bicyclists, 72.9% were interested in road upgrades (bike lanes, bike paths, fix potholes, etc); the next highest area of interest was bike parking at 16.7%

  • Boston has installed almost 15 miles of bike lanes since 2007

  • Nicole showed a chart that compared Boston's progress on installing bike lanes to a number of "bike-friendly" cities, but scaled as if those cities (including NYC, Seattle, Portland) and Boston were the same size; in that context, Boston appeared to be installing bike lanes at a faster rate than many other cities (Ed. note: We're not sure how to interpret this)

  • Nicole stated that Boston has the "barebones beginning of a network"

  • The City is looking at installing bike lanes on a number of streets, including Commonwealth (with bike boxes at intersections), Talbot, Boylston (possibly a buffered lane), Atlantic, and Commercial

  • The City installed 250 new racks in 2008, another 250 in 2009, and intends to continue at this pace; 75% of the racks have been located based on public requests

  • On-street parking (taking over a car parking space for bike parking) was successfully piloted at the Otherside Cafe on Newbury Street

  • The City continued a number of encouragement programs, including Bay State Bike Week, Bike Fridays, R.O.C.K. Roll & Ride, and youth cycling in public school

  • The youth cycling program involved 1300 youth in 2008-2009, with each youth participating in four session on a bike

  • The City established a bike pool for employees to get around during the day, with 30 bikes available at nine buildings

  • Bike Friendly Business Awards have been presented to 60 businesses

  • Two bicycle businesses, Geekhouse Bikes and Urban Adventours, received BLDC loans from the City to grow their businesses

  • The TD Bank Cycling Celebration brought the first pro bike race to Boston in 20 years, and culminated in the Hub On Wheels citywide bike ride

  • The Boston Public Health Commission ran a campaign to get kids to wear helmets - "Cooler in a Helmet"

  • The City's first bike map was printed, and all 40,000 copies were distributed

  • Stolen Bikes Boston Community Alert program started

  • The City passed an ordinance prohibiting cars from stopping or parking in a bike lane

Nicole also reported on some upcoming initiatives:

  • Working on a parking policy for new developments, requiring indoor secure bike parking and outdoor bike parking

  • Designing artistic bike racks for the City (probably with a design contest)

The biggest future initiative is the Bike Share Program:

  • Scheduled to launch in July 2010 with 1000 bikes at 85 stations

  • Over three years, will expand to 3000 bikes at 290 stations

  • The bikes are one-size-fits-all

  • The City is working with neighboring communities (such as Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville) to make the system regionally expandable

  • Nicole said bike share is "about all the people who don't bike"

  • Bike share programs are currently in 50 cities worldwide; Boston will be the first major US city

  • Nicole expects bike share to double bicycle ridership in Boston "almost instantly"

  • The bike share program is not quite a done deal yet - Nicole said negotiations with the selected vendor are continuing and the City is "hoping to sign a contract soon"

There is no doubt that Nicole Freedman and the City of Boston are engaged in many activities to improve conditions for bicyclists, and we've certainly come a long way in the first two years since Boston Bikes started. Thank you Boston! The upcoming bike share program presents both an opportunity and a challenge. It is an opportunity to dramatically increase the number of people riding bikes in Boston.The challenge for the City is to accelerate their efforts and do as much as possible before the bike share program launches next July, so we have a city ready to welcome all those new cyclists! MassBike looks forward to continuing our work with the City of Boston to reach that "world class" goal.

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