A huge thank you to everyone who participated in our April Bike Challenge. We hope that the challenge encouraged you to get biking and served at a kickstart to the riding season. We had a hardy group of riders who took a trip every single day last month and we loved seeing everyone's updates on the MassBike Love to Ride group.
Another huge thank you to Cleverhood for graciously donating three rover rain capes for our challenge. The winners of the capes are:
- Adam Shutes
- Brian Pearson
- Jane Wang
We hope all of our April challengers join for our May Challenge and chose a day each week to commute by bike. All of these challenges are leading up to Bay State Bike Month in September during which we hope to be able to ride with you in person to celebrate.
by Chrystal Walsh
The truck camper was loaded up with their bicycles and a canoe. My grandparents traveled by air perhaps only three times in their lives, but from their Massachusetts home they knew the eastern seaboard from Canada to Florida well. A dog-eared book of maps moved between their vehicle and home, and my grandmother documented their travels, tracking fuel prices, campground rates and favorite camp sites, and where and how far they biked or canoed. Sadly these log books were thrown away during my grandmother’s Alzheimers, but some photos remain with handwritten notes on the back showing the sites and people they visited. Their appreciation for adventure, nature, and exercise lives on in me, an occasional participant in their journeys.
My mother, my grandparent’s youngest daughter, became a paraplegic at age 19 from a car accident. Gender, generation, and handicap limitations definitely impacted my mom’s life story, and my dad, well that’s a whole other blog. But as a child, I helped my mom reach things on the grocery store shelves and was allowed to ride my bicycle solo into town to get basic necessities and a candy or Slush Puppie treat for myself.
Outside of a cousin having to teach me how to ride a bike, my childhood bicycling experience was what I consider traditional. Riding to a friend’s house, bicycling to my first job at a local seafood restaurant, and occasionally riding a round trip 6 miles to my grandparent’s to swim in their in-ground pool. I wasn’t much of an athlete and after college and a move to the Bay Area of California, I would bicycle to the train station for work, until theft took its toll. Two bikes later I switched to walking.
Fast forward 20 years and I am married and balancing the needs of my children, aging relatives, and work. I had been living in Western Pennsylvania, in my husband’s hometown, with a long car commute for work in Pittsburgh. Exercise was at the bottom of my to-do list, but Covid changed everything. Daily walks became a part of our new family routine and soon we decided to try bicycling a 50-mile rail trail spread out over several weeks. We were hooked on cycling as a fun family activity!Read more
Update: After posting this article, Springfield re-opened their ValleyBike system.
On April 22nd, West Springfield launched their ValleyBike system with a station outside the West Springfield Public Library making it the seventh city/town to join the regional bike share network. The West Springfield system is made up of two stations for now; the second is located on the corner of Memorial Ave and Union St where a major complete streets project is planned to take place.
Just a few days later, on April 24th, Easthampton launched a new station on Parsons Street. ValleyBike came to Easthampton in 2019 during the second year of the regional program and Parsons Street is the city's fifth bike share station. The launch in West Springfield and Easthampton addition is just the beginning of ValleyBike’s planned expansions in 2021.Read more
Mark your calendars, Bay State Bike Month is happening this September. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we’re hosting Bay State Bike Month in September again with the hopes of hosting in-person events. This year’s Bay State Bike Month will include social media challenges, the annual MassCommute Bicycle Challenge, and more! All with the chance to win great prizes and celebrate bicycling across the commonwealth.
We’ll be posting information about Bay State Bike Month on www.baystatebikemonth.org. Just as in previous years, we will have a calendar of events where you can submit your local bike events. Every year, we love to see all the bike breakfasts, rides, and other bicycling-centric events across the state. Last year those events were successfully shifted to a virtual format, but we hope that this September we will be able to ride together again in person to celebrate.
Each month leading up to September, we’re hosting monthly ride challenges to encourage you to get biking. By participating in our monthly challenges, you’ll have a chance to win prizes, ride some miles, and encourage others to get biking. In May, we’re challenging you to Bike to Work, Bike to School, or Bike Before Your First Meeting.
To stay in the know about Bay State Bike Month and MassBike’s Monthly Challenges, join our mailing list to get email updates and make sure you are following MassBike on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We are currently deep into planning and working on obtaining sponsorships. If your business would like to sponsor Bay State Bike Month or a Monthly Challenge, please contact Chrystal at [email protected].
In May, we're challenging you to commute one day a week by bike or to take a bike ride before your workday starts once a week to simulate a bike commute. Everyone who "commutes" by bike one day a week and logs their trips on the MassBike Love to Ride Group will be entered to win some MassBike prizes. By joining Love to Ride and logging your trips in May, you will also be eligible to win prizes from the National Bike Challenge.
Join the May Challenge:
- Join the MassBike Group on Love to Ride
- Take one "commute" by bike each week in May
- Log your trips on Love to Ride & mark them as "transport to or from work"
If you participated in our April Challenge on Love to Ride, you will be automatically entered for our May Challenge once you log a commute trip in May. Just make sure to tag your commuting trips as "transport to or from work" in Love to Ride.
We'd love to see photos from your bike commutes, make sure to tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and let us know about your rides. This is part of our monthly ride challenge series leading up to Bay State Bike Month in September.
The legislative calendar comes in fits and spurts, with multiple tracks and parallel courses for legislative priorities to make their way through the State House in order to become law. MassBike works through the complication and confusion in our pursuit of several legislative priorities this session, including bills that would make for safer roads, to clarify electric bicycle regulations, promote bike commuting, and to fund rail trails and other infrastructure. We are also supportive of programs that promote health and wellness, support equity and combat racism, and tackle the existential crisis of climate change.
At this point in the two-year legislative session timeline that started in January, the bills have been filed and have made their ways to various committees, and we are awaiting hearings on the bills so we can present our support (and opposition) to specific pieces of legislation. This will happen in the coming months in spring and early summer.
However, more rapidly approaching is the debate about the State’s budget, which is being presented both from the Governor’s Budget as well the House Ways and Means. These budgets are big and dense, full of amendments, and cover pretty much the entirety of what the State is attempting to accomplish in the coming year. These budget bills also include provisions that MassBike is tracking related to bicycle safety, and this is where you come in!
We are asking our members to contact your State Representatives to co-sponsor two key amendments, and support these amendments in the budget debate.Read more
For the past several years, MassBike’s popular #LightsBrigade program has been brightening up cyclists across the commonwealth. Each winter, we’ve worked with volunteers, bicycle clubs, and civic & municipal groups across the commonwealth to distribute free bike lights to help cyclists be legal and seen when riding at night. We are thrilled to be able to expand this popular program thanks to a new partnership with Delta Cycle and their Bkin lights.
MassBike’s #LightsBrigade by Bkin is on a mission to shine bright lights across the commonwealth year-round. Many riders find themselves out at night without the required lights to help them stay visible to drivers and others on the roads and paths, and also be in compliance with the law. The #LightsBrigade by Bkin program engages riders where they are, on the roads and paths, and provides free bicycle lights. Previously our #LightsBrigade program ran during the dark winter months. Now, thanks to the support from Delta Cycle, we’ll be handing out free lights during the spring and summer months when the streets are busy with bicyclists of all ages.
As part of this new partnership, we will be distributing Bkin lights across the commonwealth. Bkin lights have a powerful built-in battery, their bike tail light lasts up to 20 hours per charge. Bkin lights plug directly into a USB port for a quick, easy and cord-free charge. You can learn more about their lights at www.thebkin.com.
MassBike’s #LightsBrigade by Bkin program will work with local bicycle clubs, civic & municipal groups, and volunteers to distribute free front and rear bike lights in the following ten regions: Berkshires, Cape & Islands, Connecticut River Valley, Central MA, Greater Boston, Metrowest, Nashoba Valley, North Shore, South Coast, South Shore. We are actively recruiting volunteers to help support light distribution events. If you’re interested in volunteering, please email [email protected] for more information.
- Our statewide bicycling education efforts
- Legislative updates
- How you can volunteer
Have a topic you want to bring up? Submit your questions via the comments below.
This is the first in a series of monthly lunchtime updates. Every fourth Monday of the month, MassBike will host a virtual chat to fill you in on our work, give you a chance to ask questions, and let us know what you’ve been working on in your community.
April’s 30 Days of Biking challenge is almost halfway through and at MassBike we’ve been enjoying getting on our bikes every day. For your daily dose of 30 Days of Biking encouragement, make sure you are following us on social media. The MassBike team has been bringing supporters along for our rides on the MassBike Facebook page and in the MassBike Instagram stories.
As part of the MassBike April Challenge, Riders who take trips every day this month & log their rides on the MassBike Group on Love to Ride will be entered to win a Rover Rain Cape from Cleverhood. If you have been participating in 30 Days of Biking, you can still join the MassBike Challenge & log your previous trips.
For those of you who may have missed the beginning of the April challenge, you can still join in the daily biking fun. We’ll be raffling off weekly MassBike prize packs for riders who ride every day for a week in a row and log their trips on the MassBike Group on Love to Ride. MassBike prize packs will include MassBike branded and bike-themed mystery items.Read more
A Guest Post by Zach O’Brien
Biking has many advantages over driving a car and biking obviously improves one’s own health, but did you know that biking also increases a city's well-being? In the fall of 2007, when New York City put in their first protected bike lane (a lane separating bike lanes from car traffic using permanent barriers, such as Jersey barriers or medians), the stores along the bike route reported a 49% increase in sales versus a 3% increase in the rest of the city.
According to the U.S. Bicycling Participation Benchmarking Study Report from 2015, 15% of all Americans (45.1 million Americans) had ridden a bike at least once a year for transportation purposes. That might appear to be a high percentage until one delves a little deeper. Of that 15%, only 11% of those people rode their bikes to work 104 days a year or more. If we consider this, only 1.65% (4.96 million) people in America are committed to cycling as a means of transit.
How would these US biking statistics compare to another country? The Netherlands may be an extreme example, but a good role model nonetheless. According to the Special Eurobarometer 422a Quality of Transport report from 2014, when asked about their preferred modes of transport, Netherlanders used their bicycles 36% of the time. The United States has a long way to go to catch up to these bicyclists!
The U.S. Department of Transportation reported in 2010 that 86.1% of people in the United States used cars as their main means for commuting. However, the story is a bit different for dense urban cities that were established before the widespread use of cars. In these areas, the percentage of people who commute by car is far less than in other areas of the country. Dense urban areas have different modes of commuting than their less-urban counterparts. In 2010, the New York City Department of City Planning reported that fewer than 5% of the people who work in Manhattan drive a car to work. While cars remain undeniably important to the transportation needs of much of the US, dense urban areas work differently. Many other large cities in the US have similar patterns when it comes to commuting.
A promising trend is developing; from 2000-2009 in Chicago, New York City, Boston, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington DC, the relative number of people who commuted by car decreased from 6.0 to 12.7%. At the same time, the number of people who cycled increased from 50.2 to 230.0%, maybe we have headed in the right direction after all!Read more