Massachusetts Avenue and Appleton Design Update

August 26, 2021

A Guest Post by: Petru Sofio


Massachusetts Avenue and Appleton Street in Arlington has always been a dangerous intersection. Odd geometry, antiquated traffic signals, and sun glare issues make for confusing and sometimes fatal conditions. On May 5th, 2020, Charlie Proctor, and his partner, Alison, were biking home when Charlie was struck by a left-turning driver who crossed in front of their path. The crash was fatal for Charlie. He died just three weeks before his 28th birthday.

A month later, an eerily similar crash occurred at the intersection, when a driver crossed the lanes while turning left onto Appleton Street and struck a bicyclist, who luckily survived but was placed in the hospital for months with major injuries and a lifetime of physical therapy and recovery. In response to these incidents, Arlington promptly had their police department ban the deadly left turn every day during the pm peak hour. 

After these collisions, Arlington’s Select Board approved a Design Review Committee, consisting of the town’s transportation planner, Department of Public Works, Arlington Police Department, three residents, an Ottoson Middle School representative, a business representative, and a representative from a nearby church. The goal was to create a short-term solution to improve safety for vulnerable road users at this intersection, get it approved by the Town, and implement it as quickly as possible.

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MA Bike-Friendly Bills Update - August 2021

August 26, 2021

During our August Meet-Up, MassBike was joined by some of our key legislative partners for a Massachusetts bike-friendly bills update. We discussed the six bills MassBike is supporting this session and what MassBike supports can do to help them become laws. Thank you to our legislative partners who took time out of their summer recess to provide an update on the bike-friendly bills they're supporting this session, we appreciate having such great advocates working for better bicycling in the State House.

We were joined by Representative Lindsay Sabadosa (1st Hampshire), Representative Tommy Vitolo (15th Norfolk), Representative Steve Owens (29th Middlesex), Senator Sal DiDomenico (Middlesex and Suffolk, and Senator Will Brownsberger (2nd Suffolk and Middlesex) who gave updates on the bike-friendly bills they’re championing this session and answered questions from attendees. Representative Natalie Blais (1st Franklin) provided prerecorded remarks about her bill, An act relative to electric bicycle rebates. You can view the recording on MassBike’s YouTube Channel and check out the slideshow presentation to learn more about the status of these crucial bills. Below you can find a list of the bills discussed and how you can take action to help these bills become laws.

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Back on the Bike - Helping Older Adults Get Riding

August 19, 2021

In 2020, MassBike teamed up with the City of Cambridge’s Community Development Department to help get older adults back on the bike and out riding. The program included virtual sessions with information ranging from bicycle maintenance to adaptive bike options. The series of virtual workshops were meant to provide resources and encouragement to enable our older generation to get bicycling again. It was just the beginning of a growing program to help get older adults back on the bike.

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Bike Valet Helps Riders Go By Bike

August 19, 2021

Biking to an event has lots of benefits- a little bit of extra exercise, community when you ride with friends, and getting to make an environmentally-friendly trip instead of using a polluting vehicle. But there is always the question, is there a secure place to park my bike when I get there?

Bike Valet helps make community events more bike-friendly and makes the decision to go by bike an easy one by providing free and a secure bike parking location. As community events pick up, our bike valet programming is being offered across the state. 

This program is made possible by our amazing volunteers that assist with the valet by parking bikes, watching over them during the event, and ensuring that they are safely returned to their owners. 

Do you have an event that could use a bike valet? Get in touch with us at [email protected] and we can work with you to help make your event more bike-friendly.

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Car-Free Martha's Vineyard Family Adventure

August 13, 2021

For five glorious days and four nights, my family (twin 8-year-old girls, husband, and I), spent a car-free vacation in Martha’s Vineyard at the end of June with four other families and despite my husband’s doubts about not bringing the car over, I am happy to say that family biking in Martha’s Vineyard is not only doable but a ton of fun! Plus, we saved money by not bringing the car on the ferry.

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August MassBike Meet-Up - Legislative Update

August 11, 2021

Supporting bike-friendly legislation is one of the key ways MassBike helps make Massachusetts better for every bicyclist. In this legislative session, we are supporting bills that will make our roadways safer, help support e-bikes in Massachusetts, and more. 

On Monday, August 23rd at noon, join our virtual August Meet-Up to get an update on bike-friendly bills in MA from MassBike's Executive Director, Galen Mook. We will be joined by key legislative partners who are championing their bills, including Representative Natalie Blais (1st Franklin) Representative Lindsay Sabadosa (1st Hampshire), Representative Tommy Vitolo (15th Norfolk), Representative Steve Owens (29th Middlesex), Senator Will Brownsberger (2nd Suffolk and Middlesex), and Senator Sal DiDomencio (Middlesex and Suffolk). Learn about the bills we're supporting, their status, and what you can do to support our legislative work.

Rep Natalie M. Blais - 1st Franklin Rep Lindsay N. Sabadosa - 1st Hampshire Rep Tommy Vitolo - 15th Norfolk Rep Steven C. Owens - 29th Middlesex
Sen William N. Brownsberger - Second Suffolk and Middlesex Sen Sal N. DiDomenico - Middlesex and Suffolk

At the virtual meet-up we will also discuss a recent win for our regional trails network and let you know a little bit about what's going on with bike-friendly bills on the Federal level. RSVP at the link below and we look forward to seeing you there.

RSVP

 

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August Bike Challenge - Bike for a Better World

August 05, 2021

Join MassBike in biking for a better world this August by highlighting your favorite ride that fundraiser for or draws attention to causes that help improve our world. While bicycles improve our lives on a daily basis, riders across the commonwealth often join rides to fundraise for important causes that help improve our world. Whether the ride is drawing attention to important causes that improve our worldfunding life-saving research, helping to end hunger, or preserving our natural environment, they all help to make the world a better place through bicycling.

In 2020, many of these important rides were put on hiatus, and we want to give them some love and lift up all the important causes bicyclists across Massachusetts are riding for.

How to Participate:

  • Share a photo from your favorite charity ride, ride for an important cause, or from a training ride & tell us how the event enables you to ride for a better world!
  • Either tag @MassBike in your ride for a better world post on social media or email us a photo and sentence about how you ride for a better world to [email protected] to be featured on the Bay State Bike Month website.
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$4 Million in MassTrails Grants will increase trail connectivity statewide

August 05, 2021

Photo by the Sandwich Bikeways & Pedestrian Committee

Governor Baker recently visited the Cape Cod Canal to announce $4 million in MassTrails grants for communities across the commonwealth. This latest round of investment in our trails network will help increase connectivity and help push forward our growing statewide network of shared-use pathways.

The MassTrails grants awarded to the City of Westfield and the Town of Southampton will move forward the final pieces of the New Haven & Northampton Canal Greenway, an 81-mile multi-use pathway that connects Connecticut and Massachusetts. The City of Westfield received $61,500 towards a feasibility study for the northern terminus of the Columbia Greenway. While the Town of Southampton secured $100k for the purchase of 3.5 miles of inactive railroad corridor to begin filling in the "missing middle" portion of the trail between Easthampton and Westfield. The ability to use Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding for federally rail-banked trail acquisition, which was recently included in the budget passed by Governor Baker, is a huge win for Southampton who can now use both CPA funds and their MassTrails grant to secure the purchase of the rail corridor for their trail.

Crucial links of the Mass Central Rail Trail (MCRT), a 104-mile trail connecting Northampton to Boston, received funding thanks to MassTrails grants awarded to the East Quabbin Land Trust and the Town of Belchertown. The East Quabbin Land Trust received $200k for the construction of the MCRT trail section through Ware and Hardwick. The Town of Belchertown’s $33,066 grant will help fund the design of Phase II of their Belchertown Greenway-MCRT segment.

On the Cape, the town of Sandwich received a $155k to fund the project development of an important connection from Route 130 to the Cape Cod Canal path. This connection would improve the trail connectivity along the Cape, making it easier for residents and visitors alike to take advantage of the beautiful trail network.

Out in the Berkshires, Pittsfield received $133,600 for the design of a southern extension of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail and North Adams received $240k towards the development of the North Adams Adventure Trail which would connect the northern section of the Ashuwillticook to the Williamstown Bike Path. Advocates in the Berkshires have been working on a connected pathway from Connecticut to Vermont for over 20 years; these two trail sections will help bring them closer to their goal of a safe cycling route through the Berkshires. 

These projects are just a small sampling of the trails that received funding from the latest MassTrails grant round. You can check out the entire list of awardees on the MassTrails Grants site and learn more about the program. This investment in our trails network is a big win and the MassTrails team has been working hard to help assist the growth of trails across Massachusetts. Their recent Mass Central Rail Trail Feasibility Study and Shared Use Paths Impact Study have provided advocates across the state with the data needed to help fill in network gaps and fight for more trails.

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CPA Funding for Rail-Trail Acquisition Included in Governor's Budget

July 21, 2021

On Friday, July 16th, Governor Baker signed the FY2022 budget which included sweeping funding and policy measures that will impact all of the Commonwealth. Included in this budget is a little known, yet crucially important, piece of policy that will help the state build its rail-trail network, specifically helping municipalities fund the acquisition of rights of ways by allowing them to use Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding to purchase federally rail banked rail corridors for the development of trails. CPA funds are municipal taxes collected to be directed by City or Town committees and to be used for the purposes of creating affordable housing, funding historic preservation, and supporting open space for communities. Rail-trails, of course, fall into the category of open space. And this change to the CPA law would clarify that, if a municipality were to choose, they can use CPA funds to acquire rail right-of-way corridors.

This slight clarification of the CPA funding usage is absolutely key in a few places in the commonwealth where municipalities have the intention to spend their own CPA dollars to acquire rail-trail corridors but have faced challenges from opposing arguments using the fact that most rail-trail rights of ways are transferred over with long-term leases (perhaps 99 years) and not in perpetuity, since the National Trails System Act of 1983 stipulated railbanking as a voluntary agreement between a railroad company and a trail agency to use an out-of-service rail corridor as a trail until a railroad might need the corridor again for rail service. This interim trail use of railbanked corridors has preserved thousands of miles of rail corridors that would otherwise have been abandoned, however opponents to rail-trails claim that in the rare case a corridor could, by law, convert back to rail use, then CPA funds can be challenged for this use. However, this has not once happened in Massachusetts where a rail-trail corridor has converted back to rail use.

And as land from rail trails usually comes together in a piecemeal fashion, it’s more of putting together a massive puzzle with pieces placed incongruously throughout the state, which is a difficult task considering the large number of landowners, abutters, and jurisdictions that these corridors impact. A rail-trail network and route is only as good as its weakest link, even if we have 110-miles of a trail planned out, such as the case with the Mass Central Rail Trail which will eventually go from Boston to Northampton, just one missing puzzle piece means we don’t have a contiguous and connected network.

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INVEST Act Passes House: Includes Major Wins for Bicycling

July 16, 2021

The House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 3684– the INVEST Act and it includes some major wins for better bicycling across the country and in Massachusetts. The League of American Bicyclists recently outlined the amendments to the INVEST Act that improve transportation equity and safety. There were some overarching themes within the bill that would bolster bicycling improvement across the country and several bike-friendly projects within Massachusetts are slated for funding thanks to our hard-working elected officials in Washington. 

Increased roadway safety for vulnerable road users was a key concern within the bill. VisionZero was included as part of the safety effort and specifically mentioned a focus on equity and impact on mitigating enforcement concerns for minority and low-income riders. The Safe Routes to Schools program will be expanded to the High School level if the bill is enacted, which means more students across Massachusetts will gain access to bicycling safety instruction.

Climate was called out as a concern within the bill, with money going towards infrastructure projects that would bolster multi-modal transportation options such as bicycling, walking, and public transportation. An electric bicycle definition & classifications, which align with the current e-bike bill we support in Massachusetts, were included and electric bicycles were specifically named in the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program which could enable funding for more e-bike sharing systems.

The INVEST Act also includes funding for several key projects in Massachusetts. Representatives got to include member-designated projects into the bill and Massachusetts Representatives were successful at getting several key trails and complete streets projects in the bill. The Bourne Rail Trail project will receive $14.7 million in funding if the bill is enacted. The funding would be enough to cover the construction of phases 1, 2, and 4 of the trail, which will connect Falmouth’s Shining Sea Bikeway to the Cape Cod Canal. Several other trails projects were included from across the state, like the North Adams Adventure Trail, which will connect the bike trail in Williamstown into downtown North Adams, and Belmont Community Path, a key connector of the Mass Central Rail TrailThank you to our Massachusetts Representatives for including projects that will make bicycling better for every rider across Massachusetts and ensuring that this bill puts transportation equity & safety at the forefront– we're proud to have such great advocates in Washington.

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