I Am A Student, And I Ride

March 08, 2010
Here is another great story in our And I Ride campaign. We are seeking to put a face on cycling in support of a legislative campaign that we are working on this year. You can read the rest of these great stories here.

We are still accepting entries, so be sure to read below to find out how to send in your story.

Our next story comes from Brad.

Where I Ride: Boston
How Often I Ride: Daily for commute, transportation and recreation

My Story:
I've been living in Boston for 5 years now as a student and I find the bicycle to be the most ideal form of transportation in this city. The T is often slow and unreliable at the worst of times and cars are too expensive to have in the city. My bike allows me to live a little farther away from school/work and still arrive for class in a timely manner, because my commute is hardly affected by traffic. I can also live further away from subway/bus lines and not be transportation-handicapped.

In addition to the convenience of biking as a form of transportation, it's a fun way to meet people and enjoy the city. Boston is a dynamic place with many corners to explore and on a bike is, in my opinion, the best way to see everything. Whether you are riding around enjoying a nice summer evening, toodling around on a fall weekend morning taking pictures, or rushing to an appointment (and being early despite gridlock traffic), your bike is the cheapest and quickest way to get around.

Thanks Brad! Nice bike.

We want to hear your story. Tell us about yourself and how bicycling is a part of your life. Just copy and paste the form below into an email, fill it in, and send it to [email protected]

  • Name:

  • Email:

  • Where You Ride:

  • How Often You Ride:

  • Your Profession/Relation/Title (lawyer, nurse, Grandma, son, etc):

  • A picture of you on your bicycle, or you in your daily life (be sure we can see your face):

  • A paragraph or two about your life and your bicycle:

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We're Going To DC, And You're Coming With Us!

March 05, 2010

Read on for information on how you can be part of our virtual lobby day!

Next week is the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC. MassBike is leading a group of Massachusetts advocates to lobby for more funding and federal support for bicycling in MA. The advocacy action should be fast and furious, MassBike Executive Director David Watson will be tweeting updates live from the Summit, follow us on Twitter (or follow along on our website).

Earlier this week, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced a groundbreaking new bill to support bicycling and walking: the Active Community Transportation Act (H.R.4722) creates a competitive grant program with $2 Billion to help communities build bicycling and walking networks. For the first time, communities would be able to compete for multi-year funding to build active transportation systems, just as they do for transit and road infrastructure. And one of the seven original sponsors of the bill is Massachusetts' own Representative Michael Capuano (D-MA)!

This new bill gives you the opportunity to do more than just hear about what we're doing at the Summit - you get to participate in a critically important way. On Thursday, March 11th, while we are visiting Congress in person, we need you to call your own Congressperson and ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 4722, the Active Community Transportation Act, introduced by Congressman Blumenauer. When you call, you can use these talking points:

  • Bicycling and walking are part of the solution. Half of all trips in the United States are three miles or less, yet the majority of these short trips are made by car. Shifting more of these short trips to biking and walking would not only reduce congestion, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and our dependence on oil, but will also improve physical activity, safety, and livability.

  • Investing in bicycling and walking infrastructure works. Commuting by bicycle has increased 43 percent since 2000 - and by 69 percent in designated Bicycle Friendly Communities that have invested in infrastructure improvements.

  • Please co-sponsor the Active Community Transportation Act (H.R.4722). Or, if Mike Capuano is your Representative, just say "thanks" for sponsoring the bill.

Here are the phone numbers for all the Massachusetts Congresspeople:

District Rep Name Office Number
1 Rep. Olver, John [D] 202-225-5335
2 Rep. Neal, Richard [D] 202-225-5601
3 Rep. McGovern, James [D] 202-225-6101
4 Rep. Frank, Barney [D] 202-225-5931
5 Rep. Tsongas, Niki [D] 202-225-3411
6 Rep. Tierney, John [D] 202-225-8020
7 Rep. Markey, Edward [D] 202-225-2836
8 Rep. Capuano, Michael [D] 202-225-5111
9 Rep. Lynch, Stephen [D] 202-225-8273
10 Rep. Delahunt, William [D] 202-225-3111

Don't who your Congressperson is? Click here and enter your address to find out.

Please don't forget to call on Thursday, March 11th, to be part of the National Bike Summit Lobby Day.
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I Am An Architect, And I Ride

March 02, 2010
Here is another great story in our And I Ride campaign. We are seeking to put a face on cycling in support of a legislative campaign that we are working on this year. You can read the rest of these great stories here.

We are still accepting entries, so be sure to read below to find out how to send in your story.

Our next story comes from George

Where I Ride: Porter Sq. Cambridge to Back Bay Boston
How Often I Ride: every day

My Story:
I commute most every day, all year, regardless of weather. I've been doing this for decades. There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. Now that I have worked out the clothing (it took a while....) I actually ENJOY what most people consider bad weather. The snow is pretty. The rain is refreshing. The cold is a non-issue. Biking is so magical and enjoyable that I am amazed everyone doesn't do it. Non-bikers seem like muggles to me.

Thanks George! Nice bike clothes, very classy.

We want to hear your story. Tell us about yourself and how bicycling is a part of your life. Just copy and paste the form below into an email, fill it in, and send it to [email protected]

  • Name:

  • Email:

  • Where You Ride:

  • How Often You Ride:

  • Your Profession/Relation/Title (lawyer, nurse, Grandma, son, etc):

  • A picture of you on your bicycle, or you in your daily life (be sure we can see your face):

  • A paragraph or two about your life and your bicycle:

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It's Not Too Early To Start Planning For Bay State Bike Week, May 17th To 21st

March 02, 2010

We're hoping you join us this May 17th to 21st for Bay State Bike Week, a week when Massachusetts will celebrates bicycle transportation!

This year, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike) will collaborate to make Bay State Bike Week an exciting statewide happening, with rides and other events in every corner of Massachusetts. This partnership between MassDOT, the state transportation department, and MassBike, Massachusetts' statewide bicycling advocacy group, enables the two organizations to work together to get the word out as widely as possible, and to broaden the scope of Bike Week events.

To kick off the planning today we're launching the 2010 Bay State Bike Week website at www.baystatebikeweek.org. In the coming weeks we'll be adding information for event organizers and participants. Event organizers can already use the website to submit your event for the website's statewide calendar! In addition, watch for information on how to receive cool stuff for your event, including t-shirts, reflectors and posters while supplies last. We'll also provide you with ideas and advice on organizing new events.

We are all excited about promoting biking as a mode of transportation; it's safe, it's economical, it's healthy, it's environmentally-friendly, it's fast, and it's fun! We are building on two years of successful efforts by Boston-area groups to unify Bike Week events, a decade of organized Bike Week activities in Western Massachusetts, and a long history of Bike Week celebrations across the Commonwealth.

May is fast approaching, so start planning now! Mark May 17th to May 21st on your calendar for Bay State Bike Week and check the website for more information.

Bay State Bike Week is part of the Healthy Transportation Compact.
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Transportation Advocates Including MassBike Strive To Set Long-Term Vision For Longfellow Bridge

March 01, 2010
We previously reported on the efforts of MassBike, LivableStreets Alliance, WalkBoston, and the Institute for Human Centered Design to keep bike lanes on the Longfellow Bridge during "early action" construction to add sidewalks before the major reconstruction of the bridge (see here and here). We were all pleased when MassDOT committed in principle to implement that proposal (and we look forward to seeing the engineering plans soon). This was only the first step, however, in planning the long-term vision for such a vital transportation corridor.

Along with the other groups (now expanded to include Conservation Law Foundation), MassBike has submitted the following letter to express our vision for how such an important bridge can be integrated into future transportation plans. This proposal goes beyond bike lanes to encompass the entire system of transportation over this bridge, centered around the idea that infrastructure has to serve everyone, not just automobiles (though they are included as well). The proposal also incorporates environmental and public health considerations, reinforcing the idea that transportation planning needs to include a lot more than simply how to get from Point A to Point B.

Read below, or check out a pdf of the letter here.


February 23, 2010

Lucy Garliauskas
Division Administrator, FHWA
FHWA Massachusetts Division
55 Broadway, 10th Floor
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142

Jeffrey Mullan
Secretary, MassDOT
Ten Park Plaza, Suite 3170
Boston, MA 02116-3973

William Mitchell
Acting General Manager, MBTA
Ten Park Plaza, 3rd floor
Boston, MA 02116

Richard Doyle
Regional Administrator, FTA
Transportation Systems Center
55 Broadway, Suite 920
Cambridge, MA 02142-1093

Luisa Paiewonsky
Administrator, MassDOT Highway Division
Ten Park Plaza, Suite 3170
Boston, MA 02116

Dear Transportation Leaders:

We write to you with regard to one of Boston's most iconic structures and pre-eminent transportation facilities, the Longfellow Bridge. As the state embarks on the expensive and lengthy process of rebuilding the Longfellow Bridge, we believe that the time is ripe to think about how its reconstruction fits into the future of metro Boston's urban transportation network for its expected lifetime of 75 years. To that end, we would like to see an enhanced focus on the bridge as part of a multi-modal system that provides excellent transit, pedestrian and bicycle access and begins to reduce the focus on private vehicles, while respecting the critical importance of conserving the best architectural and engineering heritage of the past. Such an approach, which is imperative to address the health, climate change, sustainability and energy crises we now face, is now framing federal transportation, environmental and livable communities policies. We are absolutely committed to working with federal, state and local agencies to make sure that the re-construction proceeds cooperatively and with all due speed.

We are pleased that MassDOT has advertised the early action contract for reconstructive measures. We look forward to seeing the plans for ADA-compliant pedestrian and bicycle accommodation that are included in that early action package and appreciate the time, energy and flexibility of MassHighway in making those early action improvements feasible. We look forward to meeting with you soon to discuss construction schedule and sequencing, logistics, etc. as they relate to impacts on transit users, pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.

With respect to the long-term design of the bridge, we have carefully considered how the needs of all bridge users can be accommodated by a safe and appropriate assignment of the existing bridge footprint. We suggest that the preferred option include the elements described below, all of which can be provided within the existing bridge footprint without moving existing walls.

1. Because of the preponderance of transit trips over the bridge (estimated by the MBTA at 100,000 trips/day
representing more than 70% of all trips), safety for transit passengers and MBTA employees is uppermost.
The design must have adequate clearance from the MBTA tracks to provide safety for transit workers and
emergency evacuations. Recent design requirements for the Orange Line at Assembly Square called for a
minimum of 8.5 feet from the track centerline.

2. Pedestrians must have ample sidewalks (12 feet clear width is adequate and 15 feet clear width is desirable)
to meet the needs of walkers and runners using the bridge sidewalks which are part of a network of regional 2
scale walking routes (the Esplanade, Cambridge Street, Main Street) and to meet the goals of the MHD
Project Development and Design Guide. Wider sidewalks would allow the bridge to serve its open space and
tourism potential. Lights and their supporting poles should not be located within the clear width of the

3. Vehicles should have one travel lane in each direction, with two lanes provided for the inbound approach to
Charles Circle. The roadway capacity additions recently provided by the Big Dig resulted in a total of 14
interstate traffic lanes where 6 existed previously. This new capacity for vehicles may be contributing to
diversions from the Longfellow Bridge, where traffic volumes have been declining over the past decade.
Based on our review of comparable Massachusetts roadways, the traffic volumes carried by the Longfellow
Bridge will be adequately served with this configuration of lanes.

4. Bicycle lanes must be at least 6 ft wide, and should be provided the maximum possible separation from the
travel lane. On sections of the bridge with a single travel lane, the bicycling zone will also serve the function
of a breakdown lane for disabled vehicles and emergency vehicles. The amount of space needed to serve the
breakdown lane function provides the opportunity to separate the bike lane from the travel lane by a painted
buffer at minimum.

5. Emergency vehicles must be accommodated by providing the space for them to pass other vehicles on singlelane
sections of the bridge. This can be accomplished by allowing emergency use of the combined width of
the vehicle lane, the shoulder next to the MBTA fence, the bicycle lane and the bicycle/vehicle buffer.
This preferred option represents the very best of context-sensitive design and meets the principles of both the MA
Transportation Reform Act of 2009 and the federal DOT/HUD/EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities. By
moving forward with this option, MassDOT will expedite the re-construction of the bridge AND begin moving
Massachusetts toward a sustainable and livable transportation system.

In addition to our commitment to working with MassDOT and FHWA on these immediate Longfellow Bridge design choices, we look forward to working with MassDOT, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the cities of Boston and Cambridge to identify design solutions that will provide the Longfellow Bridge and other Charles River Basin bridges with safe convenient pedestrian and bicycle access to the Esplanade and to the street networks of Boston and Cambridge.

If you have any questions about our comments, please contact us via Wendy Landman at WalkBoston: 617-367-9255 or [email protected] We look forward to working with all of you to make the Longfellow Bridge an exemplar of sustainable, multi-modal and handsome 21st century infrastructure.

Best regards,
Rafael Mares, Conservation Law Foundation
Chris Hart, Institute for Human Centered Design
Charlie Denison, LivableStreets
David Watson, MassBike
Wendy Landman, WalkBoston
Cc Representative Marty Walz
Representative Tim Toomey
Representative Will Brownsburger
Senator Anthony Petrucelli
Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz
Boston Transportation Commissioner Thomas Tinlin
Cambridge Director Traffic, Transportation & Parking Susan Clippinger
Michael O'Dowd, MassDOT Highway Division
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MassBike Believes In Bicycle Infrastructure

February 26, 2010
You may have noticed our recent strong support for bicycle facilities, like bike lanes on the Longfellow Bridge. In the past, MassBike garnered a reputation as an organization that was "finicky" when it comes to bicycle infrastructure. For better or worse, we sometimes got wrapped up in theoretical debates about bicycle facilities that, even if not perfect, were practical solutions to real problems. And our official policies at the time did not give us clear guidance on how to move forward.

[caption id="attachment_1210" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Photo by Phillip Barron"][/caption]

But as times change, ideas change. We want everyone to know that MassBike is 100% committed to promoting bicycle infrastructure, even if that means taking some risks on new ideas. Moving forward, we want MassBike to be on the cutting edge of promoting bicycle facilities, so we have adopted a completely new policy on bicycle infrastructure. Drafted by our volunteer Technical Advisory Committee (whose hard work we gratefully acknowledge) and adopted by our Board of Directors, the new policy definitively says "YES!" to bicycle facilities - whether they are traditional, innovative, or even experimental. So while, for the last several years, we have been working hard to turn MassBike into a lean, mean, bicycle facilities promoting machine, we now have it in writing.

You can read our new policy below. This policy will guide our future actions, and support our desire to get more bicycle facilities built and filled with happy bicyclists.


1. MassBike supports the development of dedicated and semi-dedicated bicycle infrastructure including bike lanes, shared use paths, bike boulevards (local streets prioritized for through bike travel while discouraging through motor vehicle travel), and paved shoulders. Bicycle facilities such as these improve bicyclist safety and comfort, make roads less stressful for bicyclists and motorists, and have proven successful in attracting a larger number and greater diversity of people to riding bicycles. MassBike also encourages the use of innovative bicycle facility treatments that have proven successful elsewhere, and experimentation with innovative facilities designed to improve bicyclist safety and comfort, such as bike boxes, contraflow lanes, colored bike lanes, separated paths or cycle tracks, and marking the bicyclist's line of travel within shared lanes.

2. Bicycle lanes and paths should form continuous routes and networks. They should not just be applied in pieces where leftover road space is available, or discontinued on approaches to busy intersections that may have added turning lanes. Because intersections are high conflict areas, bicycle safety treatments at intersections are especially encouraged. Example treatments include marking bike lanes through the intersection with dashed lines or color, protected traffic signal phasing, and advanced stop lines or bike boxes.

3. Where bike lanes are implemented, MassBike encourages more generous spacing than the minimum or standard bike lane widths found in national and state design manuals whenever possible. Wider bike lanes, or painted buffers next to the bike lane, improve bicyclist safety by providing greater clearance from parked cars on the right and from moving traffic on the left. Often, the extra roadway space that can make a lot of difference for bicyclist safety can be found by making small reductions in the width of travel lanes and other roadway elements with no impact on motorist safety or road capacity.

4. MassBike supports vigorous adherence to the state's Bicycle Accommodation Law, which requires that bicycle accommodation such as bike lanes, paved shoulders, or separated paths be included in any project rebuilding a state highway, or paid for with federal or state-controlled funds, unless there isn't sufficient right-of-way. However, most bicycling takes places on local streets, to which this state law does not usually apply. Therefore, MassBike encourages cities and towns to similarly adopt a policy of providing bicycle accommodation wherever right-of-way permits whenever roads are repaved, altered, or reconstructed, except on low-speed, low-volume streets that bikes can safely share with motor traffic as is.
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I Am A Concertina Technician, And I Ride

February 25, 2010
A while ago we asked you to send in your bicycling stories and you didn't disappoint! We are trying to make sure everyone out there realizes that cyclists are real live human beings, not just anonymous people on wheels. Your stories put a face on cycling. These stories are part of a larger campaign to make cycling safer for everyone in Massachusetts, stay tuned for more information about that campaign.

We are still accepting entries, so be sure to read below to find out how to send in your story.

Our next story comes from Marga, who just so happens to be Emily's daughter!

Where I Ride: Amherst/Northampton area, MA
How Often I Ride: Monday through Friday, I commute from North Amherst, where I live, to neighboring Sunderland, where I work. (Just five miles, one way). If it is snowing or really cold, I take the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority bus. The bus is free, which is wonderful, but still, I prefer biking. After work I sometimes bike to Amherst or North Hadley to see friends, go to yoga or attend various events or meetings. During the weekends, I often bike to the laundromat in Amherst center, to pick up my CSA share in North Amherst or get groceries in Amherst or Hadley; sometimes I bike on the Norwottuck trail to Northampton to see friends or just for the excitement of a (relatively) larger town. I don't have a car, so I get around by bike or bus most of the time.

My Story:
My bicycle (bought new from Belmont Wheel Works) was a high school graduation gift from my parents; probably the best gift I've ever received. It continues to serve me well after six years. One of my goals is to get into the habit of doing regular tune-ups and cleaning my bike; currently, I can't do anything more complicated than changing a tire, but hopefully I will gradually become a competent amateur bike mechanic, and keep on riding my current bike past the time it starts to get that cool "vintage" look.

My life would not be very fun at all if I didn't have a bicycle and ride it. Biking makes me happier. I enjoy the physical sensation of exercising, outdoors. It feels so good to have independence and freedom of movement without a car, without putting more CO2 into the atmosphere. I feel more connected to other people when I am biking; unlike driving, you can share smiles with people while biking. I hope to keep biking all of my life. My grandmother biked until she was eighty; my mother and father are still going strong at 61. I believe that biking almost every day will be one key element in maintaining my health and happiness for the rest of my life. Seeing the world from a bike is, in my opinion, preferable to seeing the world from the seat of a car, and in fact, I can't imagine what my life would be like if I drove instead of biked.

Thanks Marga! Great to see your mother has passed the cycling tradition down to you.

We want to hear your story. Tell us about yourself and how bicycling is a part of your life. Just copy and paste the form below into an email, fill it in, and send it to [email protected]

  • Name:

  • Email:

  • Where You Ride:

  • How Often You Ride:

  • Your Profession/Relation/Title (lawyer, nurse, Grandma, son, etc):

  • A picture of you on your bicycle, or you in your daily life (be sure we can see your face):

  • A paragraph or two about your life and your bicycle:

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MassBike Urges Bicycle Access On The Whittier Bridge

February 25, 2010
The Whittier Bridge crosses the Merrimack River between Newburyport and Amesbury in the Northeast corner of Massachusetts. The bridge, which carries I-95 across the river, is one of five "mega-projects" in MassDOT's Accelerated Bridge Program, with a projected cost of $285,000,000. So why is MassBike fighting to get bicycle infrastructure on an interstate highway bridge? The answer is connectivity.

[caption id="attachment_1240" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="click for larger"][/caption]

The communities adjacent to the Whittier Bridge - Newburyport, Amesbury, and Salisbury - are popular areas for biking and walking. On both sides of the Merrimack River, there are growing networks of paths as well as popular bike routes. To MassDOT's credit, they have thought about ways to improve these networks as part of the project. This is good news, and will certainly make biking and walking in the area even more attractive. But when asked by MassBike whether the bridge itself will accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians, the answer was "We haven't thought about that." That might be a reasonable response if you are talking about an interstate highway where there are other safe options for bicyclists and pedestrians. The problem here is that there is no safe option, and this is the last available opportunity to create one.

Just east of the Whittier Bridge (literally a stone's throw away), there is another way across the river. The Chain Bridge runs from Newburyport to the tiny Deer Island, and the Hines Bridge continues from Deer Island across to Amesbury. These bridges carry busy local roads, only one lane in each direction. There are no shoulders, and narrow or nonexistent sidewalks, so bicyclists have no choice but to take the lane and mix with car traffic. And there is no hope of modifying these bridges to safely accommodate bicycles - the Chain Bridge was already renovated several years ago, and the Hines Bridge is about to be completely replaced but the design does not improve conditions for bicycles. These were missed opportunities. Further downstream is the Route 1 bridge, carrying a multi-lane highway across the river - not suitable for bicycles.

Now we are left with one option for a safe bicycle and pedestrian route across the Merrimack River - the Whittier Bridge. The bridge is going to be completely replaced, and the design is still in the conceptual stage, so there is plenty of opportunity to create a new bridge that works for all users.

David Watson, Executive Director of MassBike, testified about these issues at the recent public hearing in Amesbury, and local bicyclists also spoke up. Several bikers thanked David for coming to the meeting, and one decided to make his own public statement after speaking with David.

We will continue to follow this project closely and fight for including bicycle access on the bridge. We strongly encourage bicyclists to speak up at meetings about local projects. Check our calendar for the latest information about upcoming meetings statewide.

Need help representing bicyclist interests in a project near you, or want to request that MassBike attend a meeting? Contact David Watson, [email protected] or 617-542-2453. While we don't have the resources to take an active role in every project, we're always happy to talk with you and see if there is a way we can help.
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Save The Date: Bike Night 2010!

February 25, 2010

MassBike's annual gala event will be on Saturday, May 15, 2010, at The Greatest Bar, 262 Friend Street, Boston. Leading into Bay State Bike Week (May 17-21), this is one party you will not want to miss! More details to come soon.
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Cycle For Shelter Charity Ride

February 25, 2010
The 22nd annual Cycle for Shelter will take place on Sunday, July 25, 2010 at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, MA. The ride benefits Emmaus Inc. a non-profit that has been providing shelter, services and affordable housing to homeless men, women and children since 1985.

  • Cycle for Shelter has been ranked one of the top rides in the United States by Bicycling Magazine.

  • Century, Metric Century, Half Century and Weekend Warrior (20 mile) scenic routes. The day is planned by cyclists for cyclists and is fully supported.

  • Modest registration fees and fundraising.

  • Cycle for Shelter is a popular first century or metric century whilst still offering many challenges for more experienced riders. The well-marked routes are sprinkled with checkpoints and roving support vehicles and covered by radio communications.

  • A delicious barbeque, complimentary massages, foot treatments and shower facilities await cyclists at the finish on the scenic Haverhill campus of Northern Essex Community College.

  • Emmaus is recognized as a model for providing long term solutions to homelessness. 90 cents of every dollar goes directly to the programs. With homelessness on the increase the funds raised help Emmaus increase the number of shelter spaces for people with no where else to turn.

  • For more information and to register go to: http://www.emmausinc.org/cycle.htm or e-mail [email protected]

  • This ride participates in the MassBike charity ride partner program.

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