Call for comments - your voice is needed! The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has released the Draft Statewide Bicycle Transportation Plan, now available for public comment through the end of January. MassDOT is asking you to review the plan and provide feedback, either directly to the DOT (and cc us at MassBike) or to us at MassBike (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will collect your comments to send into the DOT by January 31st.
While you can read the full draft here, it's a dense document that can be tough to digest online. So we've boiled it down to highlight shorter sections and focus on the areas where you can have the most impact.
Initiative 1: Build a Connected Trail Network
Initiative 1 begins with data: a state-wide inventory of bike facilities, a catalog of high comfort networks and statistical model which identifies areas with the greatest potential for every day biking. This information is used to prioritize improvements to MassDOT/DCR controlled properties. It will be shared with regional planners and municipalities to encourage improvements and connectivity on locally controlled properties.
1-1. Initiate high-comfort bikeway projects on MassDOT-owned roadways to help improve bike and trail connectivity through the Potential for Everyday Biking analysis, which identifies non-limited access roadways with the highest potential demand for bikeway investments.
1-2. Provide guidance to 13 regional planning agencies about how to apply the Potential for Everyday Biking analysis to support local and regional bicycle network planning.
1-3. Provide training to municipalities on how to plan for and build high-comfort bikeways and connected bicycle networks; to promote funding programs that municipalities can use to build them (i.e. Complete Streets Funding Program, Chapter 90, Safe Routes to School, regional MPO funds); and to promote the Municipal Resource Guide for Bikeability.
1-4. Coordinate with partner state agencies and regional planning agencies to develop route wayfinding design guidelines to include in all projects to help direct people to high comfort bikeway routes.
1-5. In coordination with the RTCs, develop and communicate best practice designs and strategies to connect shared use paths, high-comfort bikeways, town centers, and end-of-trip facilities to promote bicycle tourism and economic development.
Initiative 2: Integrate the Bike Network with the Transportation System
Municipalities, which control about 80% of roadways in the Commonwealth, rely on MassDOT for standards and frameworks when designing and building transportation projects. Initiative 2 integrates the MassDOT bicycle data and analysis into the decision making and design processes for all transportation projects.
2-1. Revise the Healthy Transportation Policy and Healthy Transportation Policy Engineering Directive to ensure that designs attract potential everyday bicyclists. To support this effort, MassDOT will develop design criteria and guidance for roadways and intersections based on motor vehicle volume, speed, and curbside activity.
2-2. Use the Potential for Everyday Biking analysis (described in Initiative 1) to inform project boundaries, scope, and design of projects on state-owned roadways and bridges.
2-3. Fill critical gaps by preserving and ensuring adequate right-of-way for high comfort bike networks when selling, leasing, transferring, or providing an easement on MassDOT or MBTA property.
2-4. Ensure issues and opportunities to create safe and connected bikeways are studied and implemented when MassDOT is reviewing development projects as part of the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act and access permit proposals. MassDOT will update the Transportation Impact Assessment guidelines for environmental review documents as needed.
2-5. Ensure that bike access is incorporated in transportation projects within a 10-minute bike ride (1.7 miles) to a transit stop or station throughout the project development process, from scoping to scoring, design, review, and construction.
2-6. Develop design guidance and adopt new standards for bikeway types, temporary traffic controls, and maintenance with the goal of attracting potential everyday bicyclists based on experiments and pilots in Massachusetts and across the country.
Initiative 3: Education and Regulations
Initiative 3 promotes roadway safety through education for people driving and people bicycling. It also pursues better safety standards for motor vehicles.
3-1. Develop and execute a transition plan to require side guards and convex and cross-over mirrors where appropriate on MassDOT-owned and contracted trucks consistent with US DOT Volpe standards.
3-2. Revise the Commercial Driver License manual and on-road testing with a greater emphasis on interactions with people biking in different contexts, such as urban or rural environments.
3-3. Expand the scope of the RMV’s driver’s manual to better educate people who currently bicycle or may bicycle on the rules of the road and bicycle facilities. Update the manual periodically with new bicycle facilities and rules as they evolve.
3-4. Expand the scope of the RMV’s driver’s manual and test to bring awareness of how people driving should interact with people biking on our roadways and where and how people bicycling should ride in public ways.
3-5. Incorporate additional strategies into the Safe Routes to School program to increase education and training for children to learn about bicycling and also general roadway safety.
Initiative 4: Lower Barriers to Using a Bicycle
Initiative 4 increases the convenience of biking as an everyday travel option for people of all ages and abilities by expanding bike share and making bike share easier to use.
4-1. Increase the ease of obtaining a bicycle by integrating bikeshare and other micro-mobility options with transit payment technologies via Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) 2.0 technology, or with MA E-Z Pass technology.
4-2. Expand the MBTA’s bicycle parking program as part of a comprehensive mobility program to increase ease and access for people to get to and from transit without having to rely on a personally owned car.
4-3. Increase access to bicycles through developing comprehensive bikeshare partnerships with a focus on providing first and last mile solutions to and from transit.
4-4. Increase access to bicycle parking by collaborating with regional planning agencies on an “Everyday Bike Parking Program” to help municipalities select and site convenient bike parking at schools, transit stops, and business districts.
4-5. Research and develop a policy that supports electric and pedal assist bicycle use to enable more people of all ages and abilities to bicycle more often and for longer trips. Partner with municipalities to pilot street designs and speed limit changes to support a variety of mobility devices.
Initiative 5: Maintain the Bicycle Network
Initiative 5 launches the development of a year-round maintenance and operations plan for MassDOT-owned bikeways and supports municipalities to do the same.
5-1. Establish a winter operations pilot program on MassDOT facilities for snow and ice removal to learn about operational needs and barriers, as well as prospective partnerships.
5-2. Develop a comprehensive winter maintenance and operations plan post-pilot program for MassDOT-owned bikeways.
5-3. Initiate a program to collect bikeway condition data.
5-4. Develop a maintenance plan for MassDOT-owned bikeways to address facility preservation and repair based on condition data (bikeway surface, including drainage and surface utilities, and associated elements like signs, pavement markings, signals, buffer spaces, and corner islands).
5-5. Support municipalities to maintain their on- and off-street bikeways and related bike facilities.
Initiative 6: Build a Data set of Bicycle Usage
Transportation projects are currently prioritized and designed using standardized data gathered on motor vehicle usage, effectively making them motor vehicle projects. No comparable data set exists for bicycle usage. Initiative 6 develops standards for documenting bicycle usage and safety to inform transportation projects.
6-1. Conduct public surveys to continue to learn about bicycle use and the biggest barriers to bicycling in Massachusetts to inform policy, programs, and projects.
6-2. Identify data needs to conduct safety analysis involving vehicles in coordination with the State’s TRCC to evaluate crash data reporting, improve bicycle reporting, and adopt best practices from other states.
6-3. Routinely update the statewide Bicycle Facility Inventory with District Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinators and municipal and regional partners. Transition the inventory into a GeoDOT web application that includes existing data and incorporates additional data to advance connected bike network planning and design statewide, including the Potential for Everyday Biking analysis results, Bicycle Level of Comfort data consistent with Action 1-1, and streets on which biking is legally allowed.
6-4. Expand information-gathering regarding bicycle crashes through sources other than vehicle crash reports to better understand crashes involving other bicyclists, pedestrians, solo bike crashes and near misses that are typically not reported on the standard motor vehicle crash form.
6-5. Develop a permanent pedestrian and bicycle count program with a combination of temporary and permanent counters, and travel behavior surveys. As a first step, MassDOT will conduct a pedestrian and bicycle count pilot study to assess data collection technologies.