*UPDATE, Wednesday, March 25, 9:30p: We have just learned that the bike shop prohibition language has been removed from the Governor's FAQ page, and though we are still asking for bike repair shops to be named as "essential," this gives us confidence that the State is not prohibiting bicycle repair as a necessary service during these this Emergency Order. We advise all shops that choose to stay open to also check with their local municipality.*
*UPDATE, Wednesday, March 25, 8a: Per the Governor's FAQ published after this blog, bike shops are NOT included as essential, however many municipalities are contacting shops and letting them know they consider them essential. We will be working with the administration to get this changed so there is clarity and consistency across the state from the Governor's Office on this matter.*
This week Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide COVID-19 Essential Services to close their locations through (at least) April 7. This is a crucial move to stem the spread of the Novel Coronavirus by limiting social interactions and preventing the contamination of public spaces. So what does this mean for your local bike shop?
Well, per the Governor's list of "essential services" one could take a loose constructionist interpretation that bicycle repair shops fall into the Transportation and Logistics category, specifically "Employees who repair and maintain vehicles, aircraft, rail equipment, marine vessels, and the equipment and infrastructure that enables operations that encompass movement of cargo and passengers."
Obviously bicycle shops are providing transportation services by repairing and maintaining bicycles, which is the primary form of transportation for many essential workers such as hospital staff, grocery store clerks, and workers of all stripes -- especially in Massachusetts' urban areas.
In an earlier released Frequently Asked Questions page, the Governor's orders named bike shops as not essential. However, the language has since been removed and several municipalities have opted to specifically include bike repair shops as essential for transportation during this crisis, some going so far as to call up shops directly to clarify that they can stay open.
At the time of this writing, here are the cities and towns we know of that consider bike shops essential: Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Lexington, Provincetown, Northampton, Newton. (note: the PTown Board of Health rescinded their local order on Wednesday, March 26, which they were originally planning to amend to specifically exempt bike shops, but may not need to under the governor’s current order.)
Any shop that would like to open up during the emergency will need to check with their local municipal leaders (Mayor's Office, Town Manager, etc), their local board of health, and their local police department. MassBike is reaching out to shops and municipalities across the commonwealth to confirm policies.
To help continue to ask for a named essential designation statewide, we also encourage bike shop owners to fill out this MA Essential Service Designation Request, even if their individual shop is not remaining open: https://www.mass.gov/…/essential-service-designation-requestRead more
Every year in May, like clockwork, Massachusetts bike riders of all kinds come together to celebrate the joy of bicycling with events that encourage, educate, and build our cycling community. In the past, MassBike hosted events for just one week... but this year we're expanding with bike events all month long! To meet the demand, we're rebranding as Bay State Bike Month (with a new URL coming soon).
So, get out your sharpies and mark your calendars to block off the whole month, especially the key dates of "Bike, Walk, and Roll to School Day" on May 6th, "Bike to Work Week" from May 11–17, "Bike to Work Day" on May 15th!
Bay State Bike Month will be the go-to-calendar to let you know all the bikey events happening in all corners of the commonwealth. Whether you're looking to join in some the hundreds of events statewide or host your own, Bay State Bike Month will have something for you to encourage riders to get together on two-wheels (or three, or one, whatever works!).
While we're revamping and rebranding Bay State Bike Month, we're also looking to add in a Bicycle Commuter Challenge this year for the week of May 11-17. Details are in the works, and this year we want to roll it out statewide, so stay tuned!
But more work is needed to make this all happen, especially financial sponsorships and supporters. Please visit our sponsorship opportunities page to learn more about how you, your company, or your friend with deep-pockets can help keep Bay State Bike Month rolling all month long.
We hope this note gets your wheels turning about a month-long celebration, and that you're already dreaming of a packed Bike Month!
We've got updates on our work at the State House. It's been a busy season on Beacon Hill!
With ever-growing traffic clogging our never-expanding roads and the climate crisis becoming more real every day, we are at a defining moment in transportation funding and policy at the State House. We need you to join our efforts to make a difference!
This coming Tuesday morning, February 25th we are rallying at the State House for FixOurTransportationCrisis: Call to Action.
Join MassBike, along with Transportation for Massachusetts and advocates from around the state to support urgent transportation legislation. Starting at 10a, we will have a short speaking program, then invite participants to meet with legislators and staff. Click to RSVP!
We need bold legislative action now to make transportation all across Massachusetts accessible, affordable, reliable, and safe.
As the current legislative session hits the sprint to the line, the Joint Committee on Transportation is taking up a lot of challenging legislation, including the Transportation Bond Bill, Licensing Undocumented Immigrants, RMV reform and more. So it's no surprise a bill that would clarify electric bicycles is a bit low on the priorities list... However, due to our steadfast advocacy and your outreach to legislators and the committee chairs, the bill is alive and still being discussed -- and our deadline has been extended until March 4th to decide whether electric bicycles will be considered their own devices, separate from "motorized bicycles" like mopeds.
We know it's a tricky issue to determine where low-speed electric bicycles should be allowed? But in order to figure that out, we first need to define what these bikes are, which takes re-writing state law to separate electric bikes from mopeds.
There's still time to contact the offices of the Chairmen and ask them to favorably report H.3014 and S.2071. Please take a minute to let them know this is important to you.
Information on the bills can be found on our website: www.massbike.org/ebikes
CPA Funding for Rail Trails is Moving Along
Thank you for your letters and phone calls that came in from across the state in support of H.1790 and S.83, An Act authorizing municipalities to expend certain funds for the acquisition of land to be used for rail trails.
The bill has made it out of the Municipalities and Regional Government and is currently awaiting a second reading before moving ahead.
This bill will allow municipalities to expend monies from their Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds for the purpose of acquiring land held for railroad purposes to be used by the city or town for recreational purposes as a rail trail. It's an esoteric issue, and some communities are facing roadblocks since the nuances of CPA funding can be a grey area for leased land (most railroad rights-of-way are long-term leases, not sold outright). You can read more about the bill here.
This is important right now in Southampton to connect the Manhan Rail Trail and the Columbia Greenway, and in Sudbury to extend the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. And, going forward, this will help cities and towns get the funding necessary to build out our trail network across the state.
We're keeping an eye to make sure this bill stays active, and you can help by sending a note to your local representatives thanking them for their work, and asking them to help move along H.1790 and S.83.
Still Waiting... 3-ft Passing Distance and Truck Side Guards
Even though our bill unanimously passed the Senate last session, we're still working to get An Act to reduce traffic fatalities onto the floor of the House for a vote. Focusing on preventing crashes, this bill will define "safe passing" distance of 3+ feet for vehicles traveling 30 mph or more, require trucks that are owned or leased by the State to have side guards to prevent people from getting rolled under the wheels, standardize police reporting for crashes involving people on bikes and on foot, and more.
We are hopeful AATRTF will move before the end of this session, but your voice will help! Please take a minute to call the sponsoring legislators, Rep. Moran and Rep. Straus, to thank them for their focus on this crucially important issue, and ask them to please keep this bill moving!
Representative Michael Moran: (617) 722-2014
Representative Bill Straus: (617) 722-2400
For more information about this bill, check out our Vision Zero Coalition partner website, here.
Hand-Free Law Goes Into Effect Starting Feb 23
A major legislative win this session will be enacted this week, when Hands-Free Cell Phone Use While Driving goes into effect on Sunday. Massachusetts law now prohibits operators of motor vehicles from using any electronic device, including mobile telephones, unless the device is used in hands-free mode.
This is a big deal! We see every day how distracted driving is one of the most flagrant dangers out on the roads, and this is a necessary step toward changing behavior. Our work now is to spread the message to all drivers (and passengers) to put down the phone and focus on the roads!
Thanks goes to the tireless work of the Vision Zero Coalition, Safe Roads Alliance, our legislative partners, and the Governor and his team for getting this bill into law!
For more information about the law, please see this site for details and handouts you can print out to help spread the word.
Join MassBike at the National Bike Summit! March 15-17
There are many facets to the gem of bicycle advocacy, but do you particularly dig this policy and legislative work? Well, come with us to the center of the storm! We'd love for you to join MassBike in Washington D.C. for the National Bike Summit, a packed three days of workshops and lobbying with our friends at League of American Bicyclists and advocates from all 50 states.
Come learn best practices from advocacy organizations and riding clubs from around the country, network with advocates facing similar issues, and spend Lobby Day wearing out the soles of your shoes beating the halls of Congress speaking truth to power about the challenges and benefits for bicycle riding in Massachusetts.
The Summit takes place March 15-17. For full info follow the link here: https://www.bikeleague.org/summit
"Lobby Team MassBike" Stuffed into an Elevator in the Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC in 2019
To make Wellesley even more welcoming to cyclists, in partnership with the Wellesley Police Department, Sustainable Wellesley crowd sourced funding for a bike repair station. The Wellesley Police Department offered their central, accessible location on RT 16 where my people cycle past daily. A huge thank you to Sustainable Wellesley, the Wellesley Police Department, and Wellesley DPW for everything they do to support cyclists.
Check out this great public amenity, open 24 hours a day / 7 days a week, free to everyone out riding in Wellesley!
Last night, I had a realization how wrapping a bicycle as a present is a perfect analogy for running a non-profit organization. To wrap the bike, I need to piece together all sorts of sizes and shapes of paper. It’s an awkward, unwieldy geometry that doesn’t fit standard packaging. And, unfortunately (as some of you are familiar with struggling in the garage this late in December...), the process is tedious and takes a lot longer than any reasonable person would want.
A 20" wheel bike, expertly "concealed"
However, 'tis the season for gifts and giving, and for me the joy of wrapping the bike is in the process. Struggling late at night taping pieces of colorful paper over bicycle pedals reinforces why we give to those we love.
I think of the joy to come when this present is unwrapped, when a little girl knows she’s moving up in the world, with a bigger bike, one with gears and hand brakes, that will bring her excitement, freedom, and health.
My niece 'Leona' learning to ride for the first time in 2017
And I’m remind of the gifts you all bring to MassBike, with your advocacy, your support, and your donations. Going back to the wrapping metaphor, in the midst of this late night tape job in a cold garage, I see our collective advocacy as the bits and pieces of paper that make a movement, and your support as the tape that holds this whole thing together.
So thank you for your gifts, and I wish you all a lovely holiday season with many happy rides in the new year!
Galen Mook, Executive Director
You may remember our summer intern Dina Gorelik, a rising senior at Newton North High School (you can read her first MassBike blog post here!). She is the founder and officer of the Newton North Bike Club and we're pleased to bring you another blog post that she has written:
After participating in a bike tour two summers ago, I became enthralled with the idea of biking. My bike fulfilled my teenage desire for independence and freedom. I began biking to school year round and realized the personal benefits of biking and the stark lack of bicycle infrastructure in Newton. In response, I started a bike club. I hoped to get more students involved with and educated about biking. I also wanted to advocate for safer bike infrastructure, so I connected with Bike Newton, our local advocacy group.Read more
We've got a victory to report for rail trails in Massachusetts!
The Leominster City Council voted 8-0 on Monday night to approve all of the necessary easements for the Twin Cities Trail project to move forward.
Press Release: Contact: Pressley.Press@mail.house.gov
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-FL), co-chairs of the Congressional Bike Caucus, introduced the Bikeshare Transit Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation that supports local bikeshare programs by helping communities across the country access federal funds for bikeshare facilities and equipment.Read more
Last week, MassBike put out a call for your help, to join in the conversation on e-bikes and submit your comments to the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation in regards to their proposed regulations that would pertain to pedal-assist bicycles.
We appreciate the desire for the DCR to allow Class-1 Pedal-Assist Electric Bicycles on improved trails over 8' wide (like rail trails). However, we disagree with the proposal to prohibit the use of pedal-assist bikes on "improved DCR trails that are less than 8 feet in width, dirt roads that are not open to vehicular traffic, and any natural surface trails, regardless of width or other conditions," and compiled our feedback for the DCR to review.
We received several hundred responses in support of our call to action and we greatly appreciate your support and your comments. It makes a difference! We were thrilled to hear so many stories from so many of you about why access for e-bikes is important for you and your family. Thank you to all of you who provided comments on this topic and sent your feedback to the DCR.
As we put out the call for your support and letters, we also wrote our own. You can read the full text of that letter below:Read more
The public comment period on proposed changes to Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation rules as it pertains to electric bicycles remains open until Wednesday July 24 at 5pm.
302 CMR 11.00: Parkways, Traffic, and Pedestrian Rules and 302 CMR 12.00: Parks and Recreation Rules, would prohibit usage of electric bicycles on all natural surface trails, improved trails that are less than 8’ wide and on dirt roads that are not open to vehicular traffic.
Read below for why we think this issue is important at this juncture and for instructions and a sample e-mail script to provide your comments.Read more