Transportation Committee Hears Testimony on Crucial Bike Bills

January 07, 2016
 

Bicyclists Pack Hearing Room to Compel Lawmakers to Make Roadways Safer

BOSTON, Mass. -(January 7, 2016) - Emotional testimony filled the State House hearing room as the Joint Committee on Transportation yesterday heard legislators, advocates, law enforcement officers, doctors, lawyers and those who have been impacted by injury or loss of a loved one testify in favor of critical bills to protect cyclists and pedestrians. The standing-room only crowd spoke in favor of several bills, with a focus on four that consist of the vulnerable users bill, bike lane protection bill, truck-side guard bill, and a bike path crosswalk bill.

Rep. William Straus, co-chair of the committee, opened the event by announcing that after the completion of testimony from lawmakers and government officials, the testimony for bicycle and pedestrian bills would be moved up in the hearing schedule due to the number people there to speak.

MassBike’s team was onsite to speak on behalf of the two bills they filed for vulnerable users and bike lane protection. “We can potentially prevent these incidents from happening rather than dealing with the after-effects of tragedy,” said Barbara Jacobson, programs director for MassBike.

“Maybe the people listening could hear what happened and hopefully choose to make those changes that would save someone else's life,” said a tearful Brianna Arnold, a political science major at Stonehill College, who lost her uncle just last week when he was killed riding his bicycle in Worcester.

This hearing was a big step towards making these bills state law in Massachusetts but the process will continue during the spring before receiving a full vote of the House and Senate.

“For bike advocates this was the most important chance to speak. We had a broad range of support and emotional testimony.  And our bills had zero opposition,” said Richard Fries, executive director of MassBike. “We will need this type of political momentum as these bills move to the Ways and Means Committee and then to the full votes of both houses.”

MassBike will follow the Transportation Committee to provide updates as to whether they report favorably on each bill.

“We expect a favorable report at the phase,” said Fries. “But when we go to the full vote is when we will need our membership to engage with each of their lawmakers. This could be historic for bicycling in the Bay State.”
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Joint Committee on Transportation Public Hearing Recap

January 07, 2016
Standing Room Only As Bicyclists Compel Lawmakers to Act on Key Bills

First off, the big question of the day...How did it go?

MassBike representatives arrived at the State House this morning to see a full house. Legislators, advocates, enthusiasts, those who have been impacted by injury or loss of a loved one, law enforcement, doctors, lawyers and many, many more lined the rows of the crowded, standing-room only hearing room in front of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Transportation. Key bills dealing with the safety and protection of cyclists and pedestrians were on the docket, including two bills filed by MassBike (you can find a summary here).

Hearings began with Rep. William Straus, co-chair of the committee,  announcing that after all testimony from lawmakers and government officials was completed, the testimony for bicycle and pedestrian related bills would be moved up in the hearing schedule due to how many people were interested in testifying. What a great success in terms of turnout! Thank you to all of those who attend and to those who provided written testimony.

Great thanks to the support of fellow advocacy organizations like the Boston Cyclists Union and Livable Streets Alliance, and all citizens who came to testify. You can see full live coverage on twitter in our Storify.

What now?

While many of you may remember “I’m Just a Bill” from the famed Schoolhouse Rock this hearing today is just the start of the process for these key bills. While that is at the Federal level, the process at the State level is very much the same. We think we’re off to a great start, but there is still a lot of work to be done. For how a bill becomes a law in Massachusetts, read about the process here.

What else can you do to help?

We will be posting more updates as they become available and will alert the community when action is needed. There will be more times where public comment, letters and emails become crucial when we need to draw lawmakers attention to these matters. This process will take some time and we will need your continued energy to complete the job. In the meantime, consider supporting MassBike. If you believe in our efforts to make bicycling safer and more enjoyable around the state, become a member or donate today. We rely on the support of our members and donors to be able to do work like this supporting bicycle friendly legislation.

Join Today or Donate
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Safer Streets in Brookline!

January 07, 2016
This Thursday January 7th Transportation Division staff will present the proposed bicycle improvement plan for the Beacon Street westbound (Marion to Westbourne Terrace) portion of the corridor. Following the presentation members of the Bicycle Advisory Committee and Transportation Board will take public comment on the proposed plans under consideration. No action will be taken by either Board on January 7th. Copies of the report and two alternative plans are available here.

Thursday, January 7, 7pm - 9pm

Brookline Town Hall

333 Washington Street, Selectmen's Hearing Room, 6th Floor
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State House Hearings on Key Bike Bills - Tomorrow!

January 05, 2016


Tomorrow at 10 a.m., the hearings before the Joint Committee on Transportation afford citizens the opportunity to speak for or against proposed legislation. So far, we've received excellent feedback from the hill at the overwhelming number of letters and e-mails that have been sent in support of these bills. For that, we thank you for your efforts!

For those of you who have yet to write your lawmakers - there is still time to make an impact! The deadline for written comment is the end of the day Wednesday, January 6th.

For a summary of the bills MassBike is advocating for, more info on how to get involved, and how to find your representatives read our blog here.

To read a full listing of the bills and hearings, click here: Mass. Joint Committee on Transportation

Those interested in testifying in support of these bills in person are urged to contact MassBike at bikeinfo@MassBike.org.
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State House Hearings on Key Bike Bills Set for Jan. 6

December 29, 2015
Lawmakers Consider Truck Side Guards, Three-foot Rule, and Other Bills

BOSTON, DEC. 29, 2015 - Hearings have been scheduled on Beacon Hill for several key bills that would impact bicyclists in Massachusetts. To be held Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 10 a.m., these hearings before the Joint Committee on Transportation afford citizens the opportunity to speak for or against proposed legislation. These hearings will be the first opportunity of the New Year for you to get involved - read on to learn how!

For many members of the bicycling community these bills have been an ongoing effort. We extend our gratitude to those who have shared their story and contacted their representatives on Beacon Hill. For those of you who have yet to write your lawmakers - there is still time to make an impact!

To read a full listing of the bills and hearings, click here: Mass. Joint Committee on Transportation

“This is the opportunity every citizen gets to weigh in on proposed legislation,” said Richard Fries, executive director of MassBike. “While we file letters and make arguments with data and case studies the most effective influence at these hearings are personal stories from Bay State citizens. We are seeking out testimony from the families and friends of victims whose lives and limbs may have been spared if these laws had been in place.”

Amid several transportation bills filed there are four key bicycling measures to be reviewed in next week’s hearings, two of which were filed by MassBike. What may be confusing is that these are listed as eight measures. This is because the bills have versions in both the House and the Senate, (hence the “H” and “S” designation below) which will be considered together in the Joint Committee on Transportation, which makes up or down recommendations before going to a full vote of the Legislature.

Whether in writing or in person, bicyclists statewide are encouraged by MassBike to participate in helping to secure passage of these measures. Should they not pass in 2016 it would be another two years before we could get these even considered.  Of note is that some of these bills would be critical to improve Massachusetts’ spot on the League of American Bicyclists’ Bike Friendly State rankings. Currently we are number four.

These are the bills under consideration:

Truck Side Guard Bill H. 3019/S. 1810

This bill would require side guards and convex mirrors on larger vehicles operating in Massachusetts. A significant percentage of the recent deaths and injuries of bicyclists in the Bay State have involved trucks making right turns in urban situations. This ordinance has been passed in Boston but has little application for trucks registered elsewhere. More than half of bicyclists killed by trucks hit the side of the truck first and are then swept beneath.

Learn more here: Truck Side Guards Explained

Bike Lane Bill H. 3072/S. 1808

This bill is pretty simple in that it would make standing or parking in a bike lane or other on-road bike facility a ticketable offense with a $100 fine. This is not just about the rights of bicyclists. This is a major safety issue for all road users and an environmental issue. The actions of those who double park or park in bike lanes have proven to cause traffic congestion that is often magnified for miles back into the transportation system, wasting fuel and producing unnecessary greenhouse gases.

For more on ways Boston is using interactive data to reduce double-parking and congestion, watch this video: Waze Data and Double Parking

Vulnerable Users Bill H. 3073/S. 1807

Commonly known as a three-feet law, this could be the most significant bill of the bunch for cyclists statewide. Passage of this bill could elevate Massachusetts into the top three of the League of American Bicyclists bike friendly rankings. This bill would require motorists to provide a minimum of three-feet when overtaking a “vulnerable user” even if it requires them to cross the centerline to do so. This bill would align cyclists with police, first responders, construction workers, pedestrians, and others defined as vulnerable users. Research indicates that bicyclists being struck from behind comprise 40 percent of fatalities. Likewise tow truck drivers report a death every six days and police report a fatality every month as they work on our roadways.

A fun look at the three-foot law in California.

Bike Path Crosswalk Bill S. 1809

Passage of this bill would make it legal for bicyclists to do what they are already doing: ride across a bike path crosswalk, provided they yield to pedestrians and operate with reasonable caution. More important it would require motorists to yield to bicyclists in those crosswalks. Current law provides legal protection only to pedestrians in crosswalks, even when they are set as part of a bike path. Currently bicyclists are technically supposed to walk through such intersections if they are to enjoy such protection. This is unrealistic and antiquated.

Any citizen may weigh in during these hearings, but MassBike is working alongside several other members of the Vision Zero Coalition to coordinate a powerful presentation of speakers. Those interested in testifying in support of these bills are urged to contact MassBike at bikeinfo@MassBike.org.

How else can you help?

Contact your lawmakers. For a sample letter and how to find your State Representative or State Senator click here.
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Fred Flintstone, George Jetson and the I-90 Interchange

December 23, 2015


The deadline for comment on the Interstate 90 Interchange project in Allston was this past week. Below is the letter filed by MassBike Executive Director Richard Fries.

To Whom it May Concern,

I deeply appreciate the effort made to present a number of options and schemes to re-build the Interstate 90 interchange in Allston. The public hearings have likewise been informative and illuminating, for all parties involved.

While I applaud the addition of some bicycle and pedestrian accommodation I came away rather crestfallen. After discussion with several other advocates I had to check if indeed my reaction was on target.

The collective disappointment resonated with all concerned advocates.

The narrow corridor of the project affords several different options. I respect the constraints and the efforts to integrate a variety of modes there. I'll defer to my colleagues at the Boston Cyclists Union, Boston Bikes, Livable Streets Alliance, WalkBoston and other neighborhood groups for their expertise there.

But the plans shown for the 100-plus acre wedge of land is what left me disappointed. This 20th Century paradigm of design is revelatory. The plan seems focused on throughput for automobiles first with bikes, pedestrians and transit wrapped around that as a distant second.

We have a chance here to go to the vanguard of 21st Century thought and put the active transportation plan into place first.

Of note is that less than 29 percent of 18-year-olds even have drivers' licenses. We know that 17 percent of college students - those all-important job creators - in Massachusetts use bikes as their first choice of transportation and transit second. Within MetroBoston the number approaches 30 percent.

So here we are in Suffolk County, which alone has 26 colleges and universities, with a parcel of land between Harvard, Northeastern, Boston College and Boston University. All of these schools discourage students from bringing automobiles to campus.

And what do we do? We design something for Mr. Drysdale and his Cadillac in classic 1960s design.

At issue here is NOT whether we can get a share of the road; we have a blank canvas. At issue here is whether we can get a share of the engineer's mind. A generation grew up watching Fred Flintstone stuck in traffic in the past and George Jetson stuck in traffic in the future. Can we not shatter this failed paradigm?

I reflect on this while we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the movie Back to the Future. Just 30 years ago we thought the future would be about moving through places faster.

But we missed it.

The future, with technology, social networking and mobile phones, turned out to be about slowing down and improving where we are at with each other.  Instead of rocketing AWAY from each other, we worked on improving the urban space we share WITH each other.

So let's not make that mistake with this design. Change the paradigm.

What will our verse be when they revisit this design in 50 years?

Thank you,

Richard Fries


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Boston Marathon 2016 - MassBike's Running to Ride Team!

November 23, 2015
Welcome aboard Jenn Blazejewski of Cambridge and Rob Larsen of Roslindale!



We’re thrilled to announce that Jenn Blazejewski and Rob Larsen will be running Boston 2016 on behalf of MassBike as part of our Running to Ride Team, thanks to the John Hancock Non-Profit Program. With a collective fundraising goal of $20,000 we know that with your help,  Jenn and Rob can meet this goal prior to the big day and conquering the 26.2 miles to Boylston Street.

Jenn, having completed countless marathons, including Boston, is gearing up for April! As an active member of the MassBike board, she lends her marketing expertise and bicycling passion to the organization. Jenn became truly invested in cycling advocacy following her involvement in MassBike board member Tim Johnson’s Ride on Washington. At the time, Jenn was VP of Marketing for Boloco and debuted the Boloco trailer, sending it on its maiden voyage feeding hungry bike riders many, many burritos over the course of the five day trek. This adventure sparked her understanding and passion for bicycle advocacy. She currently works at Digitas as the VP of Digital Strategy.

Rob, a cyclist and MassBike member, is a seasoned half marathoner. He is ready to take on Boston on behalf of MassBike! Rob is an avid bike commuter who believes that bikes are a vital part of the future of the modern city. He has been a Boston marathon spectator for 35 years and has a special love for the race and the city, being a native to the area. He has a great understanding of the work that needs to be done to elevate Massachusetts as one of the best states for bicycling in the country and aligns himself with the MassBike mission. For more on Rob and to follow his journey all the way to Boylston Street, check out his blog.

Want to support Rob and Jenn (and our work here at MassBike!)? Visit their fundraising pages!

[box]Make your donation to Rob and Jenn really count - support them on #GivingTuesday!

1 week from today on Tuesday, December 1st, the John Hancock Non Profit Program will donate $2620 to the top fundraiser on #givingtuesday and $1000 to the top 10! Help us get there to kickstart our team’s fundraising goals![/box]



 
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2015 Annual Meeting

November 23, 2015
When: Thursday, December 3rd, 7pm

Where: Forge Baking Company, 626 Somerville Ave, Somerville

You are invited to the MassBike Annual Meeting to meet the staff, the board and hear Executive Director Richard Fries discuss the 2015 accomplishments and the 2016 ambitions.

 
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Deadline for Public Comment Extended to November 30 for Improved Multi-Modal Safety and Access to Emerald Necklace Parks in Jamaica Plain

November 17, 2015
PLEASE NOTE:

PUBLIC COMMENT DEADLINES EXTENDED TO MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2015

IMPROVED MULTI-MODAL SAFETY & ACCESS TO EMERALD NECKLACE PARKS IN JAMAICA PLAIN

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Emerald Necklace Conservancy (ENC) recently hosted a series of three public meetings to engage area residents and stakeholders in addressing issues around improved safety and access to the parklands of the Emerald Necklace in Jamaica Plain, while reinforcing the parklands’ historic character.  At these public meetings, DCR and the ENC presented and obtained feedback on options for improved safety and accessibility for all users - pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists - at three key areas of concern:

  • The Arborway, between Eliot Street and South Street, including Kelly Circle and Murray Circle.

  • Perkins Street and Parkman Drive

  • Centre Street from the VFW Parkway to Murray Circle


The presentations made at these meetings are available for viewing on DCR’s website at http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/public-outreach/public-meetings/.

The public is invited to submit comments regarding the respective meeting’s topic online at http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/public-outreach/submit-public-comments/ or by writing to the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Office of Public Outreach, 251 Causeway Street, Suite 600, Boston, MA 02114.  PLEASE NOTE:  The public comment deadline for each of the three projects has been extended to the close of business on Monday, November 30, 2015. 

If you have questions or would like to be added to an email list to receive DCR general or project-specific announcements, please email mass.parks@state.ma.us or call 617-626-4973.
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Public Meeting: Watertown-Cambridge Greenway

November 12, 2015
Meeting reminder! Marking your calendars:

Monday, November 30, 6:30pm - 8pm

WATERTOWN-CAMBRIDGE GREENWAY PROJECT

The Watertown-Cambridge Greenway is an effort launched with the joint purchase of a former B&M Railroad line, the Watertown Branch, by the City of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to create a multi-use pathway and greenway.  This purchase, which includes the former railroad right-of-way from Concord Avenue in Cambridge, through the Fresh Pond Reservation, under Huron Avenue, and into Watertown, will be developed into a pedestrian and bicycle path, helping complete the important regional connection linking the Charles River path system and the Minuteman Bikeway.

At this public meeting, DCR and the City of Cambridge will present an update on the design review process and the proposed design at the 25% completion phase.     

Click here for the full meeting notice
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