Over the last few years we’ve gotten to celebrate a number victories here in the Boston area. In just 12 months, we’ve seen the Connect Historic Boston Trail enter construction and celebrated the announcement of high quality bike infrastructure along Commonwealth Ave near Boston University and on Beacon Street in Somerville. Cities across the country are seeing the benefit of designing more livable and safer public ways. However, the debate remains very much alive. When visiting family in Denmark last month, I of course found myself on two years every single day of my trip. This was my first time in Denmark in 5 years, during which time I’ve become involved in the effort to bring somewhat Danish style protected bike lanes to Boston. I was excited not only to remember what safe and intuitive bicycle design looked and felt like, but also to see what lessons I could take back to Boston. Here’s a summary of what I saw:
1. Urban Design and Transportation work in full sync:
While in Copenhagen, I rode on the City’s Quay Bridge (Bryggebroen), which provides a pedestrian and bicycle connection across the south harbor. The bridge is intended to not only connect two parts of the city, but also extend the Harbor’s boardwalk southward and create an inviting place for people to visit on both sides of the harbor. The bridge is a shining example of how transportation is not about just getting people from point A to B, but can create destinations in and of itself.
[caption id="attachment_24363" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The Quay Bridge (Bryggebroen)[/caption]
As Massachusetts moves forward with rebuilding the Mass Pike in Allston, and other major transportation projects, this is a shining example of how transportation projects cannot only connect places, but create them as well.
2. A bike lane is as holy as a car lane.
Even in bicycle heaven Cambridge, this is an all too familiar sight:
In a construction zone, the bike lane always goes first. Second comes the sidewalk. Lastly, the road is only truly “shut down” when cars can no longer use it. In Copenhagen, every construction zone I saw had a continuously maintained bike lane. When space was tight, the bike lane and sidewalk were combined into a wider shared use path. After that, car traffic was redirected. Under all circumstances bicycle and pedestrian traffic was maintained.
[caption id="attachment_24365" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Jagtvej in Copenhagen’s Nørrebro neighborhood[/caption]
3. Thinking Outside the Box
American roadway standards are all about conformity. In some ways conformity is good. A green light should always be green. A stop sign should always be red. But what if we had a female walk symbol instead of a man? What if our bike trail crossings had both bikes and people on them, instead of a traditional crosswalk? In Denmark, transportation is built to respond directly to the user environment, regardless of your mode. That means you can get creative:
[caption id="attachment_24364" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Bicycle footrest on Axel Heides Gade[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_24366" align="aligncenter" width="338"] Temporary bicycle lane in Copenhagen[/caption]
My first day back in Boston on a bike, I forgot how to ride in traffic. Nervous to jump out in front of cars, I hugged the side of the road. The Danish bike lanes had left me spoiled. As important as infrastructure is, we must first change our values. While in Copenhagen, I saw design and policy decisions that directly responded to Danish values on transportation. Yet values take time to change. I can only hope that with the push towards Vision Zero, safety will one day pass speed as the crux of our transportation system. Until then, we must advocate not only for more protected bike lanes, pedestrian bump outs and higher visibility crosswalks, but for shifting our values as well.
Congress is considering three amendments to the transportation bill that will cut the two most important funding sources for bike projects. These cuts would make it much harder for communities to build bike infrastructure.
PeopleForBikes has an easy letter-writing tool to use to tell your leaders to oppose these amendments.
Tuesday November 24th, 6pm - 8:30pm
Toss on your smoking jacket and tweed as we first party then sit down for a conversation with Ted King, retiring pro-cyclist who tackled the sport's biggest events including the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, the hallowed Spring Classics, and the UCI World Championships.
After 10-years as a racing professional, Ted decided that the 2015 season would be his last, so join us as he hangs up his helmet and waxes poetic with some of the insider's stories from his time on the saddle. Ted will be hosted by the indomitable Richard Fries, who we're sure will chat about monuments such as Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders... and Ted's fondness for maple syrup. You're invited to join the conversation, at Landry's Bicycles in Boston on Tuesday, November 24.
Plus, there will be food and beer and warm apple cider -- since this is New England in late fall.
6pm doors open, 6:30 event starts
Tuesday, November 24
890 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
This event is FREE and open to the public, with limited number of chairs so be sure to RSVP on the Eventbrite page. But bring your open wallets, since we will be taking donations to support MassBike, your only commonwealth-wide bicycle advocacy organization, and the Kremples Center, a charity near to Ted's heart that is working to improve the lives of people living with brain injury from trauma, tumor, or stroke.
For more information about the Krempels Center, visit:www.KingChallenge.org
By Colleen Locke | September 23, 2015
[caption id="attachment_24335" align="alignleft" width="300"] John Allen, part of the Board of Directors for the Charles River Wheelmen, unloads one of 200 boxes donated to the archives.[/caption]
The Joseph P. Healey Library’s University Archives and Special Collections Department’s collection on bicycling history grew even larger on Tuesday, with the addition of 200 boxes of records from the League of American Wheelmen (LAW).
Known as the League of American Bicyclists since 1997, the organization dates back to 1880 and has played an important role around issues of bicycle safety, design standards, and the rights of bicyclists.
The boxes had been in Pennsylvania; a grant the Charles River Wheelmen gave Cycling Through History: The Massachusetts African American Heritage Bike Network earlier this year fully funded the transportation of the records to UMass Boston. The Charles River Wheelmen, Cycling Through History, and Lorenz Finison, author of Boston’s Cycling Craze, 1880-1900: A Story of Race, Sport, and Society, all helped bring the collection to the archives.
“The League of American Wheelmen as an organization has strong roots in New England, and we’re so thrilled to see the records returning to the region. We’re happy to say that we’re increasingly seen as the ideal home for archival materials about bicycling and bicycling history,” said Processing Archivist Meghan Bailey.
Before Tuesday, University Archives and Special Collections already had some documents related to the League of American Wheelmen in the form of the papers of Ralph Galen and Phyllis Harmon. Galen co-founded the Charles River Wheelmen and Harmon is known as the “Grande Dame of American Bicycling” for her work with LAW and other bicycling organizations.
The new collection is now being processed. To get updates about when the collection is available to view, visit and subscribe to the archives’s website and newsletter at http://blogs.umb.edu/archives.
About UMass Boston
The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city's history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 11 colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 17,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit www.umb.edu.
I’m riding 2x2 with a good friend in Gloucester, which sees more than its share of bicycles. Car traffic is light on this splendid autumn Sunday. We’re riding to the right, tightly enough so that our forearms occasionally bump as we chat about our spouses, our families, our jobs and - of course - cycling.
Under state law riding two abreast is legal. But I believe cyclists - like motorists and pedestrians - should operate with a degree of consideration for all. In certain circumstances, riding single file is simply courteous. And motorists, in my opinion, should afford cyclists similar courtesy.
But on this morning we enjoyed each other’s company as we rode.
With neither traffic backed up behind nor traffic approaching ahead we feel the car as much as hear the car. The driver chooses not to yield any pavement and buzzes us...passing within about a foot to our left at speed.
Although frustrated, we never missed a beat and pedaled on. Fortunately we were not wobbly charity riders or beginner commuters or college students riding dilapidated bikes or restaurant workers at night without lights.
Was the driver rude? Definitely.
As of last count, 23 of the 50 states have a three-foot passing law. Even such states with high fatality rates for bicyclists as Mississippi and Florida have a three-foot law.
But here in Massachusetts? Nope.
That is just one example of Legislation that needs to be passed and then enforced to improve cycling here in the Bay State. The Joint Committee on Transportation is about to hold hearings on key Legislation filed by MassBike. In the coming weeks, your voice could make a difference. Contacting your lawmakers will help.
Here are the three bills that, if passed, will improve the bicycling environment in Massachusetts and elevate us in national bike friendly rankings.
Bill One: The Vulnerable Users Bill
H.3073, S.1807, S. 1879
Nearly half of the states in the U.S. have three-foot rules that require drivers to give a minimum of three-feet when passing a bicyclist. Massachusetts currently leaves it up to the driver to interpret what they consider to be a “safe distance.” And the Bay State also does not define the legality of the motorist’s ability to cross the centerline to provide that room. So to some degree the motorist’s confusion can be translated as hostility.
For the second time, the Massachusetts Legislature will consider a three-foot passing bill. But there is one bright-and-shining difference in this effort. This bill will be called a “Vulnerable Users Bill.” My predecessor, David Watson, did a lot of great things at the helm of MassBike. In crafting this bill, however, he showed what eight years of experience can do. Instead of making this bill just about cyclists, Watson included pedestrians, first responders, police, road workers, firefighters, etc. under the tent of vulnerable users. Note that automobiles typically strike and kill more police officers per year than bullets. And on average a tow truck driver is killed every six days.
This is also politically savvy in that firefighters and police and other trade organizations have far more political sway than bike advocates.
Of note, passing this bill alone could very well move Massachusetts, currently ranked fourth in the country for its bike friendly rankings, up a few pegs to challenge Washington and Minnesota.
Bill Two: The Bike Lane Bill
H. 3072, S. 1808
The second bill simply makes it illegal to stop and/or park in a marked bike lane.
What? That’s not illegal?
If passed, the bill would insert this language:
The operator of a motor vehicle shall not stand or park the vehicle upon any on-street path or lane designated by official signs or markings for the use of bicycles, or place the vehicle in such a manner as to interfere with the safety and passage of persons operating bicycles thereon.
Duh….Right? After all it … is … a … bike lane, right?
But the key to this bill’s passage is to point out that such a restriction will improve the safety and flow for all road users. Anybody who has pedaled through an urban rush hour realizes that folks who use bike lanes as turning lanes, drop-off lanes, parking lanes, wait-for-my-friend zone, loading zones, cab stands, etc. only causes traffic to back up. Their actions are not just rude, but also dangerous in forcing cyclists out into traffic and hiding pedestrians trying to cross.
Bill Three: The Crosswalk Bill
The third bill came about from the legendary Andrew Fischer, who helped to create MassBike and has supported Bay State bike advocacy spiritually, financially, and intellectually since the early 1970s.
With more than 200 miles of bike paths now opened in Massachusetts and an expected tripling of that mileage in the next decade one would think some rules would have been laid down around those crosswalks that serve bike paths. Like most cyclists on the Minuteman Bikeway, I never dismount to walk through the crosswalk. But under current law, a motorist that hits a three-year-old boy riding with training wheels alongside of his pedestrian mother would only be charged for striking the mother and not the child.
The new bill would simply amend language regarding crosswalks to insert the word “and bicyclists” after the word “pedestrians”. (Our pedestrian friends should relax, as the bill will include this language: “Nothing in this statute shall relieve a bicyclist from the responsibility of giving right-of-way and yielding to pedestrians in a crosswalk.”
So How Do You Get Involved?
We need MassBike members to contact their lawmakers to ask for passage of these bills. Doing so is easy and requires little time.
Step One: Find your lawmaker. We made it easy with this link: Find Your Massachusetts Lawmakers
Just click through and you’ll find your State Representative and your State Senator and their contact info. E-mail works fine. Or find them on twitter.
Step Two: List the bills. Cite the bills listed above by name and number when you ask for them to vote for passage.
Step Three: Tell them your story. Don’t worry so much about national or state trends or data. Instead focus on your experience in their district and how those bills, if passed, will positively impact all of the voters in their district.
We have an opportunity to make Massachusetts a safer place to live and work and travel. Your help now is critical.
[box]Need help writing Beacon Hill? Here is some language to consider copying and pasting into a personalized letter to your lawmaker:
We have an opportunity to make Massachusetts a safer place to live and work and travel.
The Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition has filed a Vulnerable Users Bill that will improve roadway safety for far more people than just bicyclists. And we write to urge you to support this important legislation.
On average a tow truck driver is killed every six days while on the job in America. We know that a law enforcement officer is struck and killed every month on average. Construction workers, first responders, EMTs, and countless others whose work puts them on the edges of our roadways are at increased risk from motorists who presently are not required to provide sufficient room to pass.
The vulnerable users bill requires motorists to provide a minimum of three feet clearance when passing a bicyclist or any other person deemed a “vulnerable user.” This law will also make it legal for passing motorists to cross the centerline to provide sufficient room to pass.
These laws have been passed in nearly half the states in America, but Massachusetts has yet to enact this basic law to make our roadways safer for every user.
We urge you to please write the chairs of the Joint Committee on Transportation on Beacon Hill, Sen. Thomas M. McGee and Rep. William M. Strauss, to outline your support of House Bill 3073 and Senate Bills 1807 and 1879, collectively referred to as the Vulnerable Users Bill. And please vote to support these critical bills when called upon to do so. [/box]
DCR Recreational Advisory: Temporary Path Closures for the Paul Dudley White Bike Path in Boston
WHAT: Beginning on Monday, November 2, 2015, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) anticipates closing four segments of the Paul Dudley White Multi-Use Path for reconstruction and restoration work. The project will include reconstruction, re-striping, loam and seeding of shoulders, and erosion controls to protect the adjacent Charles River. DCR will commence the reconstruction and closing of the four segments, one at a time:
Segment 1: Longfellow Bridge to Exeter Street / western lagoon
Segment 2: Fairfield Street to Deerfield Street (both sides of the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge)
Segment 3: Anderson Bridge to Weeks Pedestrian Bridge
Segment 4: Eliot Bridge to the Artesani Playground / Christian Herter Park
Users should plan accordingly, seek alternate pathways, and use caution. Detours / alternate routes should be available as follows:
Segment 1: Alternative paths along the lagoons and Esplanade
Segment 2: Cambridge side of the river or pedestrian overpasses at Fairfield and Sherborn Streets to Back Street and Beacon Street (see http://trailmap.mapc.org/)
Segment 3: Cambridge side of the river
Segment 4: Alternative paths along Soldiers Field Road
WHERE: Paul Dudley White Bike Path, Boston, Longfellow Bridge to Christian Herter Park
WHEN: Expected Monday, November 2, 2015 until Mid-December
The John Hancock Non-Profit Marathon Program has generously awarded MassBike with non-qualified runner entries for the 2016 Boston Marathon. Each April, thousands of accomplished runners descend upon Boston to participate in the legendary Boston Marathon, one of the most prestigious and renowned road racing events across the globe. As these runners take on the daunting physical challenge of the historic 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon, they will also each raise a minimum of $5,000 each to support MassBike's work.
Starting today, MassBike will be accepting applications for 2 available team slots for the 2016 Boston Marathon for runners to join our team, Running to Ride.
The fundraising by this team will fuel efforts to improve conditions for bicycling in the Bay State. Working with lawmakers, schools, police, business leaders, and municipalities, MassBike is the voice for bicyclists throughout the state. With 4,000 members and growing, MassBike helped elevate Massachusetts in national bike friendly rankings to the number four position. Our runners will help Massachusetts climb to the top spot, making us a healthier and more prosperous place to live.
As a member of Running to Ride, you are responsible for:
- A minimum fundraising campaign of $5000
- $350 Registration Fee
- The additional cost of training (shoes, gear, etc.)
- A $30 application fee, which will be applied to the selected runner's fundraising campaign
Please download the application and submit the completed and signed application via mail or email to MassBike no later than November 11, 2015 to be considered.
Monday, October 19, 6:00 p.m.
Boston English High School, 144 McBride Street, Boston
Monday, October 19, 4:00 p.m.
State Transportation Building, 10 Park Plaza, Boston
Wednesday, October 21, 6:30 p.m.
Union Station, 2 Washington Square, Worcester
Wednesday, October 21, 6:00 p.m.
Leominster City Hall, 25 West Street, Leominster
Thursday, October 22, 6:30 p.m.
Cambridge Rindge and Latin HS, 459 Broadway, Cambridge
Monday, October 26, 6:00 p.m.
Braintree City Hall, 1 John F. Kennedy Memorial Drive, Braintree
Monday, October 26, 6:00 p.m.
Bangs Community Center, 70 Boltwood Walk, Amherst
Tuesday, October 27, 6:00 p.m.
Battleship Cove Marine Museum (Ward Room), 5 Water Street, Fall River
Tuesday, October 27, 6:00 p.m.
Middlesex Community College, Lowell Campus,
33 Kearney Square, Lowell
Wednesday, October 28, 6:00 p.m.
Peabody City Hall, Wiggin Auditorium, 24 Lowell Street, Peabody
Wednesday, October 28, 6:00 p.m.
Natick Town Hall, 13 East Central Street, Natick
Thursday, October 29, 6:00 p.m.
Pittsfield City Hall, City Council Chamber, 70 Allen Street, Pittsfield
Thursday, October 29, 6:00 p.m.
Plymouth Town Hall, 11 Lincoln Street - Harbor Room, Plymouth
Monday, November 2, 6:30 p.m.
Mansfield Town Hall, 6 Park Row, Mansfield
Thursday, November 5, 6:00 p.m.
Springfield City Hall, 36 Court Street, Springfield
Thursday, November 5, 6:30 p.m.
Cape Cod Community College, Tilden Arts Theater,
2240 Iyannough Road, West Barnstable
Join the conversation about the future of our transportation investments.
Make your voice heard.
MassDOT and the MBTA are preparing five-year capital plans, blueprints that will guide investments in our transportation system between 2017 and 2021. The Capital Investment Plan (CIP) determines how we prioritize our largest investments, covering all transportation projects - everything from highway and municipal projects to regional airports and rail and transit, including the MBTA and Regional Transit Authorities. These Capital Conversations will help to guide our five-year Capital Investment Plan process as well as upcoming planning processes for statewide bicycle, pedestrian and rail plans. We want to hear from you about how those investments should be prioritized in order to maintain and modernize the Commonwealth's transportation facilities. How can we improve our transportation systems, increase transportation capacity where existing facilities are inadequate, and build new projects to help communities to prosper and residents to get where they need to go?
Representatives from MassDOT and the MBTA will be on hand to hear your input about transportation needs and capital priorities. Please help spread the word about these Capital Conversations to friends, family and business associates. Your participation is critical to our success.
Online Capital Conversation:
Monday, October 19--Thursday, November 5.
Meeting locations are accessible to people with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency. Accessibility accommodations and language services will be provided free of charge upon request, and as available. Requests should be submitted within ten days of the meeting at which services will be required, if at all possible. Such services include documents in alternative formats, translated documents, assistive listening devices, and interpreters (including American Sign Language). For more information or to request reasonable accommodation and/or language services, please contact Trish Foley at (857) 368-8907 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ever had to navigate a huge transit facility that felt unsafe? Can you think of a piece of property owned by a transit agency which could be used to make bicycling safer in your community?
Today you can make a difference, but only if you act right now to make sure that your comments are logged by the end of today, Tuesday, October 13.
The Federal Transit Administration is still implementing a portion of a law which was passed in 2012 (MAP-21). It establishes their authority to regulate safety at transit agencies nationwide - believe it or not, this is a new responsibility. They have wide latitude in how they do this and depend greatly on the public to determine the details of how it's done. Any member of the public can comment - you don't need a degree in transportation engineering to participate.
Here's what to do:
1) Visit Regulations.gov and read the proposed regulation.
2) Click on the "Comment Now!" button on the top right, and leave a paragraph or two in your own words, describing why you think bicycle safety (and pedestrian safety) should be a crucial part of any National Public Transportation Safety Program.
Need some inspiration for your commentary?
- The new program already mandates a safety training program for all agencies. Could that program include training for bus drivers?
- Bus stops are usually on land owned by an entity other than the transit agency. Since the current program only deals with facilities owned by the transit agency itself, how can the safety program encourage coordination with other land-owners so that these things don't fall through the cracks?
- The MBTA is the second-largest land-owner in Massachusetts. Many other transit agencies in the nation are large land-owners as well. How can a national public transportation safety program ensure that all of a transit agencies assets and facilities are used to promote safety, not just those currently used for running transit service?
Please submit your comments by the end of the day today, don't miss your chance to be heard!
We have one more ask - please forward this to at least one friend who lives in another state besides Massachusetts. The more broadly our voice is heard, the stronger we will be.
Report by Programs Director Barbara Jacobson
What is PARK(ing) Day?
PARK(ing) Day takes place in cities worldwide the third Friday in September and celebrated its tenth anniversary this year! The event originated in 2005 to address the lack of open/public space in San Francisco and has expanded each year since. The premise of the event is to reclaim and repurpose parking spaces for something other than a parked car. By reclaiming the space for people, it becomes an activated place. PARK(ing) Day is a great way to pilot temporary, creative installations and strengthen the case for more green spaces in cities and towns.
Programs Director Barbara Jacobson and GIS Analyst Mat Schete wanted to repurpose and reuse something that is readily available. Both were interested in bicycling as a way to facilitate economic growth and development. One way to increase patronage to local businesses is to have facilities for bicyclists. It seemed only fitting that since the concept was to utilize a parking space, that the MassBike space should repurpose the one car space for many bike parking spaces. Typically, there is a 10:1 ratio of bicycles parking capacity to car capacity. A standard parking space is 20’ x 7’ so there was plenty of space to repurpose!
Barbara and Mat decided to use wooden pallets for the project because they are strong, durable and adaptable. After finding pallets on craigslist, the pair strapped them to Mat’s car to take them to be crafted into bike parking and a jenga game.
Bike Valet Coordinator Michael Zembruski joined in to help saw out the wooden beams holding the pallets together. This way there would be more room for the bike wheels to run through the pallets and park easily.
Mat and Barbara set up The Pallet Cleanser at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Prospect Street in the Central Square Business District in Cambridge. Adjacent to the Red Line subway station, the MassBike space attracted many visitors to the installation who were not bicyclists. Because of the one-on-one setup with a small table and chairs, it was easy to engage with people who stopped to check out the project.
Overall, we had 150 interactions throughout the day. Temporary pilot programs like Park(ing) Day bring a heightened awareness to public/open space, sustainable transportation and activating cities and streets for people.
Some of the feedback that people said to us:
“I wish this was here year-round.”
“Why only one day?”
“The City should do more of this!”
Let’s do pilot programming and gather both qualitative and quantitative data.
Let’s work collaboratively with municipal & local business stakeholders.
Let’s solve problems creatively.
Let’s work together.
Let’s do more.