By Richard Fries, Executive Director
I'm going to make a hideous assumption here that many of you readers actually drive through the Boston metro area on occasion. So the next time you are stuck in traffic on the Zakim Bridge, itself an architectural accent to the Boston skyline, look down towards the Science Bridge. There you may notice an equally attractive, albeit more modest, bridge.
Behold the North Bank Pedestrian Bridge which connects Paul Revere Park in Charlestown to Cambridge.
I first noticed this bridge only recently after attending a meeting at the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The entire East Cambridge landscape has unfolded for me as of late. The streetscape and infrastructure is a honeycomb of bike paths, lanes, cycle tracks and signals for bikes and pedestrians.
Victory has a thousand mothers. Boston and Cambridge have been blessed with a great network of government and non-government organizations all working to improve access and intermodality.
This shock to my senses came not from the plethora of innovative infrastructure. The shock came from my re-entry to Cambridge after a day spent in Brockton on a bicycle.
In Brockton there is not a single inch of bike infrastructure. My inspection of the MBTA Commuter Rail station, where I had hoped to find some semblance of accommodation for bikes proved deflating. One lonely bike stood locked to the fence. And on the way out of the lot a misaligned, tire-eating storm drain grate awaited that ride.
Physically everything about Brockton is currently designed to make a cyclist feel un-welcome.
Since taking this job I have discovered similar environments in Pittsfield, North Adams, Worcester, Fall River and Springfield.
My company in Brockton also struck me. While our tour was led by Paul Chenard of the Old Colony Planning Commission, we were joined by some local cyclists. Aboard a fixed-gear rode Ryan.
With a sinewy body, Ryan had been riding for about four years. A native of Brockton, he got into cycling while living in Jamaica Plain, one of Boston's most progressive neighborhoods. When he lost his job in Boston, however, he moved back to Brockton. Whereas in J.P. he felt aboard his bike as if he belonged. But in Brockton one feels as if they simply do not matter.
All the bike-ped stuff happening in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge and Newton is working to improve the streetscape and the quality of life there. And more and more people wish to live closer to this fountain of convenience and health. Neighborhoods once avoided by the well-to-do - from the South End to the Seaport, East Cambridge to Savin Hill are being transformed. Some call this gentrification; others call it displacement.
But what is tragic is that folks like Ryan, who can least afford the expense of a car, are being shoveled into communities that have engineered them into an automotive corner. Here is a city with inexpensive housing where the largest employer is the city itself. Folks in the city are there often to take advantage of the affordable housing. But to get around they then have to annually carry a $9,000 bag of financial cement in the form of a car.
There are buses and the commuter rail but those are extremely restrictive to one's schedule. Simple access to supermarkets, drug stores and schools via such transit requires a rather complicated logistical process. And heaven forbid one misses that last bus at 9 p.m.
There is hope. MassBike is targeting these communities with the support of the Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Health to identify simple low-cost solutions to make cycling a safer and healthier option in places such as Brockton. And folks like Paul Chenard, who showcased to me the wide plains of Brockton's geography which could easily accommodate bike lanes and cycle tracks with minimal impact on motorists, see nothing but hope.
Communities such as these have been orphaned by bike advocacy. Perhaps the time has come to create a cycling lifestyle for folks who most need the benefits.
This Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee is voting on a number of amendments to the transportation bill, including amendments to support complete streets, and standardized roll-on service for bicycles and wheelchairs on Amtrak.
Please join us in asking your Senator to Support both of these key Amendments.
AMTRAK roll on service- Please ask your Senator to support the Manchin Amendment
Demand for multi-modal transportation options, including the increasingly popular combination of bikes with buses and trains, is growing across the country. Currently, only a handful of Amtrak stations and train services allow convenient roll-on access, and where they do, the service is popular and well-used. The Manchin Amendment would require Amtrak to report to Congress on what standardized roll-on service should look like and what it would take to get there.
You helped us win in the House, now we need your help in the Senate. This spring we asked for your help to pass this amendment in the House. If we can win it in the Senate then its a done deal. (If its not in the Senate version - then the two sides will have to work it out in a conference between the House and Senate). Winning in one chamber puts us in a strong position- but winning in both is a sure thing!
Safe Streets policy- Please ask your Senator to support the Heller, Schatz, Markey Amendment
We've called it complete streets, safe streets and uniform accomodation- now help us call it the law. This amendment would ensure that the design of Federal surface transportation projects provides for the safe and adequate accommodation of both motorized and non-motorized users in the planning, development and operation of transportation projects!
Click here to send your message.
Guest Content Contributor
Personal Injury Law
Thousands of people in Massachusetts rely on their bikes for transportation to and from work, and for good reason: According to The League of American Bicyclists, MA is the 4th highest bicycle friendly state in the US, ranking high in bicycle policies, and bicycle education among the population.
Unfortunately, accidents can occur in bicycle-friendly states like Massachusetts. If you are severely injured in an accident with a motorist, there are resources available. Filing a personal injury bill can help pay for your hospital bills and any other associated expenses, giving you the opportunity to focus on recovery.
Are You Eligible for a Personal Injury Claim?
Not all bicyclists who are injured in an accident will be able to win a personal injury claim. When handling personal injury claims, a court will determine who was at fault in the accident. In MA, a bicycle must obey the same rules motorists experience, meaning that the party at fault will be whoever committed a traffic violation. Common traffic violations include not using a turn signal, neglecting to yield, turning left without a green light, and not stopping at a stop sign or stop light (the most common bicyclist violation).
Proof of who was at fault will be very important when filing a personal injury claim, so be sure to get as many witness statements as possible when filing a police report at the scene of the accident. It is also a good idea for all bicyclists to wear Go Pros or other similar wearable cameras.
Comparative Fault and a Personal Injury Claim
When determining how much a claimant should be awarded in a personal injury claim, Massachusetts uses something called “comparative fault.” Comparative fault looks at how much an injured party was responsible for the accident, and reduces an award by however much the injured party was at fault. For example:
A bicyclist was cycling down a street in MA, while listening to music with headphones. He does not hear the car coming up behind him and is hit. A court looks at the case and decides that since the bicyclist was listening to music, he was 20% responsible for the accident. The court awards him $5,000, but reduces the payment by 20% to $4,000 to account for the bicyclist’s negligence.
No-Fault in Car Accidents in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is a “no fault” state when it comes to auto accidents, which means that a claimant cannot file a claim unless the accident meets a certain threshold. In MA, an injured bicyclist cannot file a personal injury claim unless his or her hospital bills are over $2,000, or the claimant breaks bones or becomes “seriously disfigured” or loses eyesight. To file a personal injury claim in MA under the no-fault law, a bicyclist must have already proved that he or she was also not at fault during the incident.
Because every driver in MA is required to carry no-fault insurance, a bicyclist will be entitled to up to $8,000 from the driver’s insurance. The first $2,000 is only for medical bills, while the remaining $6,000 is available for lost wages or other expenses. No-fault gives bicyclists assistance even if they were the party found at fault during the incident, or if their medical bills are moderately low.
How to File a Personal Injury Claim
Massachusetts has a three year statute of limitations on personal injury claims, meaning that if a claim is filed more than three years after the accident occurs, the claim will immediately be dismissed. To file a personal injury claim, a bicyclist will need the contact and insurance information of the driver responsible for the crash. The bicyclist will also need all medical bills, history of doctor’s appointments, and records of any lost wages. Courts in MA require a filing fee of $200 or more, depending on the jurisdiction in which you file.
It is my distinct honor to announce the selection of the Pioneer Valley Bicycle Advocate of the Year! For the past 13 years MassBike PV, representing the bicycling community in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden
Counties, has selected the person having the greatest impact on bicycling in the region to receive this award.
The recipient for 2015 is Mayor Dan Knapik of Westfield. MassBike PV recognizes Mayor Knapik as a friend of the bicycling community and his support and accomplishments for bicycling in the city of Westfield. During his three terms in office the city saw the completion of the Columbia Greenway into downtown, plans for an East/West connector on the city's levee, bike lane and shared lane proposals in road projects and the formation of a Bike/Ped Master Plan Advisory Committee. Mayor Knapik exemplifies the MassBike PV mission to promote the bicycle as safe, healthful, enjoyable, efficient, and environmentally sound means of transportation.
An award presentation will be held Wednesday, June 3rd at New Horizons Bikes, 55 Franklin St., Westfield at 6:00 PM. You all are invited to show your thanks, and refreshments will be served.
MassBike PV Chapter President
Please click here to see all current volunteer opportunities in June and sign up.
Starting today, membership fees will increase by $5. Individual membership is $40, dual/family $60, and student/low income at $25.
In addition, we will be phasing out our membership card feature over the next year. Anyone who has purchased a MassBike membership prior to 5/21/2015 will still receive a membership card and all benefits included with it, good for the full year of membership purchased until your next renewal. Any new members or renewing members who sign up after 5/21/2015 will receive all membership info (including their membership number) in their welcome letter. And you will of course still get great membership perks, discounts, and coupons when you join as well from some of our fantastic local and national partners. Please visit our membership page for more detailed information.
You will also be able to buy MassBike memberships at select MassBike events, and at participating bike shops and cafes. These special event memberships, will include all the same MassBike membership perks, but will also have a water bottle, blinky lights, and other goodies tucked inside! For more information on this program, or if you want to get involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the coming days, we'll also be announcing details regarding major updates to our corporate membership program, where businesses can elect to support MassBike, where they will receive discounted individual memberships for employees, bikability assessments at the office, classes, and much more!
Stay tuned, and thank you for your continued support!
WOBURN – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Sudbury Police Chief Scott Nix have announced that Saadin Solah, 53, has died from injuries suffered when the bicycle he was riding collided with a GMC pickup truck this morning in Sudbury. Solah's hometown has not been released.
“This crash occurred on Hudson Road at approximately nine o’clock,” said District Attorney Ryan. “A man was riding his bike along Hudson Road during an organized ride when he was involved in a collision with a pickup. The victim passed away from his injuries after being taken to Beth Israel Hospital.”
"This is a tragic situation involving the death of a cyclist on the roadway," Chief Nix said. "On behalf of the entire community, I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to the victim's family."
At approximately 9 a.m., the victim was riding his bicycle on Hudson Road, also known as Route 27, near the intersection with Maynard Road, when a collision occurred with a vehicle. Police say the driver of the pickup truck pulled over and waited until first responders arrived. This is an active investigation.
This incident is being investigated by the Sudbury Police Department.
The prosecutor assigned to this case is Assistant District Attorney Kerry Collins.
The Redfin Research Center recently issued a report that ranked Cambridge as the top city in the U.S. Scoring 92.8 the Massachusetts city came in well above Davis, Berkeley, Boulder and Santa Cruz, which finished second through fifth respectively.
“This is a great recognition of the hard work done by Cara Seiderman, the Transportation Program Manager in Cambridge, over the past 20 years,” said Richard Fries, Executive Director of MassBike. “That city has been leading the entire state for a long time and rarely gets mentioned alongside other cities in the Western U.S. With the additional support of local advocates such as the Livable Streets Alliance, the Boston Cyclists Union and our work here at MassBike, Cambridge is overdue for this acknowledgment.”
Two other Massachusetts cities scored in the top 100. Boston ranked 24th and Northampton came in at number 29.
For a full listing click here.
We represent over 3000 cyclists across the state who see bicycling as a solution for the traffic, health and environmental challenges we face in our community. But - we can’t do it alone. MassBike depends on bicyclists like you to continue our work making bicycling a healthy and more sustainable means of transportation and recreation.
We've come a long way, but still have more work to do on our mission to become the #1 state for biking.