Watson remembers biking in the streets of Massachusetts at the beginning of his tenure at MassBike. "Bike commuters were bravely riding along, but largely limited to the strongest and most fearless among us," he wrote in his announcement (pdf). "There were precious few bike lanes in the state, and none at all in Boston. State transportation policies were just beginning to contemplate biking and walking, but that had not yet translated to change on the streets. Little or no funding was dedicated to bicycle infrastructure or education."
Now, eight years later, much has improved. Massachusetts has installed more bike lanes and increased state funding for bike paths. More residents have an interest in biking for transportation and health. In a time when federal funding for biking and walking has been cut, Massachusetts has created a state policy to triple biking, walking, and transit, and is providing funding to make it happen. With David at the helm, MassBike has:
- Launched our Safe Routes to School Program in 2008, which has reached more than 11,000 kids
- Championed the Bicyclist Safety Bill, which became law in 2009
- Trained MBTA bus drivers since 2010 to better prepare drivers for interactions with bicyclists
- Successfully advocated for improved bike parking at transit stations and bike racks on all buses
- Expanded Bay State Bike Week in 2010 to a statewide celebration in partnership with MassDOT
- Introduced legislation in 2011 (and again in 2013) to protect Vulnerable Road Users
- Secured expanded bicycle hours on the MBTA Blue Line in 2011
- Published bike safety information in seven languages in 2012 (now 10 languages!)
- Launched the Bikeable Communities Program in 2012, which has helped more than 40 cities and towns improve bicycling conditions
- Created the annual Massachusetts Bike/Walk Summit in 2012
- Helped educate police officers in 2014 with our training video
- In 2014 successfully advocated for increased funding for bike paths, including more than $130 million in the MassDOT capital budget and $377 million in bonding authority
"A tireless advocate - and a tireless cyclist - David has been instrumental in seeing so many wins for safe biking in Massachusetts," said Jim Bradley, President of MassBike's Board of Directors. "We thank him for serving MassBike, bicyclists in Massachusetts, and the community so well these last eight years. We will remember his time at MassBike as one of action, commitment, and enthusiasm."
The Board now begins a search for a new Executive Director. The right person will capitalize on the successes of Watson's tenure to provide Massachusetts with a future of greater acceptance of and enthusiasm for bicycling.
"I am very proud of the team, the organization, and the partnerships we have built together over the past eight years," Watson wrote of the MassBike board, staff, and community. "This has been the most challenging and the most rewarding job I have ever had, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to do it."
Big news this week when the Healthy Transportation Compact (HTC) met in Boston. At the meeting, MassDOT announced an initial investment of up to $5 million for the critical Complete Streets Certification Program. The program provides competitive funds to cities and towns to create streets that are safe and welcoming for all users. Led by MPHA and MAPC, MassBike and other advocates succeeded in incorporating the program and its funding into the Transportation Bond Bill passed in April. But MassDOT still had to budget the money, and now they have - thank you MassDOT!
The HTC was created by the 2009 transportation reform law and requires the Secretaries of Transportation, Health and Human Services, and Energy and Environment (and the agencies under their supervision) to work together to get more people walking and biking in Massachusetts. Last year, the HTC added the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, recognizing the link between land use decisions and healthy transportation options.
In addition to the Complete Streets announcement, HTC members highlighted a wide range of initiatives that support better bicycling and walking in the Commonwealth:
- Health Impact Assessments are now required for all transportation planning processes, making health impacts an important factor in project development
- The Healthy Transportation Policy Directive issued last Fall has been incorporated into the Highway Division's project design and review process, so that projects are receiving much more scrutiny for increasing bicycle, pedestrian, and transit use to meet the Commonwealth's Mode Shift Goals.
- The Assistant Secretary for GreenDOT now has a full staff to oversee implementation of mode shift and MassDOT's goals to make its own operations more sustainable.
- Purchasing greener vehicles: 40 new, more efficient locomotives, piloting electric buses, and testing hydrogen fuel cell bus next year
- Increasing energy efficiency at facilities, such as converting to LED lights at train crossings (currently lights consume far more energy and must be replaced frequently)
Department of Public Health:
- New Mass in Motion grants awarded to help communities create opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating: 22 programs with 60 municipalities, more communities than before (but less money overall unless applied-for federal funding is awarded)
- Logan Airport Health Impact Assessment completed: mitigating health impacts with measures like banning idling buses and funding community health centers
- Developing criteria for when Health Impact Assessments needed: focusing on roadway projects (traffic volume, emissions, mode shift); transit (stations, increased service, decreased service, parking); airports
Executive Office of Energy and Environment:
- Environmental bond bill passed to fund DCR and other agencies
- Working with MassDOT on GreenDOT regulations under Global Warming Solutions Act: greenhouse gas emissions will be added to transportation project selection criteria
- Working with Housing and Economic Development on land use planning
- Investing in urban parks: a quarter of MA population now lives within 10 minute walk of parkland, funding new urban rail trail in downtown Fall River
Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development:
- Land Use: identifying areas to grow or preserve, using sustainable development principles; working with developers on sustainable projects; investing in these areas; marketing these areas to developers and the world; collaborating with Energy and Environment on regional plans
- MassWorks: incentivizing development where infrastructure is needed
- Housing That Works: multi-family housing, in city/town centers, near job opportunities
In addition to reports from the agencies HTC staff reported that the Healthy Transportation Compact Advisory Council has been formed and is working (MassBike Executive Director David Watson is a member). The Advisory Council is advising on incorporating health into project selection, the We Move Massachusetts capital planning process, Complete Streets training and implementation of the new Certification Program, and preparing a report for the upcoming gubernatorial transition to ensure that healthy transportation initiatives continue uninterrupted.
|MassBike's Jimmy Pereira at the DSNI Playway|
To learn about specific playways, read about the two in which MassBike recently participated: the DSNI playway and the Mattapan Playway. Anyone can host a playway. Consider the following tips to plan yours:
- Involve residents in the planning process.
- Plan early.
- Identify the scope of the project. Typically playways are one or two blocks in size, but may increase as demand increases.
- Build relationships with local community groups, city hall, and the local police department. They will work with you to help ensure that your project is successful.
- Determine the permits you'll need to make the project happen. Adding food or music in the public way may mean additional permits. Find the correct contacts for securing permits.
- Recruit volunteers to help with the event.
- Promote the event to residents and community stakeholders.
- Document the event and celebrate the successful day!
On August 7-10 we rode the 8th Annual Mass BikePike Tour, and as usual it was a lot of fun. We started in Shirley, MA and went through many picturesque towns. Every day seemed to reveal landscape and scenery more beautiful than the last.
Each year we especially enjoy the feeling of community we get from spending time with so many dedicated cyclists during the tour. We see familiar faces along with fresh ones. We greet old friends and meet new bicycling enthusiasts and advocates.
Thank you to all the participants, volunteers, and sponsors. We have 19 new members after the tour and received 56 additional donations. Our SAG driver Kate Salter Jackson donated Jet Blue tickets as a raffle prize - a HUGE thank you to her.
We especially want to thank Bruce Lederer for organizing another successful tour to benefit MassBike. Bruce has been the driving (or rather, riding) force behind it all for eight years, making each tour better than the last!
If you missed this year's tour, you can see some pictures on the Mass BikePike Facebook page.
On August 9th, MassBike worked with the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition and the Boston Public Health Commission to host a playway at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mattapan. The event happened concurrently with the Mattapan Square Farmers Market and the 4th Annual Mattapan on Wheels bike ride. Mattapan on Wheels had two routes, an 8 mile family-friendly ride and a 16 mile expert route that showcased a route to downtown Boston from Mattapan.
Boston Bikes provided bicycles to participants who did not have their own. Boston Cyclists Union was at the event providing bike maintenance for riders. When the bike riders arrived back at the Church of the Holy Spirit, they participated in fitness activities including tennis, jumping rope, and a bike rodeo.
Healthy foods were generously donated by Kind Snacks and Equal Exchange. MassBike would like to thank Jon Ramos of Southie Bikes for providing music via his bike trailer, as well as Boston Bikes and Boston Cyclists Union for participating in the event!
On August 5th, MassBike conducted a bike audit on streets near the Wollaston T station in Quincy, MA. The audit is a part of a larger pilot assessment program focused on multi-modal transit in cities and towns across the country. Quincy joins Lansing, Michigan and Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas as a part of the project to increase awareness of multi-modal transit use and safety enhancements.
Quincy is an interesting case study because it is focused on increasing safety and usability for bikeable and walkable routes to the transit station. The reports will be submitted to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and will contribute to a toolkit of best practices for creating a model that can be replicated nationwide for conducting bikeability, walkability, and transit-focused assessments.
The participants of the bike audit included representation from the Federal Transit Authority, Federal Highway Administration, US DOT Volpe Center, MassDOT, MAPC, MBTA, the City of Quincy, MassBike, and WalkBoston.
Volunteers help with setup, parking bikes, getting cyclists to the parking area, and ensuring a seamless and hassle-free experience for users. After your shift, you will get a special volunteer pass so you can catch some of the game.
We need immediate help for the upcoming games.
Saturday, August 16: 5:00-7:00
Sunday, August 17: 11:30-1:30
During your shift, you'll have the chance to take a break. No previous Bike Valet experience necessary - we will train you.
If you are interested, please email Lenka@MassBike.org for more information. If you can't help out on the 16th and 17th, email Lenka@MassBike.org to ask about other Fenway Park Bike Valet opportunities.
Volunteers make up a huge part of our success, so we want to make volunteering with us even better. Anyone who volunteers ten hours of their time will automatically earn a MassBike membership.
Playways are temporary street closures in which the street is blocked for cars to traverse and inhibits the reclamation of streets for people and play. At DSNI's playway, the focus was on promoting healthy foods and fitness through yoga demonstrations, a bike rodeo, ball playing, and tug-of-war. DSNI youth took charge of managing informational tables focused on gardening, healthy food choices, and neighborhood development. Healthy foods were generously donated by Kind Snacks, Harvest Co-op, Equal Exchange, and Iggy's Bread of the World. Art supplies were donated by Artist & Craftsman.
MassBike would like to thank Bikes Not Bombs, Boston Bikes, and Mary Thomas of Wild Seed Yoga for participating in the playway event.
[caption id="attachment_22834" align="alignleft" width="283"] Free Valet Bike Parking at Saturday and Sunday Home Games[/caption]
Did you park your bike with us at Fenway Park on July 19th or July 20th? If so you were one of the many who took advantage of the free Valet Bicycle Parking for Bike to the Ballpark. The launch of this program was a big hit, and we are extremely pleased to announce that MassBike is continuing to partner with the Boston Red Sox through our Valet Bicycle Parking service for #biketotheballpark.
Now through September, every Saturday and Sunday home game will offer this convenient, free way to arrive at the ballpark. Coast in, hand your bike to one of our trained staff, and enjoy some baseball. When you are done cheering on the Sox, come back, claim your bike, and ride away.
If you have tickets for this weekend’s August 2nd or August 3rd game, ride your bike and avoid the expensive parking lot down the road. After all, not only is it free to park your bike with us, the Valet Bicycle Parking offers the closest parking to Fenway during a game. In other words, if you Bike to the Ballpark this weekend, you can get the best parking and it costs nothing.
The MassBike free Valet Bicycle Parking is located by Gate D, at the corner of Yawkey Way and Van Ness Street. It is best to approach Fenway Park on your bike from the Boylston Street side of Fenway.
For any questions about Valet Bicycle Parking, please contact email@example.com or call 617-542-2453 (BIKE).
We’ll see you at the game!