Why You Should Attend MassDOT's Capital Investment Plan Meetings

[caption id="attachment_21461" align="alignnone" width="512"] Like what you see? Tell MassDOT to fund bicycle and pedestrian projects. Photo: John Phelan[/caption]

Bicycle and pedestrian advocates across Massachusetts are excited and encouraged by Governor Patrick's and MassDOT's efforts to ensure long term investments in infrastructure that encourages more bicycle and pedestrian trips in the Commonwealth.

Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) released its draft Capital Investment Plan (CIP) for the 2014-2018 fiscal years. Within the plan, bike and pedestrian capital funding is set to increase from around $4 million in FY 2014 to over $17 million in FY 2015, with investment totaling $130 million over the plan's five year period.

The good news is that this $130 million in proposed investment represents a huge opportunity for Massachusetts residents to see many long dreamed-of projects come to life. This funding will be used for construction and reconstruction of bikeways and bike paths, including rail trails and scenic byways. There is also room for funding of bicycle facilities within roadway and bridge spending. Additionally, the CIP outlines significant investments in transit projects around the Commonwealth.

In the coming weeks, MassDOT will be hosting series of public meetings throughout the Commonwealth to gather input on the CIP. We strongly encourage you to attend the meeting closest to you to let MassDOT know how important it is that the proposed bicycle and pedestrian investments are included at their full levels in the finalized CIP. And, if you have questions about why certain projects were included - or not included - in the CIP, now is the time to ask. We can, and should, thank MassDOT for proposing significantly increased investment in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, while at the same time letting them know we want them to do even more!

What's in the CIP

Bicycle and Pedestrian: $130 million over five years for rail trails, bikeways, multi-use paths and related projects. Some highlights include portions of the Cochituate Rail Trail in Framingham, segment 7 of the Blackstone River Bikeway in Worcester, segments of the Columbia Greenway in Westfield, and much more. We encourage you to read the full list within the draft CIP.

Transit:  $3.5 billion over five years including flagship projects such as the Green Line extension to Medford, South Coast rail expansion, making Cape Cod rail service permanent, and more. This investment will encourage multimodal trips that include a combination of bicycling, walking, and transit.

When and Where




We understand that the draft CIP document is very dense and full of information. If you have any specific questions about understanding which projects are included in the draft plan, please feel free to email us at bikeinfo@massbike.org.

14 Priorities For 2014

New year, new priorities. 2014 is going to be a busy year for MassBike. As we all know, there is a lot that we can do to make biking safer, more convenient, and more fun in the Bay State. But we've narrowed it down to a list of 14 priorities for 2014.

  1. Legislative Agenda - We will continue working to pass the safety bills we introduced at the beginning of the legislative session last year. These bills include the Vulnerable Road Users Bill (S 1639) and the Bike Lane Protection Bill (S 1640), among others. You can read more about them here. Now in its third year, the Massachusetts Bike/Walk Summit at the State House is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, April 3 from 10 AM - 1 PM.

  2. Bikeable Communities Program - We've already completed projects in 37 communities under our flagship program, and we will expand our work empowering local advocates to more communities, especially focusing on our state's Gateway Cities. Read more about the Bikeable Communities Program here.

  3. Police Education - Police Departments are recognizing that understanding the rules for bicyclists (and other road users), and recognizing what safe - and unsafe - interactions look like , is more important than ever. This Spring, we will release our new bicycle safety training video for police officers to help improve safety for everyone on our roadways.

  4. Commercial Driver Licensing - With the tragic deaths of several bicyclists in Massachusetts from crashes with large vehicles, it is clear that there is a serious need for better training for truck and bus drivers. Following up on our successful work with MBTA bus drivers, we are already working on adding bicycle-specific safety training to the Commercial Driver Licensing process.

  5. Youth Bike Safety Training - We are expanding our on-bike child safety training to after-school programs, one in the Boston area and one in the Berkshires. One of them will be with high schoolers, an age group we typically don't get to work with. We think more intensive safety training for kids is essential for a more bike-friendly future, and these pilot programs will help us develop an effective educational model for Massachusetts.

  6. Federal/State Funding - On Beacon Hill, we will continue working with legislators to make sure that bicycling is given its fair share of funding. On Capitol Hill, we will visit our members of Congress in March for the National Bike Summit to urge them to increase funding for bicycling.

  7. Valet Bike Parking - Valet bike parking is a really public way to encourage people to ride their bikes to events, and we did a lot of it in 2013 - from EarthFest in May to the Boston Bike Party Halloween Ride in October. But we want to do even more of it! You can help by connecting us with your favorite restaurants, shops, venues, and events. We think all large events should offer valet bike parking!

  8. Bay State Bike Week - 2013 was our biggest year yet for Bay State Bike Week, with 175 events and an estimated 14,000 participants. We want to make it even bigger. Have you started planning your community's event?

  9. National Bike Challenge - MassBike brought the National Bike Challenge to Massachusetts in 2013, and we want a lot more people to participate in 2014. Are you ready for the challenge?

  10. Awareness Campaign - There are a lot of road users out there, and we all need to get along. We cannot reach everyone on our own, so we will work with other advocacy groups to increase safety awareness as broadly as possible.

  11. Build Our Volunteer Base - Everything from tabling events to monthly renewals to bike valet needs the dedicated hands of our volunteers. We want to increase the number of volunteers we have so that MassBike can do even more for bicyclists! Are you interested in getting involved? Contact Volunteer@MassBike.org

  12. Grow Membership - What would MassBike be without its members? Everything we do, we can only do with the support of our membership. We count on members to call their legislators, to come to our events, to volunteer, and to support all our programs - you are the bedrock of our organization. It's simple: more members means more political clout and more resources. If you aren't a dues-paying member of MassBike, we hope you will sign up here. And tell your friends - we are working for everyone who rides a bike in Massachusetts.

  13. Increase Donations - The reality is that we need money to make it all happen. We count on donations for a large percentage of our operations. If we want to grow our advocacy in communities around the state, be the voice for bicyclists at more project meetings, and move toward zero bicyclist fatalities, we need to increase donations. If you are interested in donating to MassBike, you can do so here.

  14. Have Fun! - Look forward to a calendar full of fun and exciting events in 2014!

That's quite a list, but with a little help from you we should be able to get it done. Thanks in advance!

MassBike Welcomes Two New Staff Members

MassBike is very pleased to introduce our two newest staff members, Charlotte Troy, Programs Director, and Nathaniel Fink, Communications and Outreach Manager.

Charlotte comes to us with a background in urban planning and a focus on bicycle advocacy and alternative transportation systems. Her professional experience includes research and writing; program development, management, and evaluation; community outreach and participation; and workshop facilitation and design. At MassBike, she manages the Bikeable Communities Program with the goal of building local capacity to promote better bicycling throughout the Commonwealth. She holds B.A. in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and a M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Nathaniel brings to MassBike his experience in non-profit development, social media and blogging, and a passion for bicycle advocacy. As Communications and Outreach Manager, Nathaniel will be working to generate excitement and build momentum around the important work MassBike is doing to make Massachusetts safer and more accommodating for bicycling and encouraging new people to ride. He holds a B.F.A in Photography from Maryland Institute College of Art.

Welcome aboard, Charlotte and Nathaniel!

Springfield's Pedestrian & Bicycle Plan Takes Shape

Continuing public outreach to the Springfield community through the Live Well Springfield community partnership, MassBike held a public meeting at the Armoury-Quadrangle Civic Association (AQCA) last week to gather input for developing the City of Springfield Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan. AQCA, an all-volunteer non-profit organization representing residents and businesses in the Armoury-Quadrangle neighborhood of downtown Springfield, hosted the meeting. Carol Costa, AQCA President, opened the meeting with updates on neighborhood issues and introduced MassBike and Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) staff to the audience. Roughly 25 Springfield and area residents attended the meeting to share their ideas for improving walking and biking in and around the city.

Residents provided written comments through the Springfield Bicycling and Walking Survey and marked up neighborhood maps illustrating potential bicycle routes, dangerous pedestrian crossings, and other barriers to safe walking and biking in Springfield. Comments from residents spanned numerous topics with particular concerns being voiced around safe access to bus stops in snowy conditions, unsafe pedestrian crossings at specific locations, connections to a proposed rail-trail project in the McKnight Neighborhood, and providing bicycle lanes on important corridors that connect neighborhoods, such as State Street.

If you live or ride a bike in Springfield, we encourage you to take the Springfield Bicycling and Walking Survey to help shape the Springfield Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan. 

We also encourage Springfield residents to attend the final three public input meetings for the Springfield Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan:

What: Public Meeting on the Springfield Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan
When: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 - 5:00 PM
Where: Bay Area Neighborhood Council
Karen Sprague Cultural Arts Center
American International College
1000 State Street,
Springfield MA 01109

Where: Forest Park Civic Association
When: Details coming soon

Where: New North Citizens Council
When: Details coming soon

This work has been made possible through MassBike’s involvement in Live Well Springfield, a coalition of community organizations, including Partners for a Healthier Community, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and the City of Springfield. The city's first bike lane is a direct result of that work. Read more about our efforts here.

New Report Illustrates Westfield's Bikeability

MassBike has been working in Westfield for the past several months to create a Bikeability Assessment for the Friends of the Columbia Greenway Trail (FOCGRT). The report details how the city can improve its bicycling infrastructure to attract new bicyclists and make it safer for all road users. Back in July 2013, MassBike led a training for eight local residents who volunteered their time to collect data and gather observations about key roadway segments.

We're excited to help these local advocates work toward their goal: to make Westfield's streets safer for bicyclists of all ages and abilities. At future project meetings, this assessment can help make the case to local stakeholders that bicycle-friendly infrastructure is worth the investment.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="235"] Clipboards in hand, evaluators used the MassBike Bikeability Assessment Tool, coupled with their local knowledge, to observe the extent to which Westfield's built environment is bikeable.[/caption]

Westfield, which is located in the Pioneer Valley, has plans to expand its bicycling network with the construction of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail. When completed, this shared-use linear path will span 3.2 miles and connect Westfield all the way to New Haven, CT as part of the Farmington Valley Greenway. As part of MassDOT's Bay State Greenway, the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail will eventually extend north from the Westfield River, connecting to communities in Southampton, Easthampton (via the Manhan Rail Trail) and Amherst (via the Norwottuck Rail Trail). The impetus for Westfield’s investment in this project can largely be attributed to local leaders like Don Podolski, Owner of New Horizons Bikes (the city’s local bicycle shop) and Jeff LaValley, Chair of the FOCGRT, other dedicated advocates, local politicians and state officials.

You can read the full report here. Overall, the evaluators had the following observations:

  1. Add bike lanes on corridors wide enough to accommodate them.

  2. Optimize underutilized road space by including bicycle-specific infrastructure along corridors.

  3. Bicycle-specific infrastructure that provides dedicated space for bicyclists should be installed at key intersections.

  4. Introduce low-cost bicycle facilities like way-finding signage and bike parking racks.

We all hope that this report can provide a foundation for discussions on how to improve bicycling in Westfield. In particular, we hope that local advocates can engage elected officials and other key stakeholders to act upon the observations for future projects. MassBike plans to continue working with the local advocates to make better biking a reality in Westfield.

As part of our Bikeable Communities Program, we offer a number of services, such as Bicycle Planning Assistance to facilitate a strategy for implementing bicycle-related projects, Bikeability Assessments to evaluate a community’s current state of bike-friendliness, and Bikeable Communities Trainings to help local advocates engage with key stakeholders and understand how to improve local infrastructure conditions.

Register Today For The National Bike Summit

We invite you to join us at this year's National Bike Summit on March 3-5. Register by midnight January 24th and receive a $100 early-bird discount on the registration feeThis year's theme is "United Spokes: Moving Beyond Gridlock".

For over a decade, MassBike has coordinated the Massachusetts delegation to the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC. This is the nation's largest annual bicycle advocacy event,  a chance to go to Washington and let our congresspeople know how important it is to continue promoting policies and funding that favor bicycling. Join over 700 participants from around the country who share a passion for bicycle advocacy, learn about new research and data, and shape the national conversation on better bicycling. This year's summit will host the third annual Women's Bicycle Forum, which brings together women bicycle advocates to build leadership and promote equity in bicycling.

Even if you are new to legislative advocacy, don't fear: we set up the meetings and train participants on what to do. Last year, we discussed important bicycling issues, shared stories, and networked with other advocates from across the country.

If you have any questions or plan to join us, please feel free to call 617-542-2453 or email Kim Niedermaier at Kim@MassBike.org.

Update: Early-bird registration has been extended through midnight January 24th.

Give Me 2 Minutes!

Two minutes is all it takes to save lives and build healthier communities. If you already know that MassBike is working hard to make bicycling safer and more convenient for more people – no need to read further. Help us finish 2013 strong and prepare for the challenges of 2014 by making your most generous charitable gift to MassBike right now.

We have made great progress in 2013, but the ride continues uphill, with more challenges to overcome:

So please take two minutes right now to support our efforts to meet these challenges.  Make your tax-deductible contribution to MassBike by December 31.

Springfield Residents Discuss How To Improve Streets

[caption id="attachment_21237" align="alignright" width="225"] VACA Youth Gathered Around A Neighborhood Map[/caption]

Last week, MassBike held three public meetings in Springfield to get input on barriers to biking and walking in the city, and thoughts on what our priorities should be to improve the streets. These public meetings were hosted by Live Well Springfield's community partners, Gardening The Community (GTC), Mason Square Health Task Force (MSHTF), Vietnamese-American Civic Association (VACA), and Caring Health Center. MassBike brought large maps, distributed surveys, and led the discussion to generate ideas for making things better.

There will be one more public meeting held in Metro Center some time in January (the details are still being finalized). If you cannot make the public meetings, then please feel free to give your input here.

The attendees were candid and informative about the barriers they face every day when biking or walking. Attendees from GTC and MSHTF highlighted the need for better bicycle facilities. Gardening The Community is an organization that grows food on an urban farm and then delivers the food via bicycle to customers. Because of this, they are keenly aware of the deficit of bicycle facilities in the city. In particular, they highlighted I-291 as a barrier which cuts Springfield in half (I-291 is an urban highway connector from the Mass Pike to I-91). There was also a more general desire for better separation and protection from motor vehicle traffic.

There were two meetings hosted at VACA in the Forest Park neighborhood, primarily attended by members of the Vietnamese Community. At the first meeting, there were several elderly residents (mostly women) who primarily walk or use transit to travel. The second meeting was attended by young men, anywhere from 12 years old to 24. Despite the age and gender differences, the primary concern for both groups was crime. Of course, that meant the number one thing for them to make the city more comfortable for biking and, more specifically, walking would be to reduce this kind of crime.

The purpose of these meetings is to inform the priorities of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan that the City of Springfield, in partnership with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and MassBike, is putting together. This is being done under Live Well Springfield, a coalition of community partners working to improve the health and vitality of Springfield's underserved neighborhoods.

As part of our Bikeable Communities Program, we offer a number of services, such as Bicycle Planning Assistance to facilitate a strategy for implementing bicycle-related projects, Bikeability Assessments to evaluate a community’s current state of bike-friendliness, and Bikeable Communities Trainings to help local advocates engage with key stakeholders and understand how to improve local infrastructure conditions.

Legislative Update: MassBike ED Urges More Bike Funding

Yesterday, the House Bonding Committee held a public hearing on H.3763, also known as the Transportation Bond Bill. This bill is one of the intermediate steps in securing more funding for transportation infrastructure, including bicycling and walking facilities. Back in April and May, there was a major push to increase the amount of funding the state dedicates to transportation. Now the state needs the Legislature to give it the authority to issue bonds to actually fund building roads, bridges, transit stations, multi-use paths, and everything else.

The good news is that the Governor's proposal includes almost $430 million for bike/ped infrastructure is in the bond bill. The bad news is that even if this allocation in the bond bill survives the legislative process, the funding is not "real" until it is included in the budget. Nonetheless, we are working hard to make sure that this provision makes it to that next step. To that end, MassBike Executive Director David Watson testified:

  • We strongly support the $429,755,000 allocated for multi-use paths. While this is a significant number, it is important to keep it in perspective in this $12 billion bond bill. According to MassDOT's 2012 Household Travel Survey, biking and walking represent over 20% of all trips in Massachusetts, yet have historically received less than 1% of transportation funding. The allocation in the bond bill is still far less than a fair share based on mode share, but would fund dozens of much-needed off-road connections. Making this investment in biking and walking infrastructure is completely consistent with the statewide Mode Shift goal to triple the share of biking, walking, and transit by 2030, by providing more opportunities for people to safely and conveniently choose to bike or walk.

  • MassBike works with dozens of communities statewide through our Bikeable Communities Program, largely in partnership with the Department of Public Health's Mass in Motion Program. These communities, many of which are Gateway Cities facing serious health and economic disparities, need and want the economic, health, environmental, and other benefits that come with investment in biking and walking infrastructure.

  • An additional $50,000,000 should be allocated to fund the Active Streets bill. We have great statewide design standards and policies that require Complete Streets in MassDOT-funded projects. But those standards and policies do not apply to local projects. The Active Streets bill would create a financial incentive for communities to choose to embed these principles in their day-to-day road work and actually implement Complete Streets.

When we get to the budget debate, we may need your help to push our legislators to fully fund biking and walking, so stay tuned for an Action Alert. In the meantime, we will continue working with other organizations and our legislative partners to make sure biking and walking are an important part of the funding discussion.

Mark Your Calendars! MassBike's Annual Meeting is Around the Corner

The board and staff of MassBike invite you to our Annual Meetingon Thursday, December 19th, from 6-9 PM. This year, we're having an Open House at our office (171 Milk St, Suite 33, Boston, MA 02109).

From 6-7 PM, the MassBike Board of Directors will hold a business meeting, where Executive Director David Watson will review our 2013 accomplishments and preview our 2014 plans. Then socialize and enjoy pizza, Harpoon beer, and more. Food is generously provided by the event's sponsor, Jason & Fischer.

This is a great chance to meet others in the bicycling community working to make our rides safer and even more fun!

The event is free and open to the public, but a $5 donation is suggested.

Please RSVP to bikeinfo@massbike.org or here so we know how many people to expect and get enough pizza. Our office space is limited so be sure to RSVP as soon as possible to reserve spots for you and your friends!

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