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

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 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!

Support MassBike On "Giving Tuesday"!

Black Friday...Shop Local Saturday...Cyber Monday...Giving Tuesday!

Many people are busy shopping for gifts for friends and loved ones these days, braving crowded stores and chasing online deals. But there is another way to bring meaning to the holiday season. Giving Tuesday (#GivingTuesday online) is a chance to pause, reflect, and redirect some of that energy to causes you believe in.

So I’d like to ask you to give a gift to MassBike this Tuesday, December 3rd, that will help save lives and make our communities more livable, our children healthier, our environment cleaner, and our roads safer – and put smiles on the faces of more people riding bicycles in Massachusetts!

MassBike is working in communities across Massachusetts with our Bikeable Communities Program, our Education Program, and our continuing advocacy with legislators and federal, state, and local officials for laws, policies, roads, and paths that make bicycling as safe, convenient, and fun as we all know it can be.

Please take a few moments and give a gift for bicyclist safety. Thanks from all of us at MassBike!

Action Alert: Ask Congress to Prevent Bicyclist and Pedestrian Fatalities

We are always saddened by the loss of one of our fellow bicycling community members. Even one death is too many as far as we're concerned, and right now there is a bill in Congress that aims to hold the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) and state DOTs accountable for the lives of all road users. Simply put, the US should have a national goal to reduce pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities. And this bill could start it!

Please contact your members of Congress to ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 3494 / S. 1708, which requires USDOT to account for and work to reduce bicyclist and pedestrian deaths.

Last year, people who bike and walk represented 16.3 percent of all traffic deaths, a total of 5,469 people killed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As mandated by Congress, USDOT sets performance goals (including ones dealing directly with safety) for motorized traffic. USDOT has refused to set a safety goal for non-motorized transportation (which includes people who walk, bike, and other vulnerable road users).

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act states that the lives of all roadway users are important and creates accountability toward ending needless deaths.

It gives US DOT the flexibility to determine the best method to meet these safety measures, and calls on our leaders to reduce the number of people biking and walking who are killed or injured on our streets every year.            

It’s time that we all stand together to say that the deaths of bicyclists and pedestrians deserve to be counted and prevented, too. Please help us build the momentum for this important legislation by contacting your members of Congress to ask them to co-sponsor these bipartisan bills.
Click me

We need you to do 3 things right now:

1. Contact Senator Markey and Senator Warren and ask each of them to co-sponsor S. 1708, which requires USDOT to account for and work to reduce bicyclist and pedestrian deaths.

Contact Senator Warren:
Phone: (202) 224-4543

Contact Senator Markey:
Phone: (202) 224-2742

2. Contact your Representative and ask him or her to co-sponsor H.R. 3494, which requires USDOT to account for and work to reduce bicyclist and pedestrian deaths.

District |  Representative, Office Number, Link to Email Form

1   |   Rep. Neal, Richard, 202-225-5601, Email
2   |   Rep. McGovern, James, 202-225-6101, Email
3   |   Rep. Tsongas, Niki,  202-225-3411, Email
4   |   Rep. Kennedy III, Joseph P.,  202-225-5931, Email
5   |   VACANT
6   |   Rep. Tierney, John, 202-225-8020, Email
7   |   Rep. Capuano, Michael, 202-225-5111, Email
8   |   Rep. Lynch, Stephen, 202-225-8273, Email
9   |   Rep. Keating, William, 202-225-3111, Email

Don’t know who your U.S. Representative is? Click here and enter your zip code to find out.

3. Let us know who you contacted (and any feedback you receive) by cc’ing or emailing

Thank you so much for your help in this effort to ensure that the USDOT values the lives of all roadway users.

Springfield Bike Lane Celebration

Springfield is well on the way to better biking, and when we look back we can say it all started with the bike lane on Plumtree Road. As we wrote about recently, it is thanks to our work with the City of Springfield and, specifically, the leadership of their Public Works Director Al Chwalek, that we were able to get this bicycle facility installed.

Accordingly, MassBike, in collaboration with the City of Springfield and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC), has planned a celebration of this groundbreaking facility. We encourage bicyclists to come out, rain or shine, for this event.

When: Monday, November 25 at 12 PM
Where: The corner of Plumtree Road and Puritan Road

We are hoping to get Mayor Sarno to attend and say a few words, and there will be representatives from MassBike, the City, PVPC, and other community groups. While we celebrate this as a victory for MassBike, it is really a victory for a much larger coalition called Live Well Springfield. MassBike is just one player in a cross-cutting effort to get more nutritious food and active living options into downtown Springfield.

Please join us if you can. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our Program Associate Jimmy Pereira at

As part of our Bikeable Communities Program, we offer a number of technical assistance services, including Bicycle Planning Assistance, Bikeability Assessments, and Bikeable Communities Trainings.

Safe Routes To School - Wait, Did You Say FREE?

Did you know that MassBike offers free bike safety trainings to children grades 4 - 8? That's right, I said FREE. Each school year, MassBike teaches thousands of elementary and middle school children how to ride their bikes more safely. Since beginning our youth education outreach, we’ve brought our school-age workshops to schools in Worcester, Cambridge, Salem, Franklin, Framingham and dozens of other communities around the Commonwealth. We want your community's school to be next.

If you are interested in bringing a trainer to a school in your community, or if you have any questions, email

Typically, the biggest obstacle to organizing these trainings is time. Kids' school days are chock full of required curriculum, and so arranging for a 45-minute bicycle safety class can sometimes be difficult. We can help the teachers or schools brainstorm ways to arrange the schedule so that it works for them.

The MassBike Safe Routes to School curriculum reviews basic maintenance (Air, Brakes, Chain & Quick Release), rules of the road, proper helmet fitting and overall visibility. Our instructors tailor the message to age-level to ensure that these critical safety lessons are most appropriate, effective and empowering. Classes are made possible through MassRIDES, a program of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation that promotes biking, walking, and transit use.

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