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!

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
Email: http://www.warren.senate.gov/?p=email_senator

Contact Senator Markey:
Phone: (202) 224-2742
Email: http://www.markey.senate.gov/contact.cfm

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 action@massbike.org.

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 Jimmy@MassBike.org.

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 Education@MassBike.org.

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.

Making The Cape Great For Biking

We all knew the Cape was great for biking. All you have to do is go to the Bourne Bridge in the summer and take a look at all the bikes strapped to cars to know that the Cape is a destination for bicycling. But advocates on the Cape are actively working to make bicycling easier, more comfortable, and more convenient for tourists and year-rounders.

To discuss this effort more fully, Mass in Motion Barnstable County, in collaboration with MassBike and others, hosted the Cape Cod Bicycle Summit: Healthy Cyclists, Healthy Communities on Friday, November 8th. With 150 participants, this summit was a smashing success. There was a great conversation among residents and local, regional and statewide transportation and economic development experts.

The day started with remarks from State Senator Dan Wolf, a long-time Cape resident and founder of Cape Air (pictured right). He described his personal affinity for bicycling (it's always great to hear from elected officials who bike!) and the importance of bicycling on the Cape.

Speaking to statewide issues, Steve Woelfel of MassDOT and David Watson, MassBike's Executive Director, discussed how bicycling connects to statewide goals. David, in particular, described the excellent work in our communities that MassBike has been able to do through the Bikeable Communities Program, supported through statewide initiatives like Mass in Motion.

Speaking to the regional perspective, Thomas Cahir (Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority), Wendy Northcross (Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce), and Martha Hevenor (Cape Cod Commission) discussed the importance of bicycling to the local economy and ways in which the region is supporting bicycling. The three organizations represented were eager to discuss a new initiative which provides bike lights to the seasonal workers, who often ride after dark without any lights, and new signage that will go up on the Cape's myriad of bicycle routes.

Richard Fries from People for Bikes provided the closing remarks for the morning program. He spoke about the importance of branding (or re-branding) bicycling to get more people out there on bikes. His key message: take a cue from the car companies. We need to sell biking as cool, fun, and sexy - in short, as a lifestyle.

The day wrapped up with a basic bike advocacy training from Programs Director Price Armstrong (me). The presentation dealt with how to be effective in advocating for change at the local level, including building and maintaining relationships, staying focused, and not getting discouraged or burned out. Effective advocacy includes a balance of personal stories and data to convince decision makers that the pro-bike choice is the right choice.

Several initiatives emerged out of this, including the above-mentioned seasonal workers bike lights initiative and also a bike safety information direct mailing in two towns. A big thanks goes out to the conference organizers, including the Barnstable County Department of Human Services, the town of Barnstable, the Cape Cod Commission, the MassBike Cape and Islands Chapter (and especially Rob Miceli, chapter president), and the Office of Senator Dan Wolf. We are looking forward to continuing the good work on the Cape as these initiatives move forward.

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.

Lights: See and Be Seen!

Halloween’s come and gone, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are fast approaching, and Christmas is just around the corner. Tis the season for lights! See and be seen on the roadways all year round by installing both a front white light and a rear red light on your bicycle. Massachusetts law is a great guide to visibility at night (link here).

There are a number of different types of bike lights out there -- USB or battery-powered, low-watt or double-watt, etc. The critical part is to make sure that your lights are visible. Bikeyface had a great post (check it out here) that illustrates the importance of light placement: make sure that your long coat, groceries, or many layers don't cover up the lights. And don't forget your lights and batteries at home alongside your forgotten lunch!

Lights are too expensive, you say? Well, if you are a MassBike Member, be sure to check out our bike shop partners who will give you a discount on bike gear.

But why stop at just lights? It’s equally important to be visible from the sides and most light systems are not equipped to do so. Here are some ideas:

  • Pedal reflectors or reflective ankle straps (old-school pedals come with reflectors, ankle straps do double duty by keeping your pants away from your dirty chain, and some very stylish cycling shoes have reflectors built in).

  • Reflectors or reflective material visible from the side (lots of options, including wheel reflectors, reflective tires, jackets, vests, and reflective tape and stickers that can go on almost anything).

  • For instance, check out this nifty product from a Pittsburgh-based start-up, Fiks:Reflective: reflective rim stripes

You wouldn’t drive a car after dark without lights, so why would you ride a bike that way? Remember, you don’t get extra points for being a bike ninja. Be seen and stay safe!

Guest post written by MassBike's Programs Intern Barbara Jacobson. For more info and a good read, check out our previous posts about lights, visibility, and the law: It’s Time To Light Up! | Light Up The Night!Bicycling at Night? Use Lights and Reflectors!

Gateway Cities, Bikeway Cities Presented At Moving Together

Last week, bicycle, pedestrian, and transit advocates gathered in Boston for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation's annual Moving Together conference. Plenary speakers included the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Housing and Community Development, the Director of MassPort, and the Secretary of Energy and Environment. In all, it was a great opportunity for advocates and professionals to reconnect, learn about the most recent transportation initiatives in the state, and sharpen knowledge of cutting-edge best practices to further non-automotive transportation.

MassBike's Program Associate Jimmy Pereira presented at the conference on the work MassBike is doing in the Commonwealth's Gateway Cities. His presentation, "Gateway Cities, Bikeway Cities" went over the projects in Springfield, Holyoke, and Barnstable (among others) that MassBike is undertaking to promote bicycling in these redeveloping communities.

Gateway Cities, as defined by MassInc, are older mid-sized communities in Massachusetts which have an industrial legacy and serve as regional centers outside of Boston. Importantly, many key indicators for these cities indicate a sharp decline in the post-war period. Rates of poverty, low educational attainment, increases in crime (property crime, in particular) and a straining of the tax base define the issues many of these communities face. However, these communities are also among the Commonwealth's most diverse, and both long-time residents and newer arrivals in these communities have worked hard to keep them vibrant, despite these obstacles.

MassBike is committed to equitable investment in bicycle facilities around the state, not just in the Boston area. As Jimmy pointed out, the fundamental requirement for this work is that we help these communities realize their vision, not provide a vision for them. We firmly believe that our role as statewide advocates is to give local bike advocates tools to further their own priorities. In the end, this approach has been more sustainable, successful, and appropriate. Because the work of changing the built environment has a long timeline, significant community engagement is critical; the key to the long-term success of this work is having buy-in from the community.

Springfield Installs First Bike Lanes

MassBike's work in Springfield is paying off! Over the weekend, Springfield installed its first continuous bike lane in the city on Plumtree Road, in the East Forest Park neighborhood. The striped bike lane is one mile long and provides a connection from Western New England University to destinations such as Sixteen Acres Center, a commercial district with restaurants and shopping, and a number of parks and ponds.

Last month, MassBike and the City of Springfield hosted a public meeting and information session to give neighborhood residents the opportunity to learn more about the bike lane project on Plumtree Road. It proved to be a productive meeting, and the end result is the implementation of a quality bicycle facility—the first of its kind—in the City of Springfield.

This exciting project would not be possible without the leadership of two key individuals: Al Chwalek, Executive Engineer of Springfield Department of Public Works, and Chris Cignoli, Springfield's City Engineer.

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.

Donate Join our Mailing List Volunteer
Accept Credit Cards