DCR And Advocacy Groups Discuss Snow Removal And Bicycle Transportation Policies

March 27, 2014

Bicycle advocacy groups, including MassBike, Boston Cyclists Union, and LivableStreets Alliance, recently met with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to discuss the need to update DCR policies to reflect the use of their pathways as transportation facilities, and improve year-round maintenance and snow clearance policies. The meeting was the result of a response by the advocacy community to statements made by DCR in response to criticism over its handling of snow removal.

The meeting was very productive and positive. At present, we can report the following outcome from the meeting:
Advocates recently met with DCR Commissioner Murray and other officials to discuss snow removal and bicycle policies. The meeting was very positive and productive, with DCR acknowledging its important role in bicycle transportation and sharing agency plans to update its snow removal policy to meet current needs. DCR committed to a transparent and public process to address these issues this year.

This process with DCR and the advocacy community will be ongoing, and we will share further details as they emerge.
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4th Annual South Coast Bikeway Summit This Thursday

March 24, 2014

Exciting things are happening for biking on the South Coast.

This Thursday, March 27, the South Coast Bikeway Alliance will host the 4th annual summit from 5-8 pm at the Fort Tabor Community Center, 1000 Rodney French Blvd, New Bedford.

The festivities will begin with a welcome session from 5-6 pm followed by presentations from Fall River Mayor William Flanagan, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, Representative Bill Strauss, Co-Chair of the Joint Transportation Committee, and MassBike Executive Director David Watson.

Eric Weis and Molly Henry of the East Coast Greenway Alliance will unveil the "Old Colony Route" through South Coast region and this fall's planned "Yankee Roundabout" bike tour.

Willie Weir, a nationally acclaimed columnist for Adventure Cyclist Magazine and the author of Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will be the keynote speaker. Mr. Weir is also a photographer, radio commentator, inspirational speaker and bicycle advocate. Mr. Weir has cycled over 60,000 miles throughout the world.

The event is free to attend, but organizers are accepting donations to help offset summit expenses.

Visit the South Coast Bikeway Alliance website to get your tickets.
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Will The Supreme Court Ruling On Rail Trails Affect Massachusetts?

March 13, 2014
[caption id="attachment_21988" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Photos: Daderot[/caption]

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down it's decision in the "rail trails" case, Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust et al. v. United States. The ruling generated a lot of buzz within the bicycle advocacy community, particularly among rail trail advocates.

While initially the ruling appeared to seal a grim fate for existing and future rail trails, after careful review by rail trail advocates it now appears to be not quite so bad at the national level, and does not affect Massachusetts rail trails at all.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has put together an excellent blog post and infographic that details the impact of the Supreme Court ruling:
Existing rail-trails or trail projects ARE NOT affected by this decision if ANY of the following conditions are met:

  1. The rail corridor is “railbanked.”

  2. The rail corridor was originally acquired by the railroad by a federally granted right-of-way (FGROW) through federal lands before 1875.

  3. The railroad originally acquired the corridor from a private land owner.

  4. The trail manager owns the land adjacent to the rail corridor.

  5. The trail manager owns full title (fee simple) to the corridor.

  6. The railroad corridor falls within the original 13 colonies.

In Massachusetts, at least, we can breath a sigh of relief.
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MassBike Goes To Washington: A Recap Of The National Bike Summit

March 11, 2014
[caption id="attachment_21935" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] The MA delegation. Photo: MassBike[/caption]

“This isn't just an issue of recreation; it’s an issue of equality, bringing people together, expanding the middle class and helping people who are trying to get into the middle class.”

These were heartening words to hear coming from keynote speaker US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx at last week’s 2014 National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C., where the focus was "United Spokes: Moving Beyond Gridlock." Over 700 people attended from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada, and heard from top leaders Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ), former Chicago Transportation Commissioner and current fellow at the Urban Land Institute Gabe Klein, and more.

[caption id="attachment_21941" align="alignleft" width="300"] MA delegates with Senator Markey. Photo: MassBike[/caption]

Among the speakers, Massachusetts was well represented with presentations by MassDOT Assistant Secretary for GreenDOT Ned Codd, Boston Bikes Director Nicole Freedman, and LivableStreets Campaign Coordinator Jamie Maier.

MassBike was represented at the Summit by Executive Director David Watson, Program Manager Kim Niedermaier, Communications and Outreach Manager Nathaniel Fink, and Program Associate Jimmy Pereira, who all had opportunities to network and share stories with other advocates from across the country, and attend breakout sessions such as "Moving Beyond the Bikelash," "Why Equity, Why Now?" and "Quantifying Bike Benefits," and others. Kim also attended the Women's Forum, which took place on Monday.

[caption id="attachment_21959" align="alignright" width="300"] MA delegates with Rep. McGovern. Photo: MassBike[/caption]

In addition to the MassBike staff members, the Massachusetts delegation was comprised of Steven Bercu of Boston Cyclists Union, Gary Briere of Berkshires to Boston Tour, Jack Johnson of Landry's Bicycles, Jamie Maier of LivableStreets Alliance, Jessica Mink of MassPaths, Galen Mook of Landry's Bicycles, AB Bikes, and Commonwheels Bicycle Co-Op, Scott Mullen of LivableStreets Alliance, Bob Nesson of Power to the Pedals, Don Podolski of New Horizons Bikes, and John Siemiatkoski of League of American Bicyclists. Nicole Freedman and Najah Shakir of Boston Bikes were present as non-lobbying attendees.

On Wednesday morning, bike advocates from across the country, including the Massachusetts delegates, flooded Capitol Hill for Lobby Day. Heading into Lobby Day, Massachusetts Representatives Mike Capuano, Jim McGovern, Niki Tsongas, Bill Keating, and Katherine Clark, and Senator Ed Markey were already co-sponsors of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act (HR 3494). Rep. John Tierney was a co-sponsor of HR 3494 and New Opportunities For Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure (HR 3978). You can read more details about each of the bills here.

[caption id="attachment_21962" align="alignleft" width="300"] MA delegates with Rep. Clark. Photo: MassBike[/caption]

During the course of the days events, Rep. McGovern committed to co-sponsoring the Safe Streets Act (HR 2468) and HR 3978, and Rep. Tierney committed to co-sponsor HR 2468. MassBike staff members met directly with Rep. McGovern, Rep. Clark, and Senator Markey, and exchanged quick greetings with Rep. Kennedy and Rep. Capuano.

MassBike Executive Director David Watson had an extensive conversation with Senator Warren outside the Senate chamber about Community Transformation Grant funding and creating performance metrics for bike and pedestrian safety. After their conversation, Senator Warren was spotted on the Senate floor wearing her bright green bicycle pin.

[caption id="attachment_21944" align="alignright" width="169"] Photo: Jessica Mink[/caption]

According to Watson, "These were the most effective Capitol Hill meetings we've had in the eight years I've done this. What is most exciting is that we got some on-the-spot commitments from our representatives to co-sponsor legislation."

All together, this was an exciting and successful National Bike Summit and Lobby Day. We thank the organizers, all of our Massachusetts delegates, and to everybody who participated in Virtual Lobby Day.

Finally, we'd like to give a big thanks to our members and supporters, who make it possible for MassBike to continue this kind of important advocacy work on behalf of bicyclists, both at the national level and at home in Massachusetts.

If you are not already a member, please consider becoming one today. For more photos from the National Bike Summit, please visit our Facebook photo album.
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City of Boston Wins National Grant To Build Protected Bike Lanes

March 11, 2014
[caption id="attachment_21916" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Chicago's Dearborn Street cycle track: an example of the kind of protected bike infrastructure that could be coming soon to Boston. Photo: Steven Vance[/caption]

Here at MassBike, we were thrilled to hear the news yesterday that Boston was selected as one of PeopleForBikes' Green Lane Project cities. Under this intensive two-year program, Boston will be one of six US cities to receive "financial, strategic and technical assistance to create low-stress streets and increase vitality in urban centers through the installation of protected bike lanes." MassBike supported the City's application to the grant program, and looks forward to its implementation.

MassBike Executive Director David Watson was quoted in a post on the Boston Magazine blog:

“This is just what Boston needs to jumpstart the expansion of protected bike lanes here. We sent a letter of support for the city’s application to the Green Lane Project, and we are looking forward to seeing more people of all ages and abilities biking safely in Boston.”

With the announcement came a strong affirmation from Boston Mayor Marty Walsh that the city will continue to promote bicycling and expanding it's bike network:

"Over the next six years, I want to take Boston from one of the best bicycling cities in the country to one of the best in the world.  Investing in protected bike lanes is a critical path to that success."

This is indeed exciting news for Boston, and MassBike looks forward to continuing its work to promote better biking in cities and towns across Massachusetts through the Bikeable Communities Program and other exciting initiatives to accelerate the building of protected bike infrastructure in the coming year.
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Complete Streets Bill And Paths Funding Passes MA Senate

March 10, 2014
[caption id="attachment_21909" align="aligncenter" width="612"] People riding bikes on the Southwest Corridor in Jamaica Plain. Photo: Cycle Style Boston[/caption]

Last week, the Massachusetts Senate voted to approve the Transportation Bond Bill. The great news is that they voted to preserve $50 million for a Complete Streets incentive program, and $377 million over the next five years for bike and pedestrian paths. MassBike joins its Active Streets partners Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Massachusetts Public Health Association, WalkBoston, Transportation For Massachusetts, and Massachusetts YMCAs, who together coordinated efforts to advance this legislation, in celebrating this development.

According to MassBike Executive Director David Watson, "the $377 million for bike and pedestrian project funding is a victory and represents a major increase. We're not done yet - we still need to convince MassDOT to spend more than the $130 million for paths in the current Capital Investment Plan - but we've taken another step toward giving MassDOT the bonding flexibility to do more."

Throughout this process, MassBike continued its role as the voice for bicyclists in statewide advocacy efforts. After testifying at the Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets, we met together with our coalition partners and the staff of committee chairman Senator Brian Joyce (D-Milton). MassBike met individually with committee member State Senator Ken Donnelly (D-Arlington).

In addition, we sent action alerts to organizations in our statewide advocacy network, and also alerted our members in Senator Joyce's district to ask them to call or email in support of the funding. A big thanks goes out to those who voiced their support. This coordinated effort was pivotal in ensuring that the funding remained at the $377 million level.

The Transportation Bond Bill now goes to conference where the House and Senate will reconcile differences in each version. After that, it returns to both chambers for approval.
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Virtual Lobby Day: This Wednesday, Tell Congress To Support Biking!

March 02, 2014
[caption id="attachment_21823" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Photo: James D. Schwartz[/caption]

As we MassBike staffers cross our collective fingers for smooth travels to Washington, DC for the National Bike Summit with snow in the forecast, we want you to know about your opportunity to tell Congress to support bicycling, all from the comfort and warmth of your own home or office. Yes, the time has come once again for MassBike's National Bike Summit Virtual Lobby Day!

This Wednesday, March 5, join your fellow constituents from across Massachusetts in calling, emailing, and/or tweeting your representative and senators. The good news for us Bay Staters is that all of our legislators strongly support bicycling, but we still need to show our numbers and ask them to co-sponsor specific pieces of legislation.

In this post you will find all you need to successfully participate in Virtual Lobby Day, including this year's "asks", and detailed contact info for your Senators and Representative.

The Asks

*** UPDATED 3/4: Because our Senators and Representatives are so bike-friendly, a lot of them have already signed on as co-sponsors of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act (HR 3494)! If your Representative is one of the following, please thank them for co-sponsoring, rather than ask them to co-sponsor, when you call, email, or tweet them: Rep. Mike Capuano, Rep. Jim McGovern, Rep. Niki Tsongas, Rep. Bill Keating, and Rep. Katherine Clark. Senator Markey is also a sponsor of the Senate version of this bill (S 1708), so please thank him for his co-sponsorship when you contact him. Finally, if you are in Rep. John Tierney's district, please thank him for cosponsoring the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act (HR 3494) AND New Opportunities For Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure (HR 3978).

We recommend calling your Senators' and Representative's offices so they (or their staff) can hear the voices of their constituents directly. It's great to have their phones ringing off the hook all day, and it is also the easiest way to get in touch with them. Tell your Senators and Representative what bicycling means to you, your family, or your business – your personal story matters!

Whether you are calling, emailing, or tweeting, the sample emails we've provided below contain the specific "asks", and are a helpful reference no matter how you reach out. We encourage you to use these as a starting point for your own personal message, but feel free use them as they are. We've adapted the bullet points from the League of American Bicyclists's very helpful info page, which we strongly encourage you to review.

If you reach out by phone or email, send an email to action@massbike.org to let us know.

For the House of Representatives
Dear Representative ______________:

As a constituent who strongly supports providing more opportunities for people to use bicycles for transportation because of the many benefits it offers for our health, environment, and mobility, I am writing to you today to urge you to co-sponsor the following pieces of legislation:

  • The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act (HR 3494) would require the U.S. Department of Transportation set a specific performance measure for non-motorized safety, as well as for motorized safety. The number of bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities has risen for the past three years (2010 -2012) while overall traffic deaths have gone down dramatically. Without it, people who bike and walk will remain in the blindspot of our transportation system.

  • The Safe Streets Act (HR 2468) would ensure that all streets are designed, planned and built with all users in mind, including bicyclists and pedestrians. This bill will make streets safer for people driving cars, walking, biking and taking public transit — at little or no extra cost, and will not trigger any new federal spending.

  • The New Opportunities for Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Financing Act of 2014 (HR 3978) would take steps to advance equity for bicyclists and pedestrians, and offer mayors and communities a new tool for funding for bike/ped projects in low-income communities.

Thank you for your past and future support of bicycling.

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip
Your Phone Number

For the Senate
Dear Senator  ______________:

As a constituent who strongly supports providing more opportunities for people to use bicycles for transportation because of the many benefits it offers for our health, environment, and mobility, I am writing to you today to urge you to co-sponsor the following pieces of legislation:

  • The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act (S 1708) would require the U.S. Department of Transportation set a specific performance measure for non-motorized safety, as well as for motorized safety. The number of bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities has risen for the past three years (2010 -2012) while overall traffic deaths have gone down dramatically. Without it, people who bike and walk will remain in the blindspot of our transportation system.

  • The Safe Streets Act (S 2004) would ensure that all streets are designed, planned and built with all users in mind, including bicyclists and pedestrians. This bill will make streets safer for people driving cars, walking, biking and taking public transit — at little or no extra cost, and will not trigger any new federal spending.

Thank you for your past and future support of bicycling.

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip
Your Phone Number


If you use Twitter, tweeting directly to your Senators and Rep is a great way to let them know you want them to take action! You can find their Twitter handles below in 'Contact Info'. Of course, you can always come up with your own creative messaging - for instance, you could write one tweet for each bill - but we've provided some samples to get you started:

  • For your Rep: “[@RepX] Pls support bike safety and co-sponsor HR 3494, HR 2468 & HR 3978! #NBS14 #MassBike

  • For your Senators: “[@SenX] Pls support bike safety and co-sponsor S 1708 & S 2004! #NBS14 #MassBike

Be sure to use and follow the hashtags #NBS14 and #MassBike to stay in on the action!

Contact Info

If you'd like to send an email, please note you will have to use their online contact form. We've provided links to their online contact form which you can access by clicking on their name below. In most cases you will need to know your Zip Code + 4, which you can look up here, before you can proceed in submitting an email message.

House of Representatives

District Rep Name Office Number Twitter
1 Richard Neal 202-225-5601 @RepRichardNeal
2 Jim McGovern 202-225-6101 @RepMcGovern
3 Niki Tsongas 202-225-3411 @Nikiinthehouse
4 Joseph Kennedy III 202-225-5931 @RepJoeKennedy
5 Katherine Clark 202-225-2836 @RepKClark
6 John Tierney 202-225-8020 @RepTierney
7 Mike Capuano 202-225-5111 N/A
8 Stephen Lynch 202-225-8273 @RepStephenLynch
9 Bill Keating 202-225-3111 @USRepKeating

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


Senator Name Office Number Twitter
Elizabeth Warren 202-224-4543 @SenWarren
Ed Markey 202-224-2742 @MarkeyMemo


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Boston Speaks Up For Protected Bike Lanes

February 28, 2014
[caption id="attachment_21814" align="aligncenter" width="960"] Photo: Jon Ramos/Southie Bikes[/caption]

At a crowded meeting Wednesday night at Boston City Hall, attendees packed into Room 801 to review the 25% design plans for the Connect Historic Boston bike trail and share their thoughts on the project.

One after another, citizens came up to the microphone to voice their support for the proposed network of cycle tracks around downtown Boston and the North End. A common theme expressed by many speakers was how this project would not just serve those who already ride bikes, but inspire new people to try riding for both transportation and recreation.

MassBike Executive Director David Watson spoke in favor of the project, saying, "Some people doubted Hubway when it was first launched, but it has quickly become part of the city's fabric faster than anyone imaged. So too will this project become a part of the fabric of Boston."

He added that, while he is generally in favor of the current design, he wanted to see particular attention paid to the intersection treatment and signal timing, and more consideration given to how commuter cyclists will enter and exit the cycle track on Causeway Street.

You can review detailed plans and meeting minutes from past public meetings on the project here.
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Save The Date: Massachusetts Bike/Walk Summit 2014

February 27, 2014

Mark your calendars! MassBike and WalkBoston are pleased to invite you to join bicycle and pedestrian advocates from across the Commonwealth at the 3rd Annual Bike/Walk Summit on April 3rd from 10 AM - 1 PM at the State House. Our speaker will be Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett from the Department of Public Health.

Please register here if you are planning to attend. The Bike/Walk Summit is free and open to the public.

This year's summit will have two main focus areas:

  • Mass in Motion: We will educate our legislators about Mass in Motion programs and other regional and local walking and biking efforts throughout Massachusetts. These programs demonstrate that state investment in active transportation pays off for communities. MassBike and WalkBoston have been working alongside Mass in Motion coordinators and we will be sharing best practices for use in other communities.

  • Legislation: We want individuals to ask their state senator and representative to report favorably to their chamber's chair on the Transportation Committee on our two bills: the Vulnerable Road Users (S 1639), and the Bike Lane Protection Bill (S 1640).

Our tentative day-of-event schedule is as follows:

10 AM Check-In at Nurses' Hall
10:30 AM Commissioner Bartlett Presentation on "Expanding opportunities for walking and bicycling in Massachusetts means more than transportation: The Mass in Motion Success Story"
11 AM Meetings with your Representatives and Letter Drop
12 PM Lunch and Networking at Nurses' Hall

Can't make it to Beacon Hill for a one-on-one meeting with your elected official? This year, we're adding a "Letter Drop," which will give participants an opportunity to contact their elected officials about biking and walking opportunities and issues via a hand delivered letter.

If you have any questions, please contact Nathaniel at nathaniel@massbike.org.
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Path And Complete Streets Funding Moves Forward In MA Senate

February 26, 2014
[caption id="attachment_21782" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Photo: Wikimedia Commons[/caption]

The Massachusetts Senate took an important step toward increasing funding for bicycle and pedestrian paths and other infrastructure this week. The transportation bond bill was reported out of the Senate bonding committee, and is now in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. It is scheduled for a vote by the full Senate next week, where it is expected to pass. MassBike led advocacy efforts that protected $377,255,000 for bicycle and pedestrians paths, and also played a significant role in ensuring $50 million for a Complete Streets certification and incentive program. The bill also provides for an additional $23 million in funding for other bike-related projects.

We thank the members of the Senate bonding committee, including Chairman Brian Joyce (D - Milton) and Senator Ken Donnelly (D - Arlington), for helping to ensure this funding has remained in the bill.

In total, this bill opens up roughly $398 million in bonding authority over the next five years specifically for biking (not including the $50M for Complete Streets), plus additional money for roads, bridges, and sidewalks which should include bicycle facilities where appropriate. Differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill will have to be resolved, but we do not expect changes to either the path or Complete Streets funding.

While this is a very exciting development, the bond bill is not real money yet. It creates a wishlist, and a cap, on how much the state can borrow for the items in the bill. So far, MassDOT has budgeted only $130 million for bike/ped paths over the next five years. While we appreciate MassDOT's significant financial commitment to biking and walking, the bond bill leaves open the possibility that they could do more, and we will continue to advocate for enough funding to truly meet our needs.

We have been working on this campaign for almost a year. Our work included testifying at multiple legislative hearings, sending letters of support, activating our new statewide advocacy network, and in-person meetings with key legislators. With the help and support of our members and partner organizations, we are close to securing significant funding for biking and walking for the next five years.

- David
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