Longfellow Bridge Construction: Progress, But Questions Remain

MassDOT recently held a public meeting with the firm selected to perform the reconstruction of the Longfellow Bridge, scheduled to start in earnest later this year and continue until 2016. Click here to see the April 9th meeting presentation.

Originally, MassDOT intended to detour all Cambridge-bound motor vehicle and bicycle traffic for the duration of the project, but MassBike and other advocates made a strong case to maintain two-way bicycle travel. For people riding just a few miles under their own power, a detour of a mile or more would discourage people from bicycling, at a time when we should be doing everything possible to shift people from driving to other biking, walking, or transit.

Thankfully, MassDOT listened, and the plan now is to maintain two-way bicycle travel, throughout construction - even though car traffic to Cambridge will be detoured the entire time! Construction will occur in several phases to permit work on different parts of the bridge, and during each phase the lane configuration will shift positions. Most of the time, bicyclists will enjoy dedicated bike lanes, though sometimes will share sidewalk space with pedestrians. We understand the very tight space constraints during construction, and we thank MassDOT for doing the best they can for bicyclists.

We are concerned, however, with the connections to local roadways and the Charles River paths on both sides of the river, both during and after construction. No plans have been shown for how those connections will work, especially as the lane configuration on the bridge shifts from side to side. These connections, especially in Charles Circle on the Boston side, and to the paths on the Cambridge side, are already challenging without the added complexity of construction. The project engineers do not seem to have a plan for involving advocates in these all-important designs, which could compromise bicyclist and pedestrian (and motorist) safety. Click here to see MassBike's formal comment letter to MassDOT.

We hope (and have requested) that MassDOT will continue the collaborative effort that led to the current design for the bridge as the designs for these critical connections move forward.

Though it was not the focus of this hearing, it should be noted that bicycle and pedestrian advocates, including MassBike, continue to encourage MassDOT to rethink the Boston-bound side of the bridge to better provide for future bicyclist and pedestrian needs.

Beacon Hill Update

[caption id="attachment_20817" align="alignleft" width="300"] Mayor Lisa Wong at the Bike/Walk Summit[/caption]On Thursday, April 11th, 50 bicycle and pedestrian advocates joined MassBike and WalkBoston for the Massachusetts Bike/Walk Summit. We heard Wendy Landman of WalkBoston, David Watson of MassBike, and Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong discuss why encouraging biking and walking in our communities is such a pressing issue. And, most importantly, local advocates met with their legislators and their staff members to urge them to adequately fund active transportation and to increase our legal protections.

The Summit could not have come at a better time. On Saturday, April 13th (two days after the event), the Senate debated and then voted on a five-year, $800 million per year transportation package. This is much more than the $500 million bill passed by the House, which Governor Deval Patrick has threatened to veto since it falls so far short of his ten-year, $1.2 billion per year plan.

Transportation for Massachusetts, a coalition of organizations including MassBike and WalkBoston, released a statement on the Senate's transportation bill. Here is an excerpt:
As passed, the bill makes progress by closing yearly budget shortfalls and begins to address our significant maintenance backlog. However, it does not provide sufficient funding to move our transportation system into the 21st century. The bill’s revenue projections are too optimistic and the total funds insufficient.

Because two different versions of the bill were passed by the separate chambers, they will now go to a conference committee. The differences will have to be worked out, and MassBike is hopeful that the end result will do two things:

  • Restore dedicated funding for shared-use paths, and ensure that biking and walking are included in everyday road and bridge projects.

  • Maintain, or ideally increase, the Senate's bottom line funding for transportation - though the latter seems unlikely.

Finally, we asked Summit attendees to ask their legislators to support specific pieces of bike/pedestrian safety legislation, which you can find here. Because the Legislature's focus so far this session has been on funding, the first public hearings for these bills have not yet been scheduled. We'll let you know just as soon as that happens.

As always, we are going to count on your support to call up your legislators and tell them that these issues matter. We will be issuing action alerts as the need arises so that the needs of bicyclists don't get lost in the broader legislative conversation. Thanks as always, we couldn't do it without you.

Welcome Our New Events And Outreach Manager

Please welcome aboard our newest team member to MassBike, Kyle Butler. Kyle has taken the role of Events and Outreach Manager, and has already dived deep into the work of getting the details perfect for Bike Night, the Summer Century, and the Berkshires to Boston Tour. In case you haven't noticed, MassBike has a lot going on this summer, and Kyle is going to ensure that these events are going to be super-fun celebrations on two wheels.

Switching gears from working in pediatric orthopedics, Kyle brings what was for him an activity in his spare time to a full-time career. He was first bitten by the cycling bug in college when he joined the Northeastern University Cycling Club. From there he helped to create Boston’s elite cycling team, Green Line Velo. Running weekly Wednesday night social group rides, hosting bicycle repair clinics, and organizing the Purgatory Road Race (which hosts the Massachusetts Road Race State Championship) have built the foundation for Kyle to take MassBike events to the next level.

Though you’ve most likely seen him driving a pedicab, leading a Bike Friday convoy or managing the course marshals at the TD Bank Mayor’s Cup Professional Criterium, Kyle is looking forward to putting his passion and skills into managing these upcoming MassBike events. Bike Night is our first big event coming up on June 7th! Be sure to chat him up while enjoying your cocktail and admiring the velo-couture.

Submit Your Bay State Bike Week Event ASAP

The month of May - Bike Month - is almost here. That means that Bay State Bike Week is just around the corner. We've already started getting events submitted for the upcoming week of bicycle celebrations (May 11-19). There is a Bike to School Day on the Cape, a Bike Rodeo in the Pioneer Valley, and a Bike Film Festival in Metro Boston, and the MassCommute Bicycle Challenge, to name only a few events.

Now is the time to submit your event to the calendar.

During the week of May 11-19, people across the state will be searching for events in their community or region - this calendar connects them up with your great event! Plus, registering your event for Bay State Bike Week also does the following:

  • Makes your event eligible for Bay State Bike Week swag, such as t-shirts and reflective ankle straps.

  • Provides branding materials for promotion of the event.

  • Gives event attendees a chance to win great prizes in a drawing!

If you have already registered your event, but want to request materials for Bay State Bike Week, check out this page here. If you have any questions about submitting an event to the calendar, requesting materials, or anything else, please do not hesitate to email BayStateBikeWeek@MassBike.org.

Finally, if you haven't yet planned an event but are interested in doing so, it's not too late! There is still plenty of time to put together a bike ride, bike breakfast, or other event for your community. We have included both weekends to allow for more recreational events, and not just work commuting. Check out our Event Planning Resources for more information on how to plan an event.

Cycle The WAVE Massachusetts Is Coming To Ashland

Women and girls of all ages and abilities
are invited to join this non-competitive cycling event.

On Sunday, June 23, 2013, the first East Coast event, Cycle the WAVE Massachusetts, will start and end at historic Marathon Park, Pleasant St., Ashland. All proceeds will benefit the local non-profit, Web of Benefit, Inc. This cycling event is an all-women, non-competitive ride, not a race, and there is no fundraising requirement. Women riders of all ages and abilities can sign up for the “Little Sister” (about 25 miles), or the “Big Sister” (about 50 miles). Beginning at the original Boston Marathon starting line, and winding through several beautiful MetroWest towns, the cycling event will include surprises and treats along the way, and a celebration party at the end.

All proceeds from this event will go directly to its proud sponsor, Web of Benefit. Web of Benefit promotes liberation from domestic violence and has given more than 1,100 Self-Sufficiency Grants to women in the Greater Boston and MetroWest area. Each woman “pays it forward” by performing good works for other women impacted by domestic violence.

To learn more, or to register, sponsor, donate, or volunteer (men welcome), visit ma.cyclethewave.org. Questions? Contact Deborah Maini: 781-974-4559 or info@ma.cyclethewave.org.

The Prouty Ultimate: Two-Days, 200 Miles In NH & VT To Fight Cancer!

You’re going to love this ride! Two days of unforgettable cycling (July 12-13, 2013) along New Hampshire and Vermont roads, by pristine lakes and rivers, and through picturesque New England villages with stunning views of the White Mountains. The Prouty is already established as one of the finest century rides in New England, a result of 31 years of paying attention to the details: frequent SAG stops, strong road support, great food, and unparalleled camaraderie. The Prouty Ultimate is an extension of that tradition, with an epic 100 miles from Manchester to Hanover, N.H., added the day before joining The Prouty classic century. The Ultimate is limited to 150 cyclists, ensuring we’ll deliver a quality, fully supported ride.

Join the Ultimate fight against cancer and support research at Dartmouth’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center – one of just 41 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the country and one of just nine Centers of Nanotechnology Excellence. The Prouty Ultimate fundraising minimum is $2,500 (or $1,850 each if you sign up with a friend).





Prouty Ultimate Perks include:

● Exclusive group dinner at the St. Anselm College event HQ, July 11th

● Pre-ride bike inspection

● Strong route support with a police escort start, a total of 12 SAG stops (some with live music), two water stops, and roving support bikes / vans

● Complimentary massage at the end of each day’s ride

● Special cocktail reception at the Canoe Club restaurant in Hanover on Friday

● ProutyGear points to “spend” on great Prouty-branded cycling apparel or other Prouty items (earn 1 point for every $500 raised)

● Amazing door prizes – all Ultimates entered into a drawing for two chances to win a bike (one from Drummond Custom Cycles,  another from The Bike Hub).

● Overnight stay at the McLane Hall Dartmouth dormitory on Friday

● All-day Prouty Party July 13th from 6:30am-5pm (at the Richmond Middle School event site) with tons of food, live entertainment, the NCCC Discovery Tent and more!

● Transportation from Hanover to Manchester on 7/11, back to Manchester on 7/13

To learn more, watch our Prouty Ultimate video (https://vimeo.com/57085364), visit www.theproutyultimate.org and contact us with any questions: info@theprouty.org or 800-226-8744.

MassBike's New Program Associate

We are proud to introduce our new Program Associate, Shawn Musgrave! Shawn will be coordinating the Education Program and helping out with communications, so you can count on seeing him on the blog and in the classroom.

A recent graduate of Boston University, Shawn is deeply committed to bicycling for recreation and transportation. One of Shawn's current projects includes a travel guide to the Boston area by bike, requiring extensive research (riding around). Shawn has good experience to draw from, since he was a pedi-cabber prior to joining the staff at MassBike.

Shawn is also an improv comedian, doing past work with Improv Boston. This is great experience for his current role. Half the battle when teaching bicycle education classes is keeping the students engaged. Children and adults alike are going to be in for a real treat when Shawn is the class instructor.

Finally, you might be seeing Shawn's name in other venues as well. He is an active freelance journalist, and just yesterday had a story published on the front page of the Boston Globe! Basically, we're really lucky to have him in the MassBike office. Be sure to welcome him as you see him in the classroom or at tabling events in the coming months.

ACTION ALERT: Critical Moment On Beacon Hill

Monday, the Massachusetts House passed a dramatically scaled-back transportation finance plan - only about 50% of the amount multiple independent analyses have concluded is necessary to maintain our crumbling transportation system and invest in much-needed expansion projects. You can find out more information about the debate here.

MassBike is very concerned about the Legislature's plan to fund transportation. A major issue is that, unlike the Governor's Transportation Plan, the Legislature's alternative does not dedicate any funding to biking and walking. Further, it would require large increases in transit fares and tolls, while abandoning capital projects such as the Green Line extension, South Coast rail and South Station expansion - all critical to economic development and new jobs. And it would forfeit federal funds available to pay for much of these projects. Instead of investing in the future of Massachusetts transportation, the Legislature's proposal will cost us all more without any discernible improvement in our infrastructure.

Tomorrow is a big day for biking and walking. The Bike/Walk Summit is taking place, and we are asking local advocates come to the State House to educate their legislators about our six pieces of legislation (see below). But perhaps even more urgently, the Senate is going to be debating and possibly voting on the transportation finance bill. We need you to call your legislators at this critical point TODAY.

1. Please call/email and ask your state Senator:

  • Will you support adequate transportation funding, which at a minimum is $800 - $900 million annually?

2. Please call/email and ask both your Senator and Representative:

  • Will you support the following bills to improve road safety for all users?

    • Senior Safety Zones Bill, HB 550 - Establishes reduced speed limit zones in areas with larger elderly populations;

    • Vulnerable Road Users Bill, SB 1639 - Adds protections from being struck by a motor vehicle to bicyclists, pedestrians, and other vulnerable users of the road;

    • Active Streets and Healthy Communities Bill, SB 68 / HB 3091 - Creates a certification process for "Active Streets Communities," which would provide eligibility for certain kinds of funding;

    • Bike Lane Protection Bill, SB 1640 - Prohibits parking motor vehicles in bike lanes;

    • Snow Removal Bill, HB 1570 - Incentivizes snow removal from sidewalks;

    • Speed Limits Bill, HB 3129 - Reduces the prevailing speed limits on most local roads to 25 mph.

3. Email Action@MassBike.org to let us know how it went.

Don't know who your legislators are or how to contact them? Find out here.

Email is OK, but phone calls are preferred. Again, this is a critical point in the transportation conversation. We are hoping to put pressure on the Senate to pass a larger transportation bill, which will give us an opportunity later on to re-establish dedicated funding for biking and walking when the House and Senate reconcile the two versions of the legislation. As always, it is only with your help that we are going to be able to make progress on this. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to call the office at (617) 542-2453 or email Advocacy@Massbike.org.

Bring MassBike to Your Kids' School!

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 communities around the state.

With April vacation upon us, MassBike already has bike safety classes scheduled at multiple elementary and middle schools around Massachusetts. With your help, our expert instructors could reach even more children (including yours!) on the importance of bicycle maintenance, helmet use and road safety.

The MassBike Safe Routes to School curriculum reviews basic maintenance (Air, Brakes, Chain & Quick Release), rules of the road, proper helmet fitting and nighttime visibility. Our instructors tailor the message to age-level to ensure that these critical safety lessons are most appropriate, effective and empowering.

The classes are funded through the state's Safe Routes to School Program, thus free to the participating schools. To receive these courses, talk to your school’s principal, P.E. teacher or another employee and let them know you would like MassBike to lead these classes.  To schedule a class, send an email to Education@MassBike.org and we can get the ball rolling.

More about Safe Routes to School

MassBike is able to offer these youth safety classes through the state’s Safe Routes to School Program.  Safe Routes to School is a federally-funded initiative which promotes healthy transportation alternatives for trips to and from school.  The program aims to foster a mobile and active lifestyle and to reduce traffic congestion and improve public health by encouraging the use of alternative transportation. MassBike has been teaching through the Safe Routes to School Program since 2009.

Cycle Into History On The South Shore

The Board of Directors of the 1699 Historic Issac Winslow House of Marshfield are pleased to announce the kickoff fundraiser for 2013: The Historic Winslow Sprint on Sunday, May 5, 2013.

Join them (rain or shine) for a great day of bicycle touring in Marshfield, Scituate, and Duxbury. This 43.5 mile tour will follow along the salt water marshes, beaches, historic districts and, most likely, a few cranberry bogs in three beautiful South Shore towns.

The $200 registration fee includes a Vomax Cycling Jersey, cinch sak, water bottle, and entry to the LOBSTER BOIL after party with complimentary libations. Family and friends are invited to the after party, $30 for a ticket (children eat free, cash bar). This year's featured musical guest is local musician, singer, songwriter Peter Mundt!

The Winslow Sprint is a fundraiser that supports the ongoing efforts of preservation and operations for the the Issac Winslow House of Marshfield, MA. The house is a 501 3 (C) non-profit organization, and the flat rate donation to participate in the Tour is tax deductible.

Join us for a fun way to get out and enjoy spring, and represent a cornerstone of the history of Marshfield, and South Shore! Please register at: www.winslowhouse.org

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