Why Bicyclists Should Care About The T's Financial Crisis

MassBike exists to serve the bicycling community, and that is our focus. But we also take a broad view of our transportation system and how bicycling fits into it. To advance those efforts, in 2011 MassBike joined a new coalition of transportation-related organizations, Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA), working for an environmentally sustainable, reliable and affordable transportation system. MassBike's participation will strengthen the coalition's efforts around active and sustainable transportation, and the diverse viewpoints within T4MA will inform our own work for better bicycling.

The first major challenge faced by T4MA is the recently announced MBTA proposal to both increase fares and cut service. The MBTA projects that its revenues this year cannot support service at its current levels. T4MA opposes the proposal, and MassBike agrees that the MBTA's proposal would not be good for bicyclists. In our view, the T's proposal would significantly reduce existing opportunities for bicyclists to use bicycles in combination with public transportation, creating a barrier to biking.

You only need to look at the hundreds of bicycles parked at MBTA stations, even on frigid days like today, to see that many bicyclists are transit users and many people use bicycles to access the T. Some bicyclists, like other transit users, may simply be unable to afford a fare increase. Others will be affected if the trains, buses, or boats they rely on are eliminated. For example, we have analyzed the two bus service cut scenarios put forth by the T, the second of which would impact over 70% of bus routes that are currently equipped with bicycle racks. The MBTA has been a strong partner in improving bike access on its system, and MassBike has been working with them for many years to fully equip the bus fleet with bike racks. This project was expected to be completed this year, and the elimination of so many routes that are already accessible to bicyclists is an unacceptable leap backward.

Public meetings on the proposed fare increases and service cuts begin tonight in Newton and Worcester, tomorrow in Chelsea, and Thursday in Roxbury. More meetings continue in the following weeks all over the MBTA service region - see the calendar on our homepage for details. If you are a bicyclist whose mobility would be affected by MBTA fare increases or service cuts, please attend a public meeting or send your written comments to fareproposal@mbta.com. Make your voice heard! MassBike will continue to work with T4MA and the MBTA to find an acceptable way forward.

Spreading The Word About Complete Streets

MassDOT is offering trainings for local officials, transportation professionals and advocates around the state on how to design for "Complete Streets." Complete Streets is a design concept that emphasizes planning for all users of the road, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, motorists, and people with disabilities. Even though this would seem to be a straightforward idea, it is a radical departure from traditional transportation planning, and critical to building a better biking environment.

The Complete Streets Workshops kicked off in Worcester on November 17th and have taken place around the state since then. Executive Director David Watson and I have attended workshops, and are happy to see a high level of local interest in this important topic.

MassDOT's predecessor MassHighway adopted a Complete Streets-style approach to road design back in 2006 with the release of the Project Development and Design Guide. But many local officials and consultants have not changed their approach to road design in response to the new guidelines. At the urging of MassBike and other advocates, MassDOT has created this great new education program. We have been working with MassDOT to provide feedback both prior to the launch of the workshops and after the sessions we attended. We encourage anyone interested in learning more about Complete Streets and creating a more bikable, walkable, livable community to attend a free workshop.

Check here for the schedule, or just look at the calendar on our homepage. The workshops take three hours and are free and open to the public. You will get course materials to help you implement Complete Streets. Start making your community more livable by ensuring that roads work for everyone.

Free Winter Bike Workshop

Have you ever noticed those intrepid bicyclists out there on the roads 365 days a year, no matter how low the temperature or how high the snow? Maybe you see them and just think they're nuts, but many year-round bicyclists will tell you how much they love biking in the cold, citing the old truism, "There is no bad weather - just bad clothing."

Thanks to a partnership with the City of Newton, MassBike will be holding a free workshop to explain how to keep warm, dry, and comfortable if you choose to bike on some of the more daunting days.

The details:

Where: Newton City Hall, Room 222
1000 Commonwealth Ave.
Newton, MA

When: Thursday, 1/26, 7:00 - 8:00 PM

This workshop is free and open to the public. You can find out more information by clicking here, or emailing price@massbike.org. We hope to see you there, and out on the streets with amazing bike gear!

Take A Survey, Win A T-Shirt!

[caption id="attachment_6646" align="alignleft" width="130" caption="You could win this vintage t-shirt!"][/caption]

The other day we were talking about our priorities for 2012, and we realized that we couldn't really do this without knowing what our members think. That's why we developed a survey to find out our members' and stakeholders' thoughts on what we've been doing and what we should do in the future. Therefore, we need you to take our survey to let us know what you think!

In return for completing our survey, you could win a free MassBike T-shirt (vintage!). We'll be giving away 5 free T-shirts, so act now and start answering those questions here!

A New Face At MassBike

MassBike is pleased to present its new Membership and Office Coordinator, Austin Rand! Originally hailing from Groton, Austin left to attend college in one of the best bicycling communities in the country, University of Colorado at Boulder. During school and after graduation, Austin's interest in bikes blossomed. He got a lot of great experience working at a number of bicycle organizations, like BikeDenver, Denver B-cycle, and the Bikes Belong national peopleforbikes.org campaign.

We're thrilled to have him back in the Bay State, where he can use this experience to help grow our membership and increase community involvement, not to mention keeping the office working smoothly. When I asked what he was looking forward to now that he is back in his home state, Austin said “I have many fond memories of riding the winding roads in central Massachusetts and look forward to making more soon. I'm also excited to be living in Boston and can't wait to explore the city from behind my handlebars.”

At CU Boulder, Austin raced mountain bikes while pursuing his bachelor's degree in Environmental Resource Management. After graduating, he interned at Denver Bike Sharing, the operating non-profit for the Denver B-cycle system, and helped BikeDenver (the city's bike advocacy group) develop membership newsletters. Most recently, Austin traveled around the country managing a series of 40 national events to promote the peopleforbikes.org campaign.

He's only two weeks into his job and has hit the ground running! On his first day, he was dealing with a (very welcome) stack of donations, membership renewals, and new members that are still rolling in from the end-of-year appeal. Once he's done with that, he'll be helping to brainstorm on improving outreach efforts to expand and strengthen the bicycling community around the commonwealth. And as if that wasn't enough to keep him busy, he is also going to be managing the office to try to keep some semblance of order despite the flurry of advocacy, education and outreach activities going on daily.

Having another pair of hands, and especially one as experienced and competent as Austin's, is a huge help to the mission. Next time you're in the area, stop by the office and say ‘Hi!’ to our friendly new Membership and Office Coordinator.

Improving Dangerous Intersections In Underserved Communities

MassBike was recently invited by MassDOT to participate in a Road Safety Audit to help improve Morton Street in Mattapan. This is just one of many audits that take place around the state to improve our most dangerous intersections, and MassBike has been a strong supporter of this work.
Fixing this corridor is important, and the safety audit is a crucial first step to doing so. It is an important regional connection between Blue Hill Avenue and the Casey Overpass, which thousands of people use every day commuting from the South Shore to work at the Longwood Medical Area, Northeastern University, or other employers.
Unfortunately, Morton Street itself wasn't really built to handle that kind of traffic. It is lined with residential buildings, has poor signage, no bike lanes or other markings, and intersections that rank as the state's 185th and 37th most dangerous. Fortunately, there have been no reported car-bike crashes over the past three years, but that may be because few people are willing to bike on that street.
We are glad to be strong partners with MassDOT in their efforts to improve road safety for all users, especially in neighborhoods cut in half by major regional routes with heavy traffic. The day of the audit, there was a car cash involving an MBTA bus, providing a poignant backdrop to the activity. We look forward to our continued partnership with MassDOT as we work toward a common goal of a safer, healthier neighborhood.

MassBike Cape And Islands Update

Rob Miceli here writing from the Cape and Islands Chapter of MassBike, where we enjoyed another expansive year in 2011. The highlight of the year was the creation of "Getting To and Through Cape Cod", a guide to bicycle routes and public transportation. The map is the result of a collaboration between the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, local bikeways committees and MassBike. It shows bicycle routes throughout Cape Cod as well as individual maps of all 15 towns of Cape Cod. It was designed to show access to public transit and bicycle facilities and encourages use of either instead of using a car.

In March, MassBike held a bicycle social at Not Your Average Joes in Hyannis. Bicycle valet parking was available and a few guests showed up on 2 wheels despite poor weather. A wonderful social evening concluded with a raffle with prizes donated by MassBike and Harpoon Brewery.

The chapter is eagerly awaiting finalization of the new chapter charter and is anxious to begin plans for the upcoming season. We're looking forward to a stronger partnership with MassBike and new resources, like a MassBike tent for rainy events!

The chapter remains very active in local road projects’ design phases. The chapter is setting the goal of having destination signage installed from Falmouth to the transportation center in Hyannis as one of its top priorities for 2012. We're looking forward to another great year of biking!

Victory In The Senate!

Just two days ago we sent out an Action Alert asking you to contact Senator Kerry and urge him to support a pro-biking amendment in the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. We got a lot of notes from bicyclists who heeded our call, and it seems like it worked. Not only did Senator Kerry vote in favor of the amendment, but the Begich Amendment was passed with unanimous bipartisan support!

The amendment requires states to accommodate all users of the road on federally funded projects, also known as a "Complete Streets Policy." The only change to the amendment was at the request of Senator John Thune (R-SD), who wanted to ensure that the states could define what a Complete Street is. Given that state and local control over the definition of a Complete Street is a hallmark of the concept, this was accepted with no objections.

Unfortunately, there are many more steps before this amendment can become law. Two more Senate committees must pass the legislation, and then the Senate as a whole must vote to pass it. Then, the House of Representatives will need to reconcile the Senate version with their own. Fortunately, because this passed with bipartisan support, it stands a much better chance of surviving than more contentious amendments.

As always, we are working hard with our national partners to ensure that we get the best federal transportation bill for bicyclists. We will keep you updated as things unfold, and undoubtedly need more of your valuable support!

ACTION ALERT: Support Safer Biking On Roads And Bridges

This Wednesday, December 14th, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will consider an amendment to S. 1950 introduced by Senator Begich of Alaska. This amendment would require federally-funded surface transportation projects (like roads and bridges) to be designed for all users, including bicyclists and pedestrians. Many road and bridge projects are built with federal dollars, so this affects all of us! Our own Senator Kerry is on the Commerce Committee, so please contact him TODAY and let him know you support safer roads in Massachusetts and around the country.

We previously wrote about the bill under consideration, and our biggest concern is that it could mean up to a 30% cut in federal bike infrastructure funding. This amendment will ensure that roads and bridges are designed for the safety of all users, regardless of how much funding is available.

Please take action today:

1. Call and/or email Senator Kerry TODAY, tell him why bicycling is important to you, and ask him to SUPPORT Senator Begich's amendment to S. 1950 for safer roads.

Senator John Kerry: (202) 224-2742, Email (select “Transportation” as Topic)

Don’t have time to write your own email? Click here to send a pre-written email message.

2. Email action@massbike.org and let us know you contacted them!

Every single call or email matters, so please act today!

MassBike's Annual Meeting - Join Us December 19th!

The board and staff of MassBike cordially invite you to our Annual Meeting on Monday, December 19th, 2011, from 6:30-9:00pm, at Coogan’s, 171 Milk Street, Boston. (MassBike’s office is located in the same building.)

Starting at 6:30, the MassBike Board of Directors will hold a brief business meeting. The Annual Meeting itself will begin at 7:30. Executive Director David Watson and Program Manager Price Armstrong will report on MassBike’s 2011 accomplishments and preview our 2012 plans, followed by Q&A. We’ll conclude the evening with a relaxed socializing time for people to get to know their fellow bike advocates. Come meet the people making things happen for bicyclists in Massachusetts!

The event is free and open to the public, but donations are welcome. Not a member yet? Join at the event and save $5! You can RSVP to events@massbike.org so we can tell Coogan’s how many people to expect, but you can just show up too!

Light appetizers will be provided, and we will have drink and/or meal specials for those who want dinner.

Donate Join our Mailing List Volunteer
Accept Credit Cards