Ask MassBike: Child Biking Lessons

We get a lot of questions here at MassBike, and we like to think we also give some pretty good answers. We realized that sharing these questions and answers on our website would be a valuable resource to others looking for the same information.

We got this question from Alison about where to get good bike lessons for her daughter.


I have a 7 year old girl who has still not learned to ride a bike. She is
a bit fearful. I am looking to hire someone to help her learn to ride. She
is a healthy, active kid but needs some help from someone other then her
parents. Do you know of anyone who can offer these kind of lessons? Any
advice is appreciated.

Kind regards,

Hi Alison,

In Somerville there is a place called the Bicycle Riding School. We have sent people there before and have heard great things about it. They have taught almost two thousand people, from ages three to eighty years old, how to ride a bike. I highly recomend that you check them out.

For more information on their programs go to Once your daughter has learned the mechanics of riding you can also check out our bike safety classes.

MassBike's New Volunteer Membership Program!

At MassBike, we love our volunteers.

We know that volunteers make up a huge part of our success, so we want to make volunteering with us even better. Starting now, anyone who volunteers ten hours of their time will automatically earn a MassBike membership!

We know that without the amazing support of our volunteers we would not be able to accomplish as much as we do. Our volunteers are our voice on the street, the energy behind our campaigns, and our strength in numbers. Because our volunteers do so much for us, we feel that they deserve to get something in return.

You may think that ten hours is too difficult to schedule into your calendar, but think about how fast those hours can fly by on a busy Saturday afternoon or when you are chatting to other bicyclists. If you work two and a half hours over four days then you already have enough hours for the membership. We've already given out five volunteer-memberships to some of our regulars at volunteer night.

And now with the bicycling season upon us, it's easy to get in those ten hours. Here are some volunteer events that are coming up soon:

On street petitioning:

Tuesday, April 6 - Massachusetts Ave. & Memorial Dr., Cambridge, MA, 5-6:30pm
Monday, April 12 - SW Corridor Park, near the Brewery, Jamaica Plain, MA, 5-6:30pm
Tuesday, April 20 - Massachusetts Ave. & Memorial Dr., Cambridge, MA, 5-6:30pm
Monday, April 26 - Downtown Boston Location - TBD, 5:00pm “ 6:30pm
Monday, May 3 - Broadway & Galileo Galilei Way, Cambridge, MA, 5:00pm “ 6:30pm

Volunteer night - Tuesday, April 13 - 171 Milk Street Boston MA 02109, 5-8pm

Transportation Fair - Wednesday, April 14 - Seyfarth Shaw, LLP, World Trade Center East building, 2 Seaport Boulevard, 3rd floor, 12-1:30pm

MIT Earth Day - Thursday, April 22 - Stata Centre MIT Cambridge, 11:15am “ 1:30pm

For more information about our upcoming events visit our volunteer calendar  Or email

I Am A Business Owner, And I Ride

Here is another great story from our And I Ride campaign. We are seeking to put a face on cycling in support of a legislative campaign that we are working on this year. You can read the rest of these great stories here.

We are still accepting entries, so be sure to read below to find out how to send in your story.

Our next story comes from Lauren.

Where I Ride: Everywhere and anywhere 
How Often I Ride: Daily

My Story:

I fell in love with cycling in my teens, cycling all over Southern NH on my Fuji Grand Tourer. By the time I reached college, I decided that cycling was "hub" and that my decisions as to what I would do with my life would revolve around cycling. I moved to Italy after college to study art, find my family's roots AND because I knew it was cycling heaven. Many miles and jobs later, I decided to start my own company that would allow me to do what I love all the time: travel by bicycle, be with people and create work that gave me freedom to do more of what I loved

20 years later, I live in Arlington and the bicycle culture continues to be the hub of my universe. As my son says, "I think & live bike". I have not only shared my love of cycling with over 8000 travelers from all over the world but I now try to inspire my children and all the people in my world to use the bicycle as a form of transportation. I am less concerned about miles than I was in my 20's and more interested in being as involved as I can in making the world a better place through cycling. I have ridden the Pan Mass Challenge for over 19 years, have led costumed peddlers on an annual Jingle Ride  Fundraiser, have increased awareness for cycling to school in Arlington and have gone to Washington, DC to the National Bike Summit to try to persuade our lawmakers to adopt better bicycle policies. I walk the talk by using my bicycle instead of a car whenever possible. My three kids and I ride everywhere.  I am continually searching for ways to more be more involved with organizations, like Mass Bike, that are trying very hard to make the world a better place through cycling. I believe in my heart that getting more people on bicycles will make our world a cleaner, healthier more human place. GO MASS BIKE!

Thanks Lauren!

We want to hear your story. Tell us about yourself and how bicycling is a part of your life. Just copy and paste the form below into an email, fill it in, and send it to

  • Name:

  • Email:

  • Where You Ride:

  • How Often You Ride:

  • Your Profession/Relation/Title (lawyer, nurse, Grandma, son, etc):

  • A picture of you on your bicycle, or you in your daily life (be sure we can see your face):

  • A paragraph or two about your life and your bicycle:

Bike Night Tickets On Sale Now!


MassBike's annual gala event will be on Saturday, May 15, 2010, from 7 to 10pm, at The Greatest Bar, 262 Friend Street, Boston map and directions. Leading into Bay State Bike Week (May 17-21), this is one cocktail party you will not want to miss! Featuring light hors d'oeuvres, cash bar, silent auction, bicycling advocacy awards, and more! Dress up, ride to the party, and show off your bike style! All proceeds benefit MassBike and help us do more work for you.


Click here for Regular Admission

Click here for VIP Package (help MassBike even more!)

MassBike Gives Up On Bicycles, Now The MassTrebuchet Coalition

It has been a good run, for the last 33 years MassBike has been fighting hard to make bicycling better for everyone in Massachusetts. We worked day and night to make sure that there were equitable bike laws, pushed for improved and expanded bike infrastructure, and strove to educate as many people as we could about bike safety, but now we have a new love. While bikes are still cool (we guess), we have found an entirely new and amazing way to get around.

The trebuchet!

For those of you who have yet to hear about this super sweet invention:
A trebuchet or trebucket (from the French: trébuchet) is a siege engine that was employed in the Middle Ages either to smash masonry walls or to throw projectiles over them. It is sometimes called a "counterweight trebuchet" or "counterpoise trebuchet" in order to distinguish it from an earlier weapon that has come to be called the "traction trebuchet", the original version with pulling men instead of a counterweight.

Isn't that music to your ears! I mean imagine the kind of untapped transportation power that is sitting around being wasted! This might be the most radical change in transportation policy since the invention of the speed bump! Why cycle when you can Trebuchet!

We have already set one up at our office and have gotten pretty good at hitting the inflated Trebuchet landing sites around downtown Boston (T-Stops for short). Don't worry, we used interns for most of the dialing-in process.

[caption id="attachment_1422" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="You've got to wait 'til the wind is just right...."][/caption]

Sure, biking is fun, practical, cheap, good for the environment, healthy and fast. But nothing compares the the thrill of launching yourself through the air at high speeds aiming for a tiny little inflated target hundreds of feet away!

Here is David Watson, our executive director, announcing our plan to set up launching stations all over the state:

[caption id="attachment_1441" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="These highly trained trebuchet technicians support us."][/caption]
Biking was just too easy. Sure, you could get around town quickly and parking was a breeze. And, yes, it was a healthy, cheap, and easy way to get to work, but we wanted a challenge. The thrill of flying hundreds of feet through the air at hundreds of miles per hour with a 50/50 chance of hitting your target really gets the blood pumping.

MassBikeTrebuchet Coalition will be spending all of its time and efforts setting up giant wooden siege engines throughout the state and installing large inflated landing pads near them. Be sure to check our calendar for upcoming trebuchet flying safety courses, and check our flight listings for our upcoming "MassTrebuchet Flies" flights.

Be sure to check out our store to get your own safety aviators helmet (pictured below).

We welcome comments on our new direction.  We are really excited about our new program and hope to see you all out at the trebuchet launching sites!

P.S. What do you think of our new tag line: "MassTrebuchet Coalition: Making flying through the air screaming for your life better for everyone!"

I Am A Photographer, And I Ride

We've got another profile of a bicyclist from our And I Ride campaign. We are seeking to put a face on cycling in support of the legislative campaign that we are working on this year. You can read the rest of these great stories here.

We are still accepting entries, so be sure to read below to find out how to send in your story.

Our next story comes from Danny.

Where You Ride: Everywhere; trails, offroad, roads, other states.
How Often You Ride: Daily
My Story:

I am an outdoor enthusiast. I kayak, rock climb, fish, hike, bike, adventure race, camp; almost anything that deals with being outdoors, I do it. I'm also an Urban and Regional planning student at the University of Central Florida. I have 2 daughters, both who love to bike. The eldest is pictured below with her bike.

Together, we all ride to and from school, Publix, coffee shops, and events going on around town. Alone, I am a commuter that bikes roughly 15 miles one way to class, meetings, or to see friends and enjoy a local coffee/tea shop. And to my delight, any time we tell the kids we're going somewhere, the first question they ask is: "are we taking the bikes?"

Thanks Danny! "Are we taking the bikes?" is music to our ears.

We want to hear your story. Tell us about yourself and how bicycling is a part of your life. Just copy and paste the form below into an email, fill it in, and send it to

  • Name:

  • Email:

  • Where You Ride:

  • How Often You Ride:

  • Your Profession/Relation/Title (lawyer, nurse, Grandma, son, etc):

  • A picture of you on your bicycle, or you in your daily life (be sure we can see your face):

  • A paragraph or two about your life and your bicycle:

Minuteman Bikeway Partially Closed For Repairs

The Town of Arlington reports the following: On Monday, March 29, a portion of the Minuteman Bike Path in Arlington will be closed to the public. This closure will allow for Public Works to safely repair the path caused by recent storm damage. The closure will be from Hurd Field (behind Trader Joe's) to Ryder Street (by Veterans' Memorial Skating Rink). Detours will be set up to direct travelers to Mass. Ave. Exit/Entrance points will be at Drake Road (Hurd Field) and Ryder Street, off Forest St (by rink). It is estimated this area of the path will be closed for a week.

Bicyclists Take DC! MassBike Fights For Cycling And You Can Help!

This year's National Bike Summit marked a milestone. Not only was this the 10th summit, with over 700 advocates from around the country, but we saw an unprecedented level of commitment to bicycling from both Congress and the Administration. Senators and Representatives in Congress are actively supporting pro-bicycling legislation (see details below). Rather than the cordial but noncommittal reception we usually get in our Congressional meetings, we were greeted with enthusiasm and outright support (as evidenced by the number of MA co-sponsors on the legislation below). And to top it off, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood chose the occasion to announce sweeping changes to federal policy to support biking and walking.  (Oh, and Google unveiled their awesome new Google Maps Biking Directions!)

[caption id="attachment_1387" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="MA takes the Hill: (standing) David Watson, Dorothy Nichols, Don Podolski, John Siemiatkoski, Tom Henry, Mark Vautour, Jack Johnson, Andrew Conway, Lauren Hefferon; (kneeling) Richard Fries, Nancy Maier; (not pictured) Phil Goff, Andrew Prescott, Chris Zigmont"][/caption]

MassBike once again took the lead for Massachusetts at the Summit. In the weeks leading up to the Summit, we worked hard to set up meetings with all 12 Congressional offices (10 Representatives and 2 Senators), getting the last two nailed down after we were already on the ground in DC! MassBike has a reputation for being super-organized for our Capitol Hill meetings, and this year was no exception - we prepared materials specific to each Congressional district (read them here under the 2010 heading) and fine tuned our "sales pitch."

Not all the news was good, though. The big debate over transportation funding for the next six years is stalled, and the word on Capitol Hill is that it will not happen this year. Why is this a problem? Every six years, Congress decides how to fund all transportation projects for the next six years by passing a huge surface transportation authorization bill, to build things like roads, bridges, bike paths, rail trails, Complete Streets, and more. The previous authorization expired last fall, and Congress has passed a series of short extensions so that projects don't run out of money.

MassBike feels that we still need to build support for the programs we think are important, so that when the debate resumes, we've got Representatives and Senators on-board ready to fight to roll those programs into the transportation bill. Here are the programs we focused our lobbying on at this year's Summit:

  • H.R. 4722, The Active Community Transportation Act. Creates a competitive funding program for communities to build active transportation networks to get more people biking and walking. This means more bike paths and bike lanes that connect to each other and to the places people actually need to go. Bicycling champion Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon recently introduced this exciting new bill, joined by our own Massachusetts Rep. Michael Capuano (8th District) as an original sponsor. Your virtual lobbying for this bill on March 11th had a direct impact: Rep. Edward Markey (7th District) and Rep. James McGovern (3rd District) signed on as co-sponsors, making Massachusetts the state with the highest percentage of representatives supporting the bill!

  • H.R. 1443/S. 584, The Complete Streets Act. Requires state and local transportation agencies to adopt "Complete Streets" policies to ensure all road users are included in the design of transportation facilities funded with federal dollars. Massachusetts is already most of the way there, as our 1996 Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Law, 2006 Project Development and Design Guide, and 2009 Transportation Reform Act include many elements of Complete Streets. Rep. Niki Tsongas (5th District) is a co-sponsor.

  • S. 1156, The Safe Routes To School Program Reauthorization Act. Increases SRTS funding to $600 million annually (a 600% increase). SRTS has already funded biking and walking initiatives at hundreds of MA schools, including more than 35 schools and over 4000 kids who received MassBike's safety training, infrastructure assessments at 35 schools and actual infrastructure improvements for a few. In addition to a big increase in funding, this bill would extend the program to high schools. In the lower grades, we try to get more kids biking and walking to school, but high school is the first time when students can actually make their own transportation choices, choices that could stick with them as they enter adulthood.

  • H.R. 4021, The Safe Routes To High Schools Act. House version of bill to extend SRTS funding eligibility to high schools.

  • H.R. 3734, The Urban Revitalization And Livable Communities Act. Authorize $445 million annually for development and revitalization of urban parks and community recreation infrastructure. We usually approach bicycling from a transportation perspective, because that is traditionally where the money is.  Urban parks provide proven economic and health benefits. This exciting new bill would not only fund improvements for better biking and walking in parks, but would support building connections so that people can bike or walk from their neighborhoods to the park, and from one park to another, creating new opportunities to exercise and get around by bike. Our Massachusetts Representatives agree that this is a great idea: Rep. James McGovern (3rd District)l Rep. Niki Tsongas (5th District), Rep. Michael Capuano (8th District), and Rep. Stephen Lynch (9th District) are all co-sponsors of this bill!

  • S. 2747, The Land And Water Reauthorization Act. Dedicates $900 million annually to fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is used for the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities. The LWCF has been around since the 1960s, but has been fully funded only once in all that time. Despite chronic underfunding, the LWCF has provided more than $3.6 billion dollars to over 40,000 projects over the years.

And then came Secretary LaHood's big surprise, announced from atop a table at the closing reception of the Summit.

It is now official federal policy that bicycling and walking are equal to other forms of transportation. The key points of the new policy include:

  • Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.

  • Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.

  • Go beyond minimum design standards.

  • Collect data on walking and biking trips.

  • Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.

  • Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)

  • Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.

We were in the room when Secretary LaHood made this historic announcement, and it capped off a really good day. Congress and the Obama Administration have opened the door wider than ever for bicycling, and MassBike is leading the charge to bring those federal dollars and policies home to Massachusetts.

You can help us do even more by making some calls to Congress:

1. If your Representative is already co-sponsoring one of the House ("H.R.") bills listed above, call their office and say "thanks". Don't forget to give the specific bill number and name.

2. If your Representative is not yet co-sponsoring all the House bills listed above, call their office and ask that they sponsor those bills. Again, be sure to give them the specific bill numbers and names.

3. Neither of our Senators are currently co-sponsoring any of the Senate ("S.") bills listed above, so please call both their offices and ask them to do so.

Not sure who your Congressional Representative is or need contact information? Click here and enter your address. Then click on their names for contact information.

There's one more way you can help to bring bicycling money to Massachusetts. Add your voice to the thousands of bicyclists already speaking up by joining MassBike today!

[caption id="attachment_1396" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Three-time U.S. National Cyclocross Champion (and Beverly resident) Tim Johnson reps MA!"][/caption]

Ask MassBike: Pedestrian/Bicyclists Crash In Bike Lane, Legal Options?

We get a lot of questions here at MassBike, and we like to think we also give some pretty good answers. We realized that sharing these questions and answers on our website would be a valuable resource to others looking for the same information.

We got this question from Jim about a crash in a bike lane. While we do our best, we are not lawyers, and the following shouldn't be taken as legal advice, in fact we recommend you talk to a real lawyer, Andrew Fischer is a good one in the Boston Area

Good afternoon,
I was cycling westbound in a bike lane and an inattentive runner entered the bike lane causing me to crash into him. I called the police and filed a report, yet the responding officer stated there are no laws stating people cannot run in the bike lane. There was significant damage to my bike (thankfully both of us are ok physically),though without any law stating the runner was at fault being in the bike lane (which he is arguing), I would essentially have to take this individual to court to get compensation for damages instead of going through insurance or having the police cite him etc. Was hoping you might have some info on this?

Thank you,

Well Jim first let me say I am glad both of you are alright. We asked around to Walk Boston, and some other people and were unable to find out much more about this but we did dig up the following.

I don't think there is a state law that specifically prohibits pedestrians from walking (or running) in the roadway, although most people prefer to walk on the sidewalk for obvious reasons.

State law defines a bike lane in MGL chapter 90E, section 1:
Bike lane, a lane on a street restricted to bicycles and so designated by means of painted lines, pavement coloring or other appropriate markings.

This implies that only bicycles are supposed to be in bike lanes. But I think it is really left to local ordinances. For example, Boston passed an ordinance last fall that prohibits parking in bike lanes.

It may be that the only recourse here is a civil lawsuit. Anyone entering a roadway, regardless of whether they are driving, biking, or on foot, has a duty to exercise reasonable care, and a failure to do so that causes damage or injury to someone else is negligence.

Again I would say that we are not lawyers, and that you should contact one. We hope that this information helps and that you are back out on your bike soon.

MassBike Helps To Bring Bicycling To Arlington Schools

Edit: Hey we made the globe, good to see so many others that support cycling to school.

Last year, a group of Arlington parents, with MassBike's assistance, successfully campaigned the Arlington School Committee and the principal of the Hardy Elementary School to start a pilot bike-to-school program at the school. (Elementary schools in Arlington do not generally allow children to ride bikes to school. The Hardy School, chosen for the pilot, is less than one block from the Minuteman Bikeway.)

School officials, despite safety concerns and skepticism that the program would work, agreed to the pilot, although kids were not permitted to park their bikes on schools grounds. MassBike provided bike safety training to the entire 4th and 5th grades (courtesy of MassDOT's Safe Routes to School Program), and the parents organized a series of activities to encourage parents to bike to school with their kids. The pilot was a success, more kids biked to school and there were no safety problems.

Fast forward a year, and skepticism has been replaced with enthusiasm. The principal of the Hardy School is excited to continue the program. And she has asked for help getting bike racks for the school, not just for the kids but for staff too! Perhaps more importantly, she is telling the other principals and school officials about the success of the program at Hardy! MassBike looks forward to working with the rest of the schools in Arlington to bring the joys of cycling to students throughout the town.

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