You may remember our summer intern Dina Gorelik, a rising senior at Newton North High School (you can read her first MassBike blog post here!). She is the founder and officer of the Newton North Bike Club and we're pleased to bring you another blog post that she has written:
After participating in a bike tour two summers ago, I became enthralled with the idea of biking. My bike fulfilled my teenage desire for independence and freedom. I began biking to school year round and realized the personal benefits of biking and the stark lack of bicycle infrastructure in Newton. In response, I started a bike club. I hoped to get more students involved with and educated about biking. I also wanted to advocate for safer bike infrastructure, so I connected with Bike Newton, our local advocacy group.
In the fall of 2018, Newton North Bike Club partnered with Bike Newton to create two bike inspired murals on a street near Newton North. Two former parking spots, now no parking spots because of high pedestrian traffic in the area, became our canvas. As I have no artistic side, I enlisted my friend Maggie to design the two murals. Once we recruited enough painters, we spent a total of nine hours, spread over three days, painting, getting paint on ourselves, and more painting. People from nearby stores and simply people passing by stopped and talked with us, interested regardless of view on bikes and bikers. Several days after we finished painting, the City of Newton installed a bike rack there! The rack is always used, which makes me genuinely happy to know that Bike Club’s work makes a difference.
Our next major project was an anti-dooring campaign. In October of 2018, a man biking along Walnut Street was doored by a Newton North student being dropped off for school. Because of the rush to get to school and the morning congestion, students often exit their vehicle before the official drop off zone. On Walnut Street, that means opening the passenger door directly into the bike lane. After a meeting with MassBike discussing the “Dutch Reach,” Bike Club designed some laughably terrible posters that would hopefully attract people’s attention. The posters were intended to have students and teachers begin to think about their roles as drivers and passengers, not a foolproof way to end dooring. We posted them around the school and began the campaign. Bike Club did not receive any immediate responses on the posters, but as I began talking to others about the posters and the Dutch Reach, positive responses began coming in. Some simply thought the posters themselves were hilarious, but several students drivers told me that they actually check for bikers before exiting their car. The anti-dooring campaign reached its peak, however, when during the Newton North improv show, the cast took audience suggestions for “the strangest sentences you can come up with.” Someone suggested, “Don’t turn bikers into a quiche, do the Dutch Reach!” which was one of our slogans.
Next year, I hope to expand Bike Club’s role as advocates for safer streets in Newton. As surrounding towns begin to expand their bikeability, it is important for Newton to keep up to ensure that bike lane networks can develop.
Take a look at the posters below created by Dina and the Newton North Bike Club: