November Recap - A letter from Executive Director Richard Fries

MassBike, with the work of its chapters, its board, its members and its staff, continues to develop into a truly statewide coalition. With so much great work being done in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, MassBike recognizes how much needs to happen in suburbs and “Gateway Cities”. The next five years will see a massive expansion of rail trails, multi-use paths, protected bike lanes, greenways and intermodal connectivity.

Through our new affiliate program, we’re developing ties to large tourist clubs, trail groups and local bike advocacy groups to raise our voice and political impact statewide. We firmly believe that Massachusetts, more so than any other state, is poised to become the Netherlands of America.

Here’s a recap of the work we did in November:

  • We hosted a packed house for our eighth Middlesex Revelation presentation at the Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington. This presentation has also drawn the attention of Beacon Hill and other advocates.

  • We attended the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Trails Conference in Leominster, where we made key contacts with trails groups and state officials.  

  • We represented Massachusetts at the Western New England Greenways Conference in Bennington, Vt. The work being to establish a network of trails from Connecticut through Vermont is profound.

  • We presented to the Agawam Rotary about the emergence of trails and their economic impact to the area.

  • We provided bike valet service at the amazing Waltham Open Studios event.

  • Our Safe Routes to School team kept busy teaching classes in Newton, Wellesley and Cambridge.

  • We returned to provide even more lights to students at UMass-Amherst and Bunker Hill Community College as part of our Light Brigade program.

  • Our Pioneer Valley chapter held its annual meeting where they had presentations on Valley Bike Bike Share, the history of the PV chapter, the awarding of Valley advocate of the year (Craig Della Pena), voted on new board members, and had some travelers give presentations on bike trips they took. We also ate great food from the People’s Pint.

  • We worked with the Friends of the Northampton Greenways and Trails group to coordinate statewide outreach to expand their network.

  • With the rapid growth of bike share programs, we provided comment on the Metropolitan Area Planning Council request for proposals to develop a comprehensive bike share plan for a 16-community program.

  • MassBike presented a distilled version of its Middlesex Revelation presentation to the Massachusetts Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board at its November meeting in Lowell.

  • We also conducted an amazing tour of Lowell’s emerging Complete Streets programs. As the first community in the state to participate in Complete Streets, Lowell is well ahead of other Gateway Cities in making a walkable and bikeable community.   

This report has to finish with the World Day of Remembrance, which we helped to organize at the State House on November 19. Did you notice that the Zakim Bridge was lit yellow? The Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition convinced MassDOT to do that! This powerful event is part of a worldwide program to bring attention all the victims of roadway violence, be they motorists, pedestrians or cyclists. Despite light rain and cool winds, we joined our friends from the Boston Cyclists Union for a tour of several Boston ghost bikes and saw key intersections and corridors where advocates are driving change.  

After the services at the State House led by Rev. Laura Everett, numerous family members and friends of victims spoke on their respective tragedies. The reading of more than 60 names of Massachusetts pedestrians struck and killed by cars in the past year - too many of which were only listed as “unknown” - proved more chilling than the November wind.

And all of this ceremony played out amid the mechanized din of cars and buses and trucks on Beacon Street.

MassBike hosted a post-event retreat at our offices. There we outlined an initiative to pursue charges against the truck driver responsible for the 2015 death of Dr. Anita Kurmann.