I often refer to Massachusetts as the World’s Largest College Town, and in September we got a strong reminder of that. The entire Bay State just buzzes with students on bikes from Boston and Cambridge, to Northampton and Amherst - be they wobbly freshmen or established post-docs - going to and fro.
We often state that the number one thing a person can get to make a bike ride safer is not a helmet, bell, light or mirror. What makes a bike rider safer is another bike rider.
But while these large numbers of cyclists make our cities safer, the rural and suburban roadways have become a new focus of our work at MassBike.
Sadly we suffered yet another loss in September. John Paire, a beloved educator in the Dudley Charlton School District, was struck and killed while commuting home from his work as a middle school teacher. He had served as the same school’s principal for a period, overseeing two talented young bike racers, Lizzie and Greg Gunsalus. He would pull them aside, check on their results, accommodate their academics with their sport’s demands, and just talk about bikes. He loved bikes. He was struck and killed on Friday, Sept. 15, while trying to cross Route 20. Ironically, the driver involved also taught in the same school district.
We also worked on the re-dedication of the ghost bike for Bernard “Joe” Lavins and also the first North Shore ghost bike for Dan Pimenta, a Peabody firefighter struck and killed in Beverly. Although sad emblems, we believe ghost bikes serve as poignant disruptions to the roadway culture that tolerates so many injuries and deaths on American roads.
Here are some of the highlights of our work and more from the month of September:
- Youth education! We hosted a bike rodeo in Eastham on Cape Cod, a full day of work at every grade of the Clarksburg Elementary School in the Berkshires, and the Fitzgerald School in Waltham.
- Provided bike valet service at Fenway Park, the Builders’ Ball in Boston, the Ride for Food, and the final Newbury Street car-free Sunday on Sept. 10. And our Pioneer Valley folks did a great job parking bikes at the MillPond Live Concert Series in Easthampton.
- We closely monitored the Road Safety Audit of Beacham Street in Chelsea and Everett, a critical - if not horrific - corridor that provides the lone corridor for a Boston-bound cyclist from four communities: Revere, Winthrop, Chelsea and East Boston.
- We worked with our friends as the Boston Cyclists Union to develop a truck safety video.
- Our team also worked with the Lower Mystic Valley Working Group at their presentation at Assembly Row; East Somerville, Medford, Chelsea, Charlestown and Everett will be crucial to uncorking the North Shore bottle of demand for cyclists seeking a route into and out of Boston.
- We visited Worcester for the launch of Ofo, the dockless bike share system. (Stay tuned as Revere is going to offer it next!)
- We attended MassDOT’s Moving Together conference on Sept. 28, where public and private stakeholders rally around 21st Century transportation initiatives.
- The MassBike team showed up at several key events where folks generate enormous enthusiasm for cycling. We were at the Northampton Bike Fest, the Dorchester Bike ‘n’ Brew. We also tabled at Northeastern University’s Sustainability Fair, reaching several incoming students curious about living by bike. And 545 Velo, the Greater Boston team, all jumped into a CX clinic donated by our board member and cyclo-cross legend Tim Johnson.
- We continued our “Middlesex Revelation” shop talk series in Lowell, with more to come throughout the MetroWest area. Lowell turned out in throngs for our event, which reveals a pent up demand for better biking in that city.
Finally (and where we still need your help), we launched our Light Brigade program with two key partners: Planet Bike and Digital Lumens. We are raising funds through the entire month of October to provide lights for low-income residents who depend on bicycles for transportation. And starting TODAY for every dollar we raise, Digital Lumens will match your gift until we get to $1000. Now is the time to join the Light Brigade and double your impact. Find out more information and donate now.
We plan to fan out on Thursday, Nov. 2, to not just provide, but also install front and back lights. Just $10 gets a set of lights on a bike. Our goal is to put front and back lights on 500 bikes (so 1000 lights total!!) before Daylight Savings Time ends.
Thank you for following along and supporting our efforts,