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Don’t you love it when someone manages to read all the way down a several hundred word article you have written and then for some reason chooses to miss the entire point of the article, while at the same time cherry picking quotes from your post so it seems to convey the opposite message of that article? Me too!
Not only was I lucky enough to merit the main pull quote in this rather poorly written piece of drivel parading as news, but I was used in the sensational title as well! The Metro creatively titled it’s anti-cycling flavored article “Boston winter biking ‘a hellish nightmare.”
Nate Homan the guy who wrote it also talked to some other folks I know and they say he misrepresented them as well. Well it’s good to know that he has consistency.
Here is the quote he used from me (by the way he never bothered to contact me):
“In the winter the sidewalks and bike paths become a hellish nightmare of ice and snow. It’s really not worth it to even think about riding on them.”
Sounds like I am really down on winter riding…too bad the article this is from is called “Winter Riding In Boston: Riding In The Snow” which is part of my “how to ride in the winter” series, which is linked on the right. (or here here and here) The series is all about riding your bike safely in the winter and the very first part of the article he cherry picked this quote from is:
You might have noticed, it snowed. Just a smidge here and there, but it is a perfect opportunity to discuss the ins and outs of snow riding.
First off we should discuss the most important part of winter riding. It is freaking fun! Nothing is more fun than sloshing around in some newly fallen snow, and if you are properly dressed, and your bicycle is well maintained (see the links above), snow cycling is not only possible, but very enjoyable.
See how “hellish nightmare” and “freaking fun” don’t really go together at all. The article then goes on and on for several hundred words about how fun riding in the snow is, how its not that hard, how it can be done safely, and how the whole experience is really rather fun. Don’t believe me go read for yourself.
The quote he used to click bait his article is waaaaay down at the bottom in the section about what happens when the sidewalks and bike lanes are not plowed, where I suggest that the best way to avoid these problems is to take the lane:
Ride in the road
In the winter the sidewalks and bike paths become a hellish nightmare of ice and snow. It’s really not even worth it to even think about riding on them (even the Minute Man is poorly plowed). Get out into the road where the large salt filled trucks have cleared you a path. This can sometimes mean riding in that little gap plowed out by the car wheels in front of you, or it might mean riding several feet further into the road because the snow plows have filled up the bike lane. Either way, be visible (lights, reflectors etc), and be confident.
If there is a bunch of snow and ice in front of you and you need to take the lane to avoid it, DO IT. Look over your shoulder, make sure no one is going to run you over, and take the lane. Be confident, get right out to where you need to be and stay there. If you halfheartedly take a lane, cars will try to pass you, and you don’t want them doing that when you are trying to avoid a bunch of slippery ice and snow. If they honk that is just their friendly holiday way of saying “I see you and approve of your full legal right to take that lane, good show!” Once you can SAFELY get back over to the right, do so and allow the other cars to pass.
These simple tips should help make your snow/slush/ice riding a bit more pleasurable. Have fun out there and be safe.
Homan DRAMATICALLY misrepresented both the message and the content of my piece by selective quoting, so I am going to do the same to him, here is a quote from his most recent article about winter riding in the snow:
Nate Homan “reporter” for the metro had this to say about winter riding, “…Other small details, like checking [facts]…don’t…concern…me…I…have…cobbled…this…pothole-riddled, slush-covered…[article]…[together]…from…nothing. Luckily it’s really not worth…[reading] it.”
The above quote I think sums up his article nicely.
I have written an email to Nate asking him why he felt the need to so purposefully misrepresent what I wrote, I will let you know if he writes back.
Tags: go ride in the snow, metro, nate homan, poor reporting, winter riding is fun
Posted in bostonbiker | 1 Comment »
Sometimes people are nice enough to send me products to review. So just know I got this for free, and that might bias me in ways I can’t consciously know about.
I was sent this pump a while ago, and have been playing around with it for a couple of weeks.
Mini-pumps are the ones you toss in your bag, and rely on when you get a flat out in the middle of nowhere and need to push enough air into your tire to get you home. It obviously is never going to work as well as a floor pump, but you need them to get enough air into your tire to roll home gingerly.
The RoadAir mini-pump is certainly small enough and light enough to carry around with you, and if you want you can even mount it to your bike (I just tossed it in my bag). It feels sturdy when you grab it, and doesn’t bend of flex in strange ways when you use it. The all metal frame helps with strength, and the plastic grip isn’t too bad (my hand didn’t slip off when pumping).
The metal body does get crazy cold in the winter, but if you are unlucky enough to get a flat in the snow I would suggest going into a store with your tire and waiting until the whole works warm up…or put a glove on to grab the aluminum part. This isn’t really a problem I think a lot of people will run into.
The pump has a clever way to get around the number one problem with mini-pumps, the pressure put on the valve stem when filling. Most mini-pumps attach right to the valve stem, and because they offer little to no mechanical advantage when pumping a tire, putting 100 psi of air into a tire, requires a herculean amount of force to be applied to your tiny little valve stem.
If you have long valve stems the force from the pumping can easily bend or break them. You end up putting your leg up against them, or trying to figure out a way to brace it on something, this pump comes with a long rubber tube that pulls out of the end allowing you to bend and flex the body of the pump without putting too much pressure on the valve stem. The longer hose also allows you access those hard to reach valve stems on strollers, and other non-bike inflated tires.
The rubber of the tube is very “aromatic” (it absolutely stunk of vulcanized rubber) when you first get it, so I recommend letting it hang out open in a well ventilated area for a day or two to let the rubber smell wear off before putting it in your bag. The contents of my bag had a lovely rubber smell until I let the pump “air out” (bike pump pun!) for about 12 hours. After which the smell was gone.
All the accessories tuck into the back of the pump, and are easy to loose if you don’t carefully remove the back when emptying them out (they flew all over the room), but really the only thing you will probably want is the presta-schrader valve adapter, which is small and easy to loose, so I just leave it permanently attached to the end of the tube, even though it keeps the dust cap from closing. It would haven been nicer to have a more elegant way to switch from presta to schrader, or perhaps just a bigger dust cap, but this is not a deal breaker for me.
The pump puts air in your tire, it does it without weighing too much, or damaging your valve stems. It doesn’t feel like a cheap plastic piece of crap, and I feel like it could take a beating before it broke. All in all not a bad little pump. I would recommend this pump if you are in the market for one. The price put’s it above the average for these sorts of things, but its a quality product that isn’t too pricey.
Verdict: good pump, buy one if you want a good mini-pump that wont break your valve stems off.
Tags: free stuff, mini-pump, review, road air
Posted in Merch, reviews | No Comments »
Three bike projects won! (for those of you who don’t know what the Cambridge Participatory Budget is check this out)
9. Separate Bike Lanes from Traffic
Committee: Streets, Sidewalks & Transit
Short Description: Improve safety for drivers and bikers by moving bike lanes to be between street parking spots and the sidewalk, reducing car-bike interactions and potential collisions.
Long Description: Moving existing bike lanes to the stationary side of parked cars has been implemented in many cities and countries, including New York City, Portland, and throughout Scandinavia. In fact, Cambridge has successfully piloted this idea on Ames Street in Kendall (see photo A below). A current issue is that cars, unfamiliar with the striping, park in the bicycle lane. The Cambridge Traffic Department suggested that with more than one location, cars would become more familiar and park only in the designated spots. The design possibilities, ranging from simple to decorative, can work to keep out cars using minimal street space (see photo B).
The fact is that traditional bike lanes are good at making cyclists feel safe and do improve visibility, but they do not protect cyclists adequately from harm from dooring or moving vehicles. Protected bike lanes, on the other hand, do reduce conflicts and stress for cyclists. Such an improvement to the bike lane would benefit all cyclists in and around Cambridge, because improving one road improves connectivity throughout the region. This project benefits car-drivers by removing the potential to open a door into a bike lane, as well as reduced stress from not having bicyclists slipping past a blind side. Studies consistently show—and experience corroborates—that for many people, dangerous road conditions is the reason they don’t bicycle. With all of the environmental and social benefits of bicycling, making it accessible to all comfort levels must be a high priority.
A: Aerial view of Ames Street’s protected bike lanes on both sides.
B: Minimal extra space required for a safer bicycle lane.
Make Massachusetts Avenue Safer for Bikers
Committee: Streets, Sidewalks & Transit
Location: Along Massachusetts Avenue
Short Description: Improve safety on Massachusetts Avenue by adding shared lane markings for bicycles, along with signs saying “Bike Route,” “Bicycle May Use Full Lane,” and “Watch for Cyclists” where bike lanes are not already present.
Long Description: Massachusetts Avenue is part of the Bicycle Network Plan. Commuters, shoppers, families, and students all bike on Mass. Avenue, competing with heavy traffic, including large trucks and buses. But two stretches of Mass. Avenue have no accommodations for bicycles. The most recent 2015 Bicycle Network Plan ranks Mass. Avenue as unaccommodating for all but very experienced cyclists, and community input maps show that Mass. Avenue is a place where cyclists would like to see improvements. As a solution, we propose painting shared lane markings (approximately 100) and installing more signs (approximately 45) to improve conditions for bicycles on Mass. Avenue.
Specifically, we propose painting shared lane markings in the center of the right lane in both directions, where Mass. Avenue is currently too narrow for bike lanes: from Central Square to Harvard Square, and from north of Porter Square to the Arlington line. We also propose adding frequent, large signs that say “Bike Route,” “Bicycle May Use Full Lane,” and “Watch for Cyclists.” The shared lane markings and the bicycle awareness signs will benefit drivers by making them more aware of cyclists, while also giving cyclists more confidence to use the road. According to the 2015 Bicycle Network Plan, shared lane markings reduce by half the proportion of cyclists who feel “very uncomfortable” riding in commercial areas.
This is currently the only bike signage on Northern Mass. Avenue.
Here you can see a cyclist riding on northern Mass. Avenue, where there are no bike lanes, no shared lane markings, and no bike route signs:
Shape Up Our Squares!
Committee: Streets, Sidewalks & Transit
Location: Central and Inman Squares
Short Description: Paint green bike lanes through the intersections on Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square and Hampshire Street in Inman Square to improve safety for drivers, bikers, and pedestrians.
Long Description: The main intersections in Central and Inman Squares have high volumes of cars, buses, bicycles, and pedestrians on a daily basis. The City’s policy and practice with regard to painting bike lanes is to use green paint where there are potential points of conflict, such as at intersections and some street crossings. This proposal is to paint the bike lanes green at the primary square intersections – Mass. Avenue and Prospect Street in Central Square, and Hampshire Street in Inman Square. To increase awareness of bicycle presence further, the Mass. Avenue and Hampshire Street bike lanes should continue through the intersections with dashed lines. An example of the recommended treatment exists on Main Street at the intersection of Vassar Street in Cambridge, as well as on Commonwealth Avenue near Boston University.
Part 1: Inman Square video:
Intersection on Main Street at Vassar Street: Example of bike lanes continued through the intersection.
Commonwealth Avenue near Boston University, notoriously dangerous for bicyclists. The green paint here helps cyclists assert themselves in this difficult intersection.
Inman Square: To demonstrate scope of repainting.
Tags: cambridge participatory budget, new bike projects
Posted in advocacy, Commuting, infrastructure | No Comments »
Massbike is getting some snazzy new digs!
From the email.
Don’t worry – we’re not going far! On March 1 MassBike is heading down the block to 50 Milk Street and moving in to the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), a co-working space with locations in Kendall Square and Downtown Boston. We are thrilled to be a part of an exciting and innovative environment and have invited other members of the advocacy community to join us. We want to forge stronger relationships between transportation advocacy groups in order to accomplish more. Our new office has tons of event space, so expect to see new discussion panels and events in 2016!
To go with a new office… Keep a lookout for other exciting news from MassBike! A new website is coming, Project 351, and more exciting events, partnerships, and initiatives throughout the year.
here is the press release they put out.
Invites Local Transportation Advocates to Come Together in Shared Office
BOSTON, M.A..- (January 25, 2016) – On March 1 the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition will take an anchor position in a shared work environment with potentially other transportation advocacy leaders at the Cambridge Innovation Center at 50 Milk Street in downtown Boston. The CIC houses co-working space in Kendall Square and Boston. The long term goal of the co-working space is to create a hub of active and sustainable transportation advocacy.
With proximity to the State House, Boston City Hall, and the Department of Transportation the Cambridge Innovation Center is the ideal location to act as home-base for the crucial work that is done with government partners. The shared space will further develop the collaborative efforts within the community, increase MassBike’s ability to effectively pursue change and strengthen a unified voice.
MassBike will be an active and engaged member of the diverse CIC community, hosting various events and educational programming throughout the year. The multi-floor facility specializes in creating affordable shared space environments with event space, conference facilities and professional communication design.
“We want to put our team in an exhilarating environment alongside some of the best and brightest thought leaders. The long term goal is to make the collective bicycle lobby in Massachusetts the strongest in America. In short, we want to go to the zone defense,” said MassBike Executive Director Richard Fries.
Tags: massbike, moving, new offices
Posted in advocacy | No Comments »
Noah Hicks, a 28-year old self-styled bicycle mechanic, activist, and entrepreneur, is launching The Sip & Spoke Bike Kitchen: a minority-owned, full-service bicycle shop and cafe, in his native Dorchester. The Bike Kitchen will be housed in a historic, long-abandoned building with an important transportation-related history: a rest stop along a formerly busy streetcar line, today still an important transportation corridor that is increasingly used by local and regional cyclists.
Hicks, who grew up in Boston’s Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood, is the founder of the Bowdoin Bike School, a nonprofit bicycle repair and teaching center that engages local youth in mastering bicycle mechanics. The school, presently housed in a former automotive repair garage, is already an important community hub for youth development, economic self-sufficiency, transit justice, and health equity. By providing low-cost repair services and free instruction to over 1,200 youth and adults annually, Bowdoin Bike School has made cycling accessible to many who were underserved by traditional bike shops.
The Sip & Spoke Bike Kitchen and Bowdoin Bike School will bring new life to a historic, city-owned structure in an area of the city with limited amenities and where residents’ average income is significantly lower than the City of Boston as a whole. The project is made possible through a unique, early partnership with Historic Boston Incorporated, a nonprofit developer focused on historic preservation, and The American City Coalition, a nonprofit neighborhood revitalization group. Utile, Inc. Architecture + Planning, one of Boston’s leading architectural firms, is project architect. The partnership’s proposal was selected by the city, allowing for purchase of the property for $100.
“I will be very happy to see this unused public asset brought into productive use,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “This project will help activate the street and continue the positive momentum of this historic Boston neighborhood.”
From an early age, Hicks used biking for exercise and exposure to green spaces, and as a means to access social activities outside of his neighborhood. Hicks outgrew bicycling as he got older, and embarked on a career teaching Latin at an urban charter school. When the school closed, he returned to bicycles as an affordable alternative to public transportation or cars, and to earn money refurbishing old bicycles—many of them abandoned on city streets.
“I ended up just experimenting on a bike I bought that was in bad shape. By doing that, I was able to save myself a few dollars,” said Hicks. Hicks then started flipping bikes, buying used bikes and throwing his own personal touch to his creations, realizing that he could make 3 or 4 more times what he had spent. “I started selling bikes for income and that was huge for me,” said Hicks.
Hicks seeks to respond to the needs of low-income riders and working-class immigrants, who use the bike as a means of transportation that is both cheaper than a car and faster than walking. These “subsistence cyclists” comprise a large portion of the local and national cycling community.
“The absence of bike shops in many of Boston’s neighborhoods is very much akin to the absence of access to supermarkets,” said Richard Fries, Executive Director of MassBike. “We, as a culture, are not providing very good access to bicycles for the people who could benefit most. Noah recognizes and is responding to that need.”
“I have lived in this community for my entire life and there is a dearth of places for us to meet, to collaborate, to celebrate our neighborhood’s rich culture and unique character,” says Hicks. “Bikes and coffee are both tremendously unifying, and I see this project as an opportunity to bring people together and raise awareness about the needs of low-income riders.”
With construction financing in place for the structure, Hicks now must now raise the money for build-out costs for the historic structure—adding the amenities needed to create an inviting community hub in his Dorchester neighborhood. Hicks has launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign with the hope that other individuals committed to socially conscious cycling and building community capital will contribute.
Tags: awesome, bike school, sip and spoke
Posted in advocacy, Bike Business | No Comments »
State House Hearings on Key Bike Bills – Tomorrow!
Tomorrow at 10 a.m., the hearings before the Joint Committee on Transportation afford citizens the opportunity to speak for or against proposed legislation. So far, we’ve received excellent feedback from the hill at the overwhelming number of letters and e-mails that have been sent in support of these bills. For that, we thank you for your efforts!
For those of you who have yet to write your lawmakers – there is still time to make an impact! The deadline for written comment is the end of the day Wednesday, January 6th.
For a summary of the bills MassBike is advocating for, more info on how to get involved, and how to find your representatives read our blog here.
To read a full listing of the bills and hearings, click here: Mass. Joint Committee on Transportation
Those interested in testifying in support of these bills in person are urged to contact MassBike at [email protected].
Safer Streets in Brookline!
This Thursday January 7th Transportation Division staff will present the proposed bicycle improvement plan for the Beacon Street westbound (Marion to Westbourne Terrace) portion of the corridor. Following the presentation members of the Bicycle Advisory Committee and Transportation Board will take public comment on the proposed plans under consideration. No action will be taken by either Board on January 7th. Copies of the report and two alternative plans are available here.
Thursday, January 7, 7pm – 9pm
Brookline Town Hall
333 Washington Street, Selectmen’s Hearing Room, 6th Floor
Tags: action alert, massbike
Posted in advocacy | No Comments »
Suffering a huge influx of spam users, if you really really want a new account/blog use the contact form and I will make you one.
Also I updated the code base, so let me know if anything is strange with the sites.
Tags: site news
Posted in bostonbiker | No Comments »
State House Hearings on Key Bike Bills Set for Jan. 6
Lawmakers Consider Truck Side Guards, Three-foot Rule, and Other Bills
Hearings have been scheduled on Beacon Hill for several key bills that would impact bicyclists in Massachusetts. To be held Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 10 a.m., these hearings before the Joint Committee on Transportation afford citizens the opportunity to speak for or against proposed legislation. These hearings will be the first opportunity of the New Year for you to get involved – read on to learn how!For many members of the bicycling community these bills have been an ongoing effort. We extend our gratitude to those who have shared their story and contacted their representatives on Beacon Hill. For those of you who have yet to write your lawmakers – there is still time to make an impact!
To read a full listing of the bills and hearings, click here: Mass. Joint Committee on Transportation
“This is the opportunity every citizen gets to weigh in on proposed legislation,” said Richard Fries, executive director of MassBike. “While we file letters and make arguments with data and case studies the most effective influence at these hearings are personal stories from Bay State citizens. We are seeking out testimony from the families and friends of victims whose lives and limbs may have been spared if these laws had been in place.”
Amid several transportation bills filed there are four key bicycling measures to be reviewed in next week’s hearings, two of which were filed by MassBike. What may be confusing is that these are listed as eight measures. This is because the bills have versions in both the House and the Senate, (hence the “H” and “S” designation below) which will be considered together in the Joint Committee on Transportation, which makes up or down recommendations before going to a full vote of the Legislature.
Whether in writing or in person, bicyclists statewide are encouraged by MassBike to participate in helping to secure passage of these measures. Should they not pass in 2016 it would be another two years before we could get these even considered. Of note is that some of these bills would be critical to improve Massachusetts’ spot on the League of American Bicyclists’ Bike Friendly State rankings. Currently we are number four.
These are the bills under consideration:
Truck Side Guard Bill H. 3019/S. 1810
This bill would require side guards and convex mirrors on larger vehicles operating in Massachusetts. A significant percentage of the recent deaths and injuries of bicyclists in the Bay State have involved trucks making right turns in urban situations. This ordinance has been passed in Boston but has little application for trucks registered elsewhere. More than half of bicyclists killed by trucks hit the side of the truck first and are then swept beneath.
Learn more here: Truck Side Guards Explained
Bike Lane Bill H. 2072/S. 1808
This bill is pretty simple in that it would make standing or parking in a bike lane or other on-road bike facility a ticketable offense with a $100 fine. This is not just about the rights of bicyclists. This is a major safety issue for all road users and an environmental issue. The actions of those who double park or park in bike lanes have proved to cause traffic congestion that is often magnified for miles back into the transportation system, wasting fuel and producing unnecessary greenhouse gases.
For more on ways Boston is using interactive data to reduce double-parking and congestion, watch this video: Waze Data and Double Parking
Vulnerable Users Bill H. 3073/S. 1807
Commonly known as a three-feet law, this could be the most significant bill of the bunch for cyclists statewide. Passage of this bill could elevate Massachusetts into the top three of the League of American Bicyclists bike friendly rankings. This bill would require motorists to provide a minimum of three-feet when overtaking a “vulnerable user” even if it requires them to cross the centerline to do so. This bill would align cyclists with police, first responders, construction workers, pedestrians, and others defined as vulnerable users. Research indicates that bicyclists being struck from behind comprise 40 percent of fatalities. Likewise tow truck drivers report a death every six days and police report a fatality every month as they work on our roadways.
Bike Path Crosswalk Bill H. 3072/S. 1808
Passage of this bill would make it legal for bicyclists to do what they are already doing: ride across a bike path crosswalk, provided they yield to pedestrians and operate with reasonable caution. More important it would require motorists to yield to bicyclists in those crosswalks. Current law provides legal protection only to pedestrians in crosswalks, even when they are set as part of a bike path. Currently bicyclists are technically supposed to walk through such intersections if they are to enjoy such protection. This is unrealistic and antiquated.
Any citizen may weigh in during these hearings, but MassBike is working alongside several other members of the Vision Zero Coalition to coordinate a powerful presentation of speakers. Those interested in testifying in support of these bills are urged to contact MassBike at [email protected].
How else can you help?
Contact your lawmakers. For a sample letter and how to find your State Representative or State Senator click here.
Tags: action alert, mass bike, Take Action
Posted in advocacy | No Comments »