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News, Events, Updates
From Boston Magazine:
In late July, a Hubway cyclist traveling down Massachusetts Avenue in the South End was hit by a city-contracted trash truck as it went to make a right hand turn onto Columbus Avenue. The cyclist survived the accident, and it may have been due to just one detail: special safety guards that were installed on the sides of the vehicle as part of a pilot program launched by the city last year.
In 2013, through a collaboration between the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics and the Public Works Department, officials said they undertook the largest municipal pilot program of truck side guards in the nation, testing three different types of guards on 16 active vehicles driving the streets, including trash collection trucks.
Officials also worked with researchers from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center in Kendall Square to sketch out the details for the proposed guard project, as well as City Councillor Ayanna Pressley, and members of the Boston Cyclists Union.
Tags: news, sideguards
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While I am very sad to see David go, he did an excellent job at MassBike for many years, its great that he is moving on to other challenges.
Today our Executive Director, David Watson, announced that he will be leaving MassBike. David has been with us for more than eight years and in that time has used his passion for biking to help make Massachusetts safer for all cyclists.
Watson remembers biking in the streets of Massachusetts at the beginning of his tenure at MassBike. “Bike commuters were bravely riding along, but largely limited to the strongest and most fearless among us,” he wrote in his announcement (pdf). “There were precious few bike lanes in the state, and none at all in Boston. State transportation policies were just beginning to contemplate biking and walking, but that had not yet translated to change on the streets. Little or no funding was dedicated to bicycle infrastructure or education.”
Now, eight years later, much has improved. Massachusetts has installed more bike lanes and increased state funding for bike paths. More residents have an interest in biking for transportation and health. In a time when federal funding for biking and walking has been cut, Massachusetts has created a state policy to triple biking, walking, and transit, and is providing funding to make it happen. With David at the helm, MassBike has:
- Launched our Safe Routes to School Program in 2008, which has reached more than 11,000 kids
- Championed the Bicyclist Safety Bill, which became law in 2009
- Trained MBTA bus drivers since 2010 to better prepare drivers for interactions with bicyclists
- Successfully advocated for improved bike parking at transit stations and bike racks on all buses
- Expanded Bay State Bike Week in 2010 to a statewide celebration in partnership with MassDOT
- Introduced legislation in 2011 (and again in 2013) to protect Vulnerable Road Users
- Secured expanded bicycle hours on the MBTA Blue Line in 2011
- Published bike safety information in seven languages in 2012 (now 10 languages!)
- Launched the Bikeable Communities Program in 2012, which has helped more than 40 cities and towns improve bicycling conditions
- Created the annual Massachusetts Bike/Walk Summit in 2012
- Helped educate police officers in 2014 with our training video
- In 2014 successfully advocated for increased funding for bike paths, including more than $130 million in the MassDOT capital budget and $377 million in bonding authority
“A tireless advocate – and a tireless cyclist – David has been instrumental in seeing so many wins for safe biking in Massachusetts,” said Jim Bradley, President of MassBike’s Board of Directors. “We thank him for serving MassBike, bicyclists in Massachusetts, and the community so well these last eight years. We will remember his time at MassBike as one of action, commitment, and enthusiasm.”
The Board now begins a search for a new Executive Director. The right person will capitalize on the successes of Watson’s tenure to provide Massachusetts with a future of greater acceptance of and enthusiasm for bicycling.
“I am very proud of the team, the organization, and the partnerships we have built together over the past eight years,” Watson wrote of the MassBike board, staff, and community. “This has been the most challenging and the most rewarding job I have ever had, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to do it.”
It also means that someone can step in to take the helm and move MassBike forward even more!
Yesterday we announced that David Watson is stepping down as the Executive Director of MassBike. Now we are starting the search for a new ED. If you or anyone you know is interested, read the job description here (pdf), and send an application to [email protected]!
Tags: David Watson, massbike
Posted in advocacy, news | 1 Comment »
The City of Boston took a big step forward for the country today as Mayor Marty Walsh presented an ordinance to the City Council that will make truck design far safer for pedestrians and bikes.
“We believe this is the first ordinance of it’s kind in the country,” wrote Mayor Walsh’s press secretary Kate Norton. “The ordinance requires side guards, convex mirrors, cross-over mirrors, and blind-spot awareness decals on all vehicles over 10,000 pounds awarded a city contract. There is a fine for those not in compliance — escalating from $100 for the first offense, to potential termination of the contract.”
The Bike Union began pushing for the ordinance through Councillor Ayanna Pressley’s office in the wake of Eoin McGrory’s tragic death in Charlestown in early April. (Please contribute to a charity fund in his memory.) At the same time, the city’s office of Urban Mechanics was talking to the city’s new mayor about the success of a pilot program that required sideguards first on the city’s public works truck fleet, and subsequently on all trash hauling trucks that contracted with the city. The results of the pilot were positive and all parties agreed that a move toward design requirements for all trucks contracting with the city was the best next step.
Today the Bike Union is also releasing a new“Sideguards Save Lives” fact sheet that illustrates the benefits side guards and blind spot mirrors. The fact sheet is that will give residents in other municipalities, the state, and the country a tool to push forward similar ordinances and legislation.
“The Bike Union knows who’s who and they set up a face to face meeting with Councillor Ayanna Pressley’s staff,” said Alex Epstein, one of the nation’s expert on truck safety design who works at USDOT at the Volpe Center in Cambridge, and also helped advise the Mayor’s staff. “I don’t think it would have been possible without that insider connection.”
Read more here. I can’t wait to see this passed into law. There is no reason such a simple and cost effective way to save lives is not mandatory.
Tags: cyclists safety, Law, mayor walsh
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An interesting proposal, I am not totally sold, but I like where this is going. The left turns across pedestrian traffic worry me slightly, but honestly it probably wouldn’t be that bad, as the cyclists would have to slow to turn anyway.
Tags: intersection design, theory, video
Posted in fun, infrastructure, video | 1 Comment »
Tags: massbike, update
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From Boston Bikes:
Kick off your Labor Day weekend this Friday morning by riding to City Hall Plaza and enjoying breakfast with us! Bike in on your own or join a convoy from all over Greater Boston. And, a special challenge for the last BikeFriday this summer: Recruit a friend or colleague to come with you! Don’t forget to tell us you’re coming! Free breakfast will be provided by our friends at Boloco, Larabar, and Iggy’s Bread of the World!
Photo credit: Lee Toma
We are seeking applicants to join our team of Youth Cycling Instructors. Youth Cycling Instructors teach in-classroom and on-bike workshops to students in grades 2-12 during the school day in the Boston Public Schools. For more information, visit http://www.bostonbikes.org/
Bikes Lanes Coming Soon!
We’ve been working hard to get new bike lanes in the ground! Keep your eyes open for new lanes in these neighborhoods / on these streets:
East Boston: Maverick St, Border St, Marginal St, Orleans St, Jeffries St
Mattapan: Ballou Ave, Willowood St, Woodrow Ave, Walk Hill St
South Boston: West 4th St, Dorchester Ave, Albany St
West Roxbury: Baker St, VFW Parkway
There are several other streets that are in design and will hopefully be coming soon!
Earlier this month Hubway put out a call for design ideas to be considered in the #HubwayEveryday Bike Design Contest, and five finalists have been selected. Now it’s your turn to decide which one will be turned into a limited edition, one-of-a-kind, “unicorn” Hubway bike.
Click here to view the finalists and cast your vote.
When you vote, you can also enter for a chance to win a free Annual Hubway Membership!
Voting will run through Tuesday, September 9th, 2014, at11:59pm ET, and you can only vote once. The winning design will become the newest ride in Hubway’s fleet of more than 1300 bikes. Place your vote now!
Boston Bikes held New England’s first-ever women’s bike ride & festival earlier this month in Millennium Park. Over 150 women enjoyed riding together, learning new skills, and celebrating with live music, food and fun. It was inspiring to see so many women on bikes, and the happy faces at the finish line brightened an already gorgeous day. Count on watching this event grow and improve every year! We want to thank our generous sponsors including Boloco, Larabar, Hubway, Zipcar, Rialto, Bern, Landry’s, Ferris Wheels, Equal Exchange, the Museum of Science, the Coolidge Corner Theater, and Whole Foods. We’re also incredibly grateful to our partners who led clinics or contributed volunteers to the event, including the Luna Chix, the Boston Cyclists Union, Hubway, and the Boston Bike Party.
And finally, we want to extend a special thanks to Gary and Maureen Briere of River’s Edge Cycling, who provided instrumental logistical support in organizing this event. River’s Edge produces the annual Berkshires to Boston ride, which is coming up in September. There’s still time to register ride, or join River’s Edge for a day as a volunteer.
Pictured above: City Councilor Ayanna Pressley sending off 150+ riders on the first-annual Boston Women’s Bike Ride & Festival.
Mark your calendar to come down to City Hall Plaza onSaturday, September 20th for the TD Bank Mayor’s Cup. Enjoy the Boloco Block Party and watch professional cyclists race around downtown Boston. The next day, experience the city on two wheels as part of Hub on Wheels, riding on a car-free Storrow Drive and discovering Boston on a 10, 30, or 50-mile route. And, new this year, you can select to have a portion of your entry fee donated to supporting Boston Bikes programs!More info.
Earlier this summer we helped the Boston Public Library launch the Bibliocycle, a mobile library powered by bike. We’re proud to also announce the launch of ReadBoston’s BookBike, a bike-powered trailer that brings books out to ReadBoston’s Storymobile program, which seeks to increase literacy and distribute books in Boston. Click here to see a video about the new trailer.
Tags: Boston Bikes, update
Posted in advocacy, fun | No Comments »
two cool jobs from Boston bikes.
Boston Bikes employs a small team of part-time, somewhat seasonal employees, primarily for Community Cycling Programs. Once you’re a part of our team, you’ll have opportunities to support all of our projects.
We are actively seeking Cycling Instructor candidates for September-October 2014.
Cycling Instructors (actively hiring):
You don’t need to be a bike expert: An affinity for teaching, youth development, and a relentless work ethic are much more important. Reliability and professionalism are expected at all times. We’re looking for people who take personal pride in their work, regardless of whether you’re teaching a classroom or loading a truck. Work happens primarily during day time hours on weekdays (during the school day), with some night and weekend events. Applicants should live in the City of Boston or anticipate living in Boston before beginning employment.
Cycling instructors work as part of a team to teach cycling skills and safety to kids and teens in the Boston Public Schools as part of our Youth Cycling Program, which serves over 5,000 youth per year. Our program visits a school for two weeks with a fleet of bikes and helmets. On the first day, instructors lay the groundwork for safe riding including helmet fitting, signaling, and safe biking behaviors during a classroom-based workshop. The rest of the time, instructors lead on-the-bike activities and games to reinforce safety lessons and to expose kids to the fun of riding a bike. Cycling instructors also support our Roll it Forwardprogram by leading safety workshops and fitting recipients for helmets and bikes.
This is a fun job, but without a doubt, it is highly physical work. Our instructors and mechanics are constantly lifting bikes, loading trucks, and climbing stairs. If hired, you will be expected to jump in, learn quickly, and be ready to get your hands dirty. Training is provided, but the ability to learn on-the-job is just as important.
To apply, send a resume and a short message of interest to Jenny Duquette. Please include an overview of when you would be able to work and how many hours you seek. Resumes should focus on teaching experience, youth development or early-childhood development, and bicycling experience (if applicable). Unfortunately we cannot guarantee a response to all applicants. CORI background checks will be performed on candidates that advance past the interview.
Tags: Boston Bikes, jobs
Posted in fun, jobs | No Comments »
For those not in the know, the Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), is a yearly ride across Iowa. Now in its 43rd years, it is sort of like mid-west burning man on wheels. A rolling party of 15-20,000 people having fun in the corn. If you have never tried it, I highly recommend it.
The route changes every year, and this year was widely hyped as “the shortest, and flattest.” For the last three years I have ridden a fixed gear, and figured this would be an even better year to do so again. So I began the ritual dance that has become a familiar part of RAGBRAI for me.
Figure out what airport is closest to the start, buy one ticket from Boston to that airport, find a shuttle bus that will take me from the airport to the start. Find another airport close to the finish, figure out how to get to that. But a separate ticket for a different airline. Deconstruct the bike, pack the bike, ship the bike. Take a train to the airport, take a large plane to a small plane, to a shuttle bus, to a bicycle, ride for a week, repeat in reverse. On the face of it its a logistical nightmare, but in reality it always goes smooth as butter, and every single person you meet along the way is very nice and makes you happy. It’s hard to return to Boston with its cranky drivers and dirty air. You miss the corn when you leave.
That’s not to say that this year was without its challenges. Here is a day by day break down.
Day one: Rock Valley To Okoboji
After a pleasant night spend in a tent on soft grass I awoke to a glorious Iowa sunrise, and it just felt good to be on a bike. The winds were calm, the temp was decent, the corn was growing (in the places that had not been killed by the recent floods). The Town was decked out in bike finery and everyone waved at us as we left.
The 70 miles flew by in a flash, town after town flying by in a blur. That isn’t to say we didn’t see some awesome stuff.
Check out this 36er!
These guys rode these things the entire time…
Some people over did it on their first day…this man is asleep in the center of the beer garden, when I went to make sure he wasn’t dead, his wife (!!) told me to leave him be because it was funny…he wasn’t dead. Our camp ground was in an awesome super soft field, I slept like a baby.
Day 2: Okoboji to Emmetsburg.
I awoke to this outside my tent.
Bike udder in the morning, cyclists warning. But the portent proved not to be true as today was another PERFECT riding day. As you rode out of town you got to see every single state flag flapping in the glorious Iowa sunrise.
The day was short, only 40 miles, but I still managed to see some cool stuff.
Checking out old barns while eating ice cream.
A lot of people do this ride…from horizon to horizon nothing but cyclists. This little traffic jam was caused by the ice cream man. Ice cream is serious business on RAGBRAI.
You might not know this but Iowa is a leader in wind power…hmm all those wind turbines I wonder if it ever gets windy around here…I probably should have seen this for the ominous sign that it was.
I was not going to be eating nasty fried food all week. 1 box of salad, one apple, one package of goat cheese, some dressing, and some blue berries, everyone was jealous. I went to bed happy.
Day 3: Emmetsburg to Forest City
The century day! I always like this day, it feels like a proper day of riding, and you get to see a lot of beautiful country. I awoke to a nice calm beautifully blue Iowa sky. There was a slight breeze, as we pedaled to the pancake man for breakfast.
Pancake man is not fucking around, he can make 200 pancakes every 3 minutes, and you are allowed to eat as many as you want…so good. While we ate the wind slowly increased, so gently we didn’t even notice until we got back on our bikes.
They call it the Iowa mountains, head winds so steady and strong that it feels like you are always going up hill. The wind turbines were spinning merrily creating loads of energy but all I could feel was a steady never ending push against me that started off refreshing, but slowly, ever so slowly, began to steal my strength. What started off as a 20 mph wind, grew to 25, then 30.
We were headed east, and the wind was blowing west. But it was gorgeous, and the temps were not too high. So we pushed against the pedals, and the wind pushed against us. If you look at the map you can see we had some brief lovely breaks from the constant wind, just enough to allow us to rest, and the day went by as days like this do. Slowly but steadily.
Want to ride a tandem, don’t have a partner? Build one!
Not only did this town have a bitching Camero, but they also have a tradition of tossing toilets for distance. Not a plastic toilet, but a real deal porcelain throne. It seemed unlikely a bunch of tired cyclists was going to beat the town record, so we didn’t even try. If we had though we would have gotten a free t-shirt. Oh Iowa.
There was also this dapper gentleman, a bold fashion choice indeed. He rode the entire day in the sun like this. I am guessing it had something to do with the fact that his entire crew were drinking “special” water bottles that looked to my untrained eye an awful lot like rot gut.
100 miles later the wind no longer had anything to push against, because my ass was done pedaling. Tired and HUNGRY I rolled into camp, set up the tents, and found myself something made out of vegetables to eat. After double helpings of some sort of noodle thing, some more ice cream, a cookie, a couple power bars, and some sort of smoothie I passed out feeling good.
Day 4: Forest City To Mason City.
It wasn’t even 40 miles…we laughed, we dawdled, we spent a lot of time lounging, it was a good time.
There were big ass wind turbines!
And Kittens! I named the grey one smokey, and the black one Beelzebub.
Pikachu made an appearance.
And of course ice cream!
Even though the millage was the shortest of the week, we spent the most time on the road. Mostly having fun and goofing around.
Day 5: Mason City to Waverly.
Its a funny thing about Iowa, it will go from Flat as a pancake to hilly as hell in a moment. We went up, we went down, we went up again, and down again. The same 300 feet of climbing and decent over and over again. It was nice, the landscape was gorgeous, rolling hills, verdant greens everywhere.
The day went by in a blur of lovely vistas and big ass hills. That night we camped in yet another soft and lovely field, we went to bed feeling lucky for yet another awesome day. While we slept, clouds gathered, and winds increased.
Day 6: Waverly to Independence.
We woke up and it was cold, just barely 70. We had been enjoying temps well into the 90′s even 100+ so 70 felt cold. The sky was black and ugly, like it had gotten into a fight the night before and was bruising. The wind tugged at our jerseys, and made taking our tent down hard. We were going to catch a whoopin.
The maelstrom held off until about a mile outside the first town, and then it let fly with both barrels. First the wind kicked up, and then the temp dropped. It went from 75 to 59 in half an hour. The rain started off fierce and only got worse. Driven by 35 mph wind it hit you in the face with a significant force. It felt like ice, even though it wasn’t frozen. It stung and made you turn red. The wind was blowing north, so we either got it full in the ear, or dead on in the face. This was not pleasant, in fact, it was the opposite.
I had nothing on but a jersey and some shorts. The moment I stopped for any reason my entire body started to shake with the shivers. I actually took refuge in a Kybo (Iowa for porta-potty) just to warm up. As the storm worked up its rage the winds got stronger, 35 mph with the rain, with gusts into the 40′s. It would grab you and toss you around, like a bit of fluff. Luckily at that point all the riders had spread so far out that you could get blown all over the road without hitting anyone else.
The corn was bent nearly sideways, and we had no choice but to move forward against the wind. No one moved fast, and many didn’t move at all. There were a lot of people waiting in each town for the SAG bus. Each mile was a triumph of the will over nature. Hands and fingers went numb, you could see your breath, it was cold and extremely windy, and the whole day was a grind.
I put my head on my handlebars, got as small as possible, and pushed for all I was worth. The rain fell, the wind blew, and I creaked slowly across Iowa. By the end I just wanted to go to sleep, but in an irony lost on no one, just as we pulled into camp the damn sun came out and the wind died down. Nature had a good belly laugh at our expense, but at least we didn’t have to set up our tents in the rain.
The end town that day had a cool dam, bursting with all the rain we had gotten that day. We had Chinese food for dinner, it was cheap…and surprisingly tasty. Which might have been because we were dying of hunger, or because for some strange reason we had found good Asian food in the middle of Iowa. I fell asleep in a heap, I don’t really remember much more than being tired to the bone.
Day 7: Independence to Guttenberg (Pronounce Gut-n-burg):
I awoke and found my bike to be strangely heavy. When I titled it upright about 4 cups of water ran out of the frame. It had been driven into it yesterday. Once drained I started on the last day of riding.
The winds had blown, the rain had fallen, but Iowa had saved the best for last. This part of the state is mind blowing-ly pretty. There are actually trees, and the Amish have made many homes here. We saw old fashion barns, and old fashion farming methods, and a whole crop of little Amish kids let out to watch us crazy folks in spandex ride by. Each of them had the same exact hair cut, and each of them smiled and waved at us as we went by.
The first order of business for the day was WAFFLES! All you could eat, 20 different kinds of syrup, fresh made whipped cream, and butter in a dispenser!
Nectar of the gods! This man was making waffles so fast that even the line of hundreds was only taking up one row of his waffle empire. It wasn’t until another hundred or so people got in line the he fired up that back row. But each waffle was so big that you could really only eat two before giving up, so he kept the line moving at a rapid pace.
I saw a giant strawberry, in Strawberry Point.
An Iowa farm bicycle.
Some local political flavor.
And a whole heap of gorgeous rolling hills…oh right Iowa has hills.
To the untrained eye that might not look very hilly…but glance over to the right there. See those ominous dips. Those are some big ass hills. There was 3k feet of climbing on this day, almost all of it in the last 5 miles. The climbs were not so bad…it was the downhills that nearly killed me. A fixed gear bicycle is great for riding in Boston, its relatively flat, not too much in the way of screaming madness inducing downhills…which is exactly what this part of Iowa comes standard with.
While screaming down the first of a series of three massive downhills a rather suicidal police officer informed me (while walking out into the middle of the street in front of hundreds of careening cyclists) that we could “slow down and take in the view.” So we did,with the help of the top layer of my brake pads, and some judicious swearing, we were not disappointed.
My aunt and uncle rode down the second hill with me and said that they were “afraid my legs would fly off and kill them both.” We hit 50 mph for about 20 seconds, which is about 19 seconds longer than I ever want to move my legs that fast ever again. I actually had to pull over and rest after that downhill, it crushed all the life out of me, but in a good way.
We made it to the mighty Mississippi, and dunked our front wheels into it, symbolically and figuratively completing our trek from river to river (Missouri to Mississippi) that marks the start and end of every RAGBRAI.
I stayed with some Iowa friends that night and was treated to the best in vegetarian Midwestern culinary tradition.
Then it was asleep in a tent for one more night, up with the dawn to fly out of the tiniest airport I have ever seen (gates 1,2, and 3 all shared the same door), to a larger plane, to a bus, to a train to my own bed again. My poor bike only showed up a week later, having to suffer the indignity of traveling by UPS.
My fourth year in the corn was a memorable one, I am already planning for my 5th.
Tags: 2014, awesome, corn, iowa, RAGBRAI, rain, wind
Posted in bostonbiker | No Comments »