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Action Alert: Let Your Voice Be Heard For Zoning Reform

Written by Boston Biker on Jun 08

From Livable Streets:

The Senate is taking up a bill updating our zoning law for the first time in 40 years—and we need your voice to support it!

The Zoning Reform bill is the most important planning, housing, and land-use bill in years. This is a critical moment to ask for your Senator’s support! It takes just a moment.

Transportation and housing policies are intimately connected—good policies create more livable streets and communities for everyone.

Will you click here to tell your Senator to support this important bill? It takes just a minute.

To learn more about this bill and why it’s important, read on below or click here.

The Senate will vote this Thursday, June 9th, so now is the time to act.

Thank you for speaking up!

LivableStreets Alliance

Did you know?

Restrictive zoning is crippling our economy, health and environment. Economists estimate that restrictive zoning drives up housing prices in Greater Boston by nearly 20% and leads to a 20% decline in employment. Outdated zoning has cost our region at least 156,000 jobs.

We are building fewer than half of the homes our state needs annually to meet our current state-wide needs and prevent job loss to other states. Meanwhile, combined housing and transportation costs now eat up an average of 50% of family budgets.

At least 52% of Americans want to live in places where they do not have to use a car very often. People who live in walkable neighborhoods are twice as likely to get the exercise they need, reducing the risk of obesity and making our communities more livable.

Every day, thirteen acres of forests and farmland are lost to low-density sprawl caused by inefficient and outdated zoning, generating more traffic in addition to infrastructure costs that drain municipal budgets.

Here’s what this landmark bill does:

  • The bill will stimulate home & business development
  • Communities will increase “multi-family” zoning to build more of the homes we need.
  • Allowing homeowners to create “accessory dwelling units” on their property will enable them to create new housing for relatives or to generate rental income to help them stay in their home.
  • Special permits, which are a common approval process, would no longer require a supermajority vote.
  • Variance reforms will make it easier for property owners to make improvements.
  • Developers will have longer, more reasonable time periods to use their permits.
  • Reforming the appeals process will reduce frivolous lawsuits and lengthy court battles over development, saving time and money for local government, taxpayers, and developers.

Provides our cities and towns with the modern planning tools they need

  • Other states use a rational and predictable process to assess impact fees from development to offset the cost of infrastructure—our cities & towns should be able to do that too.
  • Local master plans will become easier and less costly to create.
  • Once a community has started to change its zoning, development rights should become protected only when an owner has more than an imprecise preliminary plan for the property.
  • Cities and towns can implement affordability requirements through inclusionary zoning.
  • Local planning and zoning board members will be able to access more training opportunities.

Preserves open space and discourages sprawl

  • Developers who want to cluster their development to conserve land will be able to do so.
  • Communities will be able to improve the design of unregulated roadside sprawl by establishing a minor subdivision ordinance.
  • Cities and towns will be able to “opt in” to additional tools and benefits if they meet state standards for compact housing and economic development while protecting open space and water quality.
  • Natural Resource Protection Zoning is a new tool to preserve large and important resource areas.

Promotes public health

  • Development project notices are required to be sent to local health boards.
  • Accessory dwelling units are a critical need for families who need to take care of older relatives or those with disabilities.
  • Easier master planning, required multi-family districts in smart growth locations, cluster by-right subdivision, and the opt-in program will all encourage communities to become more compact and walkable.
  • Reforming “Approval Not Required” subdivisions will help reduce the number of driveways that front on busy streets and improve public safety.

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Action Alert: Speak Up For A Safer Mass. Ave. June 15th

Written by Boston Biker on Jun 08

From Livable Streets:

Now is the time to speak up for a safer Massachusetts Ave!

Next Wednesday, June 15 the City of Boston is holding a community meeting to share proposed design improvements for Massachusetts Avenue from Beacon Street to Harrison Avenue.

This is a critical meeting. We’ve been waiting for this since the City first announced Mass Ave as a Vision Zero priority corridor last December.

The City’s goal is to use the feedback from this meeting to make safety improvements to Mass Ave this year.

Vision Zero Priority Corridor Mass Ave Public Meeting
June 15, 2016, 6pm – 7:30pm
@ Saint Cecilia Parish, 18 Belvidere St, Boston

We know that improving Mass Ave will save lives. Will you join us on June 15th?

This project is an important step in bringing the number of fatalities on our streets to zero and has the potential to be a model street for other safety improvements throughout Boston.

We’ll follow up with more details about the meeting early next week. In the meantime you can:

  1. Mark your calendar for June 15 and plan on attending the meeting.
  2. Share this email with your friends and neighbors and encourage them to join you.

Thank you for making our streets safer and more livable for everyone!

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Livable Streets March Update

Written by Boston Biker on Mar 09

Lots of good stuff From Livable Streets:


peak up for the Greenline Extension and Community Path

images.jpegSpeak up to remind MassDOT, the MBTA and the Governor that we need a fully functional Green Line Extension and the integrated Community Path project.

MassDOT and the MBTA have scheduled five public meetings to receive public input/suggestions on ways to reduce the cost of construction for these projects.

Construction of the Green Line Extension and Community Path will provide long needed air quality, public health, transportation and economic development improvements for our communities.


Attend ones of these meetings and remind MassDOT, the MBTA and the Governor that we need these very important projects:


Upcoming Public Meetings on the Green Line Extension
Meeting times:

Open House: 5:30pm – 6:30 pm
Presentation and Q&A: 6:30 pm – 8:00pm

  • March 2: Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Avenue – Somerville
  • March 23: Tufts University, 51 Winthrop Street – Medford
  • April 13: Argenziano School, 290 Washington Street – Somerville
  • April 27: St. Anthony’s Parish Hall, 400 Cardinal Medeiros Avenue – Cambridge
  • May 5th: St. Clement’s Parish Hall, 579 Boston Avenue – Medford

MBTA late night service cut, but fare increases still in play


We are disappointed to report that the MBTA Control Board voted 4-0 yesterday to cancel late night service. While this is an unfortunate development, we were inspired by the hundreds of impassioned advocates who packed the meeting room to speak up for better transit.

Next week the MBTA control board will vote on possible fare increases. We hope that they will seriously consider the overwhelming public support for keeping fare increases at or below 5% in their vote next Monday, March 7.

We will be there next week for this important vote and keep you up-to-date over the next few weeks as the Control Board considers cost saving measures for the Greenline extension.


New Emerald Network website launched!


Since launching the Emerald Network in September 2015, we’ve made strides toward achieving our vision of a 200-mile seamless network of greenways across Metro Boston.

To highlight this important initiative we’ve launched a brand new

On the new Emerald Network website you can:

  • Learn about the progress we’ve made and see some examples of in-progress and future project to complete the network

  • Apply for the Greenway Partners Program, to request capacity-building support to advance a proposed greenway project

  • Sign up to receive email updates specific to the Emerald Network

We hope you’ll take a few moments to learn more by exploring thewebsite!

LivableStreets and Vision Zero featured on PRI’s “The World”


LivableStreets’ Stacy Thompson hit the streets of Boston last week with Brendan Kearney of WalkBoston and PRI “The World” reporter Jason Margolis to talk about safety on our streets. At the corner of Mass Ave and Beacon Street the trio discussed the hurdles and hopes for Boston’s commitment to Vision Zero.

“What does Boston have to learn? It already is one of the safest major cities in the US. Still, you’re about three times more likely to be killed on the roads in Boston — walking, cycling or traveling in a car — than in Stockholm.”

Click here to hear how Stacy and Brendan answered this question and learn more about Sweden’s successful campaign to dramatically reduced traffic crashes.

I-90 Interchange project prompts bigger questions about connectivity and livability

10391835_10153512308923111_972039618001533192_n.jpgOn Sunday the Boston Globe highlighted the need to look toward the future and prioritize transit and broader connectivity for the proposed West Station – an important piece of the I-90 interchange project. The following evening Brookline residents packed a Transportation Board meeting to learn about the 1-90 project and how it might impact their community.

LivableStreets Advocacy Committee member Ari Ofsevit presented an alternative design to MassDot’s current proposal that prioritizes people, place-making and better options for walking, biking and transit. Many of the residents highlighted the need for better buses and better connections to Boston and Cambridge.

Given the enormous long-term impact of this project, we can’t agree more with the Globe, “it’s not too soon to decide what the basic purpose of West Station ought to be — a 21st-century multimodal transportation center, or just another commuter rail stop.”

MA Bike Safety Forum re-cap


The room was packed with people who care about making biking safer at Suffolk University last Tuesday night, as bicyclists gathered with legislators, policy makers, and stakeholders to talk about changing state laws to make cycling safer. Representatives from the trucking industry, Boston, Cambridge, the Carmen’s Union and the MBTA gave brief presentations followed by breakout sessions where ideas for possible legislation were presented.

LivableStreets’ Board members Steve Miller and Megan Ramey each led a break-out session engaging attendees in discussion around lowering speed limits and safe bicycle crossings. At the conclusion of the event attendees were asked to vote on their preferred solution for better bike safety.

Senator William Brownsberger posted the results of the survey on his website in “Bike Safety Forum Take Aways–?” and is requesting additional public input. You can comment on the event’s website


Join LivableStreets’ Advocacy Committee


LivableStreets Advocacy Committee is tracking more than 90 street projects in Metro Boston and we need your help! The group meets once monthly and consists of new and seasoned advocates working together to tackle issues big and small. Joining the Advocacy Committee is a great way to keep up to date on key projects and initiatives, learn from our volunteer advocates who’ve won dozens of campaigns (like bringing down the Casey Overpass, securing the new design for Comm Ave!) and share your ideas for better streets in your neighborhood.

Please contact [email protected] to learn more and get involved.

LivableStreets Alliance

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Livable Streets Ten In One Street Talk Is Soon

Written by Boston Biker on Nov 25

From Livable Streets:

Our 2015 StreetTalk 10-in-1 promises to be the biggest and best yet, and it’s taking place right in the heart of Boston at the Old South Meeting House. Building on the Meeting House’s long tradition of hosting spirited, thought-provoking discussions, the event will feature 10 short-form presentations highlighting innovative ideas to transform our streets.

10th Anniversary StreetTalk 10-in-1
Tue. December 9, 2015 6:00 – 8:30PM
@ Old South Meeting House
310 Washington St, Boston, MA 02108
Cost: $15 general admission; LivableStreets members get in for FREE

Over the years, our StreetTalk series has grown from a couple dozen people crowding into the LivableStreets office to a 230+ sold out crowd in 2014. Clearly when it comes to transportation in metro Boston, there is a hunger for new ideas! Join the conversation and register today!


Our full line up of 10-in-1 speakers will be announced soon here. Stay tuned for updates.

We hope to see you at the Old South Meeting House on December 9th!

LivableStreets Alliance

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October 25th 2-5PM “Reimagining Columbia Road” With Livable Streets

Written by Boston Biker on Oct 20

Livable Streets Alliance is hosting a workshop at Fairmount Innovation Lab in Uphams Corner. Come share your ideas for transforming the Columbia Road corridor into a more welcoming space for cyclists and pedestrians.

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Livable Streets Update

Written by Boston Biker on Oct 20

From Livable Streets:

We are excited to announce two opportunities – a StreetTalk featuring our Emerald Network Initiative and a limited time discount on some amazing bikes. See below to learn more!


Emerald_Network-logo.jpgStreetTalk: Connecting our Urban Greenways – Building the Emerald Network 

Our fall StreetTalk will explore what role the Emerald Network can play in not only increasing mobility options for people in the Metro area, but also tackling challenges like economic development, equity, climate change and public health in urban Boston. To learn more click here.

Event Details
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
5:30 – 6:30 pm   Emerald Networking Reception (cash bar)
6:30 – 8:00 pm   StreetTalk: Connecting our Urban Greenways

@ Boston Society of Architects
290 Congress St #200, Boston, MA 02210

Cost: $10 general admission; LivableStreets members get in for FREE

StreetTalks sell out quickly. What are you waiting for, register today!


photo credit: Kyle Ramey

Get a Gazelle and support LivableStreets in October

Our friends at Urban AdvenTours are selling a limited number of Royal Dutch Gazelle bikes. And in the month of October they are offering a $50 discount to anyone who mentions LivableStreets. They’ll also give LivableStreets $50 for every bike sold!

For more information or to purchase a Gazelle call Urban AdvenTours at (617) 670-0637 and be sure to mention LivableStreets!

These are sturdy, comfortable bikes made for every day riding in the city. They include built in lights, bells, a rear wheel lock …and happen to be LivableStreets orange! Swing by the LivableStreets office if you’d like to check one out before purchasing.

And don’t forget, this offer is only available during October – so get your Gazelle today!

StreetTalk2.jpgSave the date for our annual StreetTalk 10-in-1

Last, but certainly not least, we hope you’ll save the date forDecember 1, when we’ll hold our annual 10-in-1 StreetTalk.

We are planning an extra special 10-in-1 as part of our 10th Anniversary celebration and we hope you’ll join us. Look out for more details soon!

We hope to see you at our StreetTalk on November 3rd. Perhaps you’ll ride your brand new Gazelle there!
LivableStreets Alliance

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Public Meetings About Walking And Biking Paths

Written by Boston Biker on Sep 30

Join in these DCR sponsored meetings and let your voice be heard to support more walking and biking paths.


From Livable Streets:

Please join us for a series of public meetings where the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Emerald Necklace Conservancy will present and obtain feedback on options for improving safety and accessibility for all people walking, running, biking, and driving, at three key areas:

Perkins St and Parkman Dr – Perkins St Pedestrian Crossing Study
Thursday, October 1, 6:30 – 8:30pm
@ Arnold Arboretum Visitor Center, Hunnewell Bldg
125 Arborway, Boston

Centre St from the VFW Parkway to Murray Circle – Centre St Corridor Study
Wednesday, October 7, 6:30 – 8:30pm
@ Arnold Arboretum Visitor Center, Hunnewell Bldg
125 Arborway, Boston

The Arborway between Eliot St and South St, including Kelley and Murray Circles – Arborway Multi-modal Improvement Project
Wednesday, October 14, 6:30 – 8:30pm
@ Arnold Arboretum Visitor Center, Hunnewell Bldg
125 Arborway, Boston

This project is an important piece of the Emerald Network, a vision for 200 miles of seamless greenways across the urban core to create a 21st-century recreation and transportation system that is safe and convenient for all. To learn more about our initiativeclick here.

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Traffic Congestion: How To Fix It

Written by Boston Biker on Jul 27

Here is a great email I got from Liviable Streets


The statistics show that each of us is driving less.  So why do our roads feel more jammed up?  Why does it take longer to get anywhere?  And what can we do about it?  Some politicians have begun blaming Traffic Calming and bicycle lanes for the backups; saying that Complete Streets and pedestrian bulb-outs are making roads less safe because less accessible for emergency vehicles.  Is there any truth to this?  More fundamentally, is car congestion a problem to be solved or a solution to a problem?

A 2013 report from US PIRG showed that the average number of miles driven by the average American has been falling for about a decade, through economic booms and busts, and was down to mid-1990s levels.  Millennials, our nation’s largest-ever generational cohort, are using transit and bikes more and taking fewer and shorter car trips, resulting in a 23% drop in the average number of miles driven.  The percentage of high school seniors with a driver’s license fell 12%.  Walkable city life is increasingly attractive to both young people and retiring baby boomers.  The rise of on-line shopping, social media, and telecommuting has meant fewer quick car trips.

Despite these trends, as every driver knows, our roads are increasingly congested – not everywhere or all the time but for increasing periods at a growing number of key intersections and road segments.  Congestion radically reduces the volume of traffic passing through a road section, the through-put, thereby creating a negative feedback loop that creates more backups.   It’s estimated that USA drivers spend about 14.5 million hours every day stuck in traffic.  Congestion not only costs us time – in 2011 Boston drivers collectively lost about 137 million hours, or about 53 hours per commuter per year – but also fuel and therefore pollution, health, and money.  Not to mention frustration and occasionally murderous road rage.  Although we Bostonians believe we’ve got it worst, car congestion seems to be clogging roads like kudzu in nearly  every city in the country – and, by some reports, across the globe .

It’s true that a new report has said that the first four months of 2015 has set a new record in total vehicle miles in the US – up nearly 32 billion since the previous high in 2007, pushing gas consumption as well as prices upward. Lower gasoline prices and a recovering economy (consumer spending in May, 2015 had the highest month jump in six years) are two reasons for the jump, probably augmented by the continuing lack of viable alternatives to car driving for many people.  But a four-month blip is not enough to explain years of delays.

We do know some things that are contributing to the larger problem – land use patterns and population growth are the most important.  The low-rise dense designs that make older urban areas walkable and transit-efficient is illegal to build in many places today due to parking requirements, anti-mixed use and other zoning requirements, etc.

We know some things that may appear to be causative but actually aren’t – making roads safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, prioritizing bus and trolley traffic, even reducing the average speed of cars.

We know some things that (counterintuitively) do not help reduce congestion – most notably building more roads or adding lanes, all of which eventually fill up as our additional drivers decide to move into the new space.

And we know some things that do improve the situation, but usually only when they are applied as a group rather than singularly – improving road use efficiency using technology (signal timing, access controls, central monitoring) and other methods (car pools, HOV lanes, car sharing, perhaps driverless cars), increasing alternative options (transit both regional and downtown, bicycling), changing land-use patterns (Smart-Growth style transit-orientated development), requiring corporate and municipal  Transportation Demand Management programs (incentives to not drive alone or to not drive at all), and (most effective of all) congestion pricing of various kinds.

What is needed is the cultural and political willingness to accept this knowledge and act upon it – while also coming to grips with the reality that the continuing imbalance of potential drivers to current or any plausible future amounts of road space means that congestion is a permanent part of a car-based reality.

Read more »

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The Word On The Street

  • RSS Here is what people are saying

    • Michelle Wu’s Editorial on Biking in Boston July 22, 2016
      TweetThe Boston Globe recently published Boston City Council President Michelle Wu’s thoughts on improving bicyclist safety and promoting bike commuting in Boston by way of protected bike lanes.  It’s been passed around quite a bit in Boston cycling circles, but … Continue reading →
    • I Am Heading Out To The Corn! July 22, 2016
      TweetI am going to be doing my 5th (!) RAGBRAI next week. It’s going to be hot, and fun, try not to break anything while I am gone.   Read some past RAGBRAI stories here.
      Boston Biker
    • Newbury Street Closed To Car Traffic One Day Next Month July 22, 2016
      TweetIn an effort to make it more like downtown crossing Newbury Street will be closed to cars one day next month (Aug 7th). The city’s decision to shut down Newbury Street to vehicular traffic on Sunday, Aug. 7, is drawing … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Councillor Michelle Wu Wants Your Help To Find Places For Better Bike Lanes July 18, 2016
      TweetSo lets tell her!   From Facebook Need some crowd-sourcing help to move protected cycling infrastructure! Can we generate a list of all the road segments in Boston where there’s already a painted bike lane next to parked cars? i.e. … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • No Need To Imagine New Infrastructure, Just Copy What Works July 13, 2016
      TweetHere is something I would love to see here.
      Boston Biker
    • Babes Bike Boston 2! July 9, 2016
      TweetIts happening AGAIN. The Babes Bike Boston race is back! From Femmechanics: Femmechanics ( is hosting our 2nd annual alleycat next Saturday July 16th! BBB is an alleycat for FTW (femme and/or trans* and/or women) riders of all biking abilities, … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Awesome Ad Featuring Boston Bike Polo Players! July 9, 2016
      Tweet Let the Games Begin from Rule Boston Camera on Vimeo. If you have never watched or played bike polo you are missing out, lots of fun, one of the most fun things you can do.
      Boston Biker
    • Cambridge Fast Tracks Inman Square Redesign June 30, 2016
      TweetThe city of Cambridge has decided to fast track the redesign of Inman square after the recent death there. Sigh…seems the best way to get shitty infrastructure fixed is to have someone die in it. We saw the same thing … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Jeff Jacoby Is A Dirty Sleaze Bag Who Tries To Get Attention When Cyclists Die June 29, 2016
      TweetIt seems Jeff Jacoby, resident murderous goon at the Globe, likes to make stupid public statements after cyclists are killed to try and squeeze just a little more attention for himself and his horrific view points.  I wrote way back in … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Drunk Driver Gets 12 Years For Killing Cyclist In Dorchester June 29, 2016
      TweetIn a rare turn of events a motorist was actually sentenced to jail time for killing a cyclists. All it took was him being drunk and driving without a license.  Nothing will bring back young Fritz Philogene, but at least justice … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker