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Federal Transportation Bill A Disappointment

Written by Boston Biker on Jul 13

A sad sad commentary on just how fucked our political system is these days. I suggest a careful review of the issues, who voted for what, and some judicious application of your first amendment right, as well as your right to vote. These fuckers need to know we are pissed.


From MassBike


The federal transportation bill, a focus of much analysis and anxiety (we’ve written most recently about it here and here), was finally passed through congress late last week. It’s not good news. This bill, which was largely based on the Senate’s legislation “MAP-21″, is being considered a “step backwards,” a “failure,” a “missed opportunity,” and “devastating.”

On our part, we kept in communication with the staff of Representative Ed Markey (Massachusetts Seventh District), a member of the committee that produced this legislation. Mr. Markey, who has consistently supported dedicated bike funding, wrote an excellent piece on why he declined to sign the Conference Committee Report for the legislation (found here). Despite strong bipartisan support for our cause from the entire Massachusetts delegation, this legislation cut bike and pedestrian funding by 33% (or more, depending what individual states do – more below).

The Analysis


Our national partners are still working through all of the details of the 1,676 page document, but basically it lumps the three federal programs which previously had dedicated bike/ped funding (Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails) into one “Transportation Alternatives” category. Whereas the three prior programs had a combined funding total of $1.2 billion in 2011, the new “Transportation Alternatives” has a total funding level of around $800 million per year.

Furthermore, states can opt out of up to half of that amount, instead funding highway maintenance, bridge repair, or any other transportation need. So, depending on how many states choose to opt out of that half of the funding, the real cuts could be as high as 66%.

Finally, there is a clause in the bill called a “Mandatory Sidepath Law.” This would require bicyclists riding on federally-owned roads (generally in national parks) to ride on a sidepath if the road doesn’t meet certain standards. This clause sets a dangerous national precedent for compromising our hard-won right to the road.

In short, this is not a good day for the biking/walking world. Read a thorough analysis of the bill by America Bikes here.

Next Steps


The question, then, is what does this mean for us in Massachusetts? We are fortunate to be in a state that has solid policies and initiatives in place to promote biking and walking, includingGreenDOT (MassDOT’s sustainability policy) and the Healthy Transportation Compact.

Nonetheless, we must work even harder to ensure that biking and walking are priorities for our state agencies and policymakers. Because so much flexibility is now given to the state to spend bicycle funding on other things, groups like MassBike must work even harder to make the case that investing in biking is crucial to having a healthy, livable state. It is through continued efforts like Bay State Bike Week, the Bike/Walk Summit, and advocacy on major projects that we can maintain the state’s support. And, importantly, collaborative efforts likeTransportation for Massachusetts will be key to creating a united voice for our cause.

If you have time, please contact your U.S. Representative and Senators to let them know that you appreciate their support. (Don’t know who they are? Find out here.)

Also, consider joining or donating to MassBike. We are supported primarily through our members, and so truly could not do it without you.

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NPR Tackles Transportation Bill And Cycling

Written by Boston Biker on Feb 09

We have talked about this several times here before, but here is an awesome break down of the transportation bill and what it has to do with bicycling.

Part 1, Part 2.

Link to show here.

Thanks Rebecca for the tip.

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Patrick Rolls Out New Transportation Plan

Written by Boston Biker on Feb 20

Seems like now might be a good time to get a bike, not only because it is RAD, but because it will help you escape a good amount of new taxes! Bikes for the win!

More info here.

Full presser below…


February 20, 2009 Becky Deusser
Kim Haberlin
Colin Durrant (EOT)


Plan Reforms Big-Dig Culture, Rebuilds Trust and Transparency to Help
Secure the Commonwealth’s Economic Future

BOSTON – Friday, February 20, 2009 – Governor Deval Patrick today announced his
vision for a comprehensive reform plan to radically simplify the Commonwealth’s
transportation system, while addressing serious fiscal challenges stemming from
decades of neglect and inaction, and a failed bureaucracy under the “Big Dig” culture.

Governor Patrick’s Transportation and Economic Security Plan incorporates
recommendations from the Transportation Finance Commission Report that uncovered
decades of inaction and neglect under previous administrations. After receiving this
report in 2007, Governor Patrick started to develop a plan to secure the

Commonwealth’s economic future and maintain safety of the state’s roads and bridges.
The Transportation and Economic Security Plan, which builds on innovative reforms
proposed by Senate President Therese Murray, follows an aggressive two-year reform
effort led by the Patrick Administration that has saved taxpayers $83 million in savings
and efficiencies throughout the transportation bureaucracy.

“The days of irresponsibility, of avoiding the truth and the consequences, must end and
end now. We are all out of time. Now is the time to reform, rebuild and renew our
system from top to bottom,” said Governor Patrick. “The good news is that right now, we
have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to coordinate federal stimulus funds, state
capital money, our accelerated bridge program, and the reforms in the Transportation and Economic Security Plan to make our roads and bridges safer, grow jobs, and build
a strong economic future.”

Reforming the Big Dig Culture
The Commonwealth’s transportation system faces an estimated $15 to $19 billion
funding gap in the next 20 years to maintain the current network of roads, bridges and
transit for safe, reliable service. A 2007 report issued by the Transportation Finance
Commission stated: “The cost of this neglect will be felt in our regional economy and in
our way of life. … Business as usual will not suffice.”
Crushing debt and substandard management from the Big Dig has siphoned muchneeded
dollars away from maintenance and operations, and fed a culture of out-of-scale
benefits, inefficiencies and a lack of accountability.

Under Governor Patrick’s leadership, the transportation agencies and authorities have
generated more than $83 million in savings and efficiencies through transportation
reform efforts, while working on a long-term reform plan.

Those reforms include:
• Joining 49 other states in using civilian flaggers on construction projects
• Streamlining project delivery time at MassHighway by 40%
• Saving $47 million at the MBTA by reducing overtime costs and staff levels and
increasing employee health care contributions.
• Saving $31 million at the Turnpike by eliminating middle management and toll
• With the legislature’s support, launching the Accelerated Bridge Repair Program
to address the backlog of maintenance projects left by previous administrations

Patrick Reform Plan: A Unified Transportation Agency
In spite of these efforts, it is necessary to implement reforms that radically simplify the
current system to build a modern transportation network that is adequately funded and
professionally managed to help secure our economic future.

Governor Patrick and his transportation team, led by Transportation Secretary James A.
Aloisi Jr., have put forward a comprehensive reorganization plan that builds a unified
and transparent transportation system through the following reforms:
• Creates a consolidated Executive Office of Transportation with four Divisions:
Highway, Rail & Transit, Aviation & Port, and Registry of Motor Vehicles
• Abolishes the Turnpike Authority and create one highway, tunnel, and bridge
• Consolidates state aviation assets
• Creates an Office of Performance Management to ensure public accountability
and transparency
• Enacts all Transportation Finance Commission Reform (TFC)
Recommendations, including creation of a Private Project Ombudsman to
streamline project development, which could save $2.5 billion over 20 years
Renewing Investments to Secure Economic Future
In addition to simplifying the system, the Commonwealth must address significant longterm
financial challenges throughout its transportation agencies and authorities. The
Transportation and Economic Security Plan will help pay down debt and make sound,
sustainable investments to fix crumbling roads and bridges and secure the state’s
economic future. The plan includes the following reforms:
• Restructuring and simplifying our transportation bureaucracy, including
abolishing the Turnpike Authority
• Ending the “23 and out” special perk in the MBTA pension system
• Bringing the Turnpike and MBTA employees into the state health care system
• Increasing accountability and transparency throughout the transportation system
• Making our transportation system more environmentally-responsible
• Streamlining operations and eliminating 300 positions
• Working to move MassHighway personnel off the capital budget and back onto
the regular payroll
• Increasing the state fuel tax to pay down debt and avoid toll and fare increases,
while exploring innovative solutions to start phasing out the fuel tax, such as
using a pilot GPS-based technology to collect fees electronically.
The plan proposes a fuel tax increase of 19 cents – approximately $8 per month for
most drivers. Future increases would follow the Consumer Price Index (an essential
component that the state failed to do last time). The gas tax has not been increased
since 1991. The Governor said he will not support an increase in the gas tax without
several other restructurings and reforms outlined in his plan.
The plan is transparent and accountable on the new revenue from the gas tax,
accounting for and dedicating each new penny to a specific transportation initiative:
• 4 cents to roll back the proposed toll increases on the Turnpike
• 6 cents to preserve current MBTA services and prevent a fare increase
• 1 cent for Innovative Gas and Toll Solutions
• 1.5 cents for Regional Transit Authorities
• 1.5 cents for targeted regional road projects
• 3 cents for rail projects outside of Boston
• 2 cents to address the costly practice of paying for personnel with bond funds

“Raising the gas tax is a last resort, and without it, our economy will suffer,” said
Governor Patrick. “Our long-term job growth and economic security, along with the
safety of our roads and bridges, depends upon both major reforms and new revenue

“We must act immediately to free our transportation system from the stranglehold of
debt so we can finally make the long-awaited investments necessary to improve service
and reliability,” said Secretary Aloisi. “Our goal is to build an open and accountable
transportation agency for future generations that supports economic growth, regional
equity and responsible environmental stewardship.”

Creating a “Greener” Transportation System
The transportation sector is the largest and fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas
emissions in the region. The Transportation and Economic Security Plan will make the
state’s transportation system more environmentally responsible through “Green”
initiatives that encourage more fuel-efficient vehicles and “Buy and Build Green”

These initiatives will encourage environmentally responsible practices and give people
the opportunity to drive less with increased access to transit, bicycling and walking:
• Unprecedented public transportation investments outside of Greater Boston
• Mandates Massport to participate in public transportation initiatives serving its
• Authorizes a “green car” sliding scale for new automobile registration fees
• Adopts and implements “Buy Green” and “Build Green” provisions
• Authorizes “Complete Streets” Initiative to encourage bicycling and walking

Encouraging Civic Engagement
Keeping to Governor Patrick’s commitment to transparency and encouraging civic
engagement, additional information is posted online at the Executive Office of
Transportation’s You Move Massachusetts website at
The website will allow residents to download and view documents, submit comments
and track progress of the reform plan through a new blog and updates from Secretary
Aloisi and transportation officials.

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The Word On The Street

  • RSS Here is what people are saying

    • Do You Want Protected Bike Lanes On The Longfellow? April 13, 2018
      TweetFrom Cambridge Bike Safety: The Longfellow Bridge, a critical bike connector to Boston, is going to be restriped and reopened in May. You may be surprised to learn that in the final design, the inbound bike lane will be similar … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • #30DaysofBiking Day 7 April 7, 2018
      TweetThis is better! A sunny, somewhat cool spring day. Me on my bike, my daughter on a trail-a-bike, and my son on his bike. We rode down the Southwest Corridor, stopped at Ula Cafe for lunch, rode over by Jamaica … Continue reading →
    • Riding Lexington Street, Waltham, July 4, 2015 April 7, 2018
      TweetIt should be noted that bike lanes have been installed on much of the stretch of Lexington Street shown in the videos. Videos showing the new conditions are in preparation. Two videos, for now: A demonstration of lane control in … Continue reading →
    • Riding Lexington Street, Waltham, July 4, 2015 April 7, 2018
      TweetIt shoudl be noted that bike lanes have been installed on much of the stretch of Lexington Street shown in the videos. Videos showing the new conditions are in preparation. Two videos, for now: A demonstration of lane control in … Continue reading →
    • #30DaysofBiking Days 3,4,5, and 6 April 6, 2018
      TweetIt’s been cold, rainy, windy, and I’m not sleeping well. These days of biking are short rides on Hubway to get from here to there, head down, and shivering. This is not the joyous Days of Biking I signed up … Continue reading →
    • #30DaysofBiking Day 2 April 3, 2018
      Tweet Easter Monday.  The first work day of April.  Today is the day I’m going to start riding my bike to work again! Or not.  Because it’s snowing.  And I’m tired and lazy. But every bit of biking counts no … Continue reading →
    • #30DaysofBiking Day 1 April 2, 2018
      TweetI didn’t think I was going to go for a bike ride on Easter Sunday.  As tends to be my habit, I ride less and less in the winter time and then find it hard to get back into the … Continue reading →
    • Police Seek Driver Who Struck Cyclist In Hit And Run March 23, 2018
      Tweet Cambridge police are asking for the public’s help in finding a driver who allegedly struck a 14-year-old boy on the morning of March 15 and fled the scene. A silver Toyota Prius struck the boy around 7:22 a.m. that … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Pewter Cast “Gem” Earrings March 9, 2018
      Carved, cast and made these pewter (lead free) “gem” earrings.  They have a lovely faceted surface that catches the light and has a lot of depth and interesting texture.  My first real effort at making my own beads.  If you lik... Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Silver “Rock” Earrings March 9, 2018
        I carved and cast these silver “rock” earrings for my partner. The hardest part was getting those little jump rings soldered to the top of the “rock” without melting them or the rock…but I did it and she loved them. Continue reading →
      Boston Biker