After a busy summer MassBike will leap into Fall with a host of new endeavors. Fall is a unique time when a tide of students flood back into the Bay State like a colorful cranberry harvest. While students return to classes, MassBike has launched a redesign of its educational offerings called MassBike University, or MassBikeU. With a wide variety of on and off the bike classes taught by MassBike staff, professional athletes, and experts in their chosen fields, MassBikeU allows all cyclists ranging from beginners to advanced to explore the diverse elements of bikes.
Want to manage urban traffic? We can teach you.
Want to pedal off pounds? We can teach you.
Want to ride cyclo-cross? We can teach you.
Want to build a bike path? We can teach you.
We will cover everything ranging from commuting to athletics, history to health. All will be part of this broad spectrum of offerings from MassBikeU.
Through this program, MassBike will be able to provide affordable educational programs to individuals, groups, and communities across the state, addressing many of the issues that tie into cycling, beyond just what you need to know to hop on a bike. In addition to our “basic biking” classes, our feature class of the fall semester will be a “Bike ‘n’ Brunch” cooking class taught by Skratch Labs’ Tour de France cooks Allen Lim, Biju Thomas, and Lentine Zahler, focusing on women’s health and nutrition, a topic often not discussed but crucial for a female athlete’s success and wellbeing. Female cyclists of varying degrees of ability can gain positive benefits from this course, and MassBikeU seeks to address many other underserved topics in the courses offered.
In addition to planning for the MassBikeU launch and our fall curriculum, we have also been working closely with other alternative transportation non-profits, developing a cohesive, unified media strategy to help bring together the voices of many of the great advocacy groups in the state, working towards having better, safer facilities for non-motor vehicle transportation. This concept became increasingly important with the latest cycling fatality in Boston this past month with the death of the young Swiss medical researcher, Anita Kurmann, killed by an errant truck driver.
From these discussions came plans to develop and create a shared, non-profit workspace to encourage collaboration of resources and ideas upstairs, but also offering a cafe and bike shop at street level where bicycle commuters are welcomed.
We also worked on “PARKing Day” in Cambridge, where the city hosts various groups in taking more than 40 parking spots and convert them into something else for the day! The mission is to call attention to the need for more urban open space and be part of a greater international movement to improve the human habitat. We used our space to create bike racks out of recycled materials! More bike parking leads to more access and use of these shared public spaces.
This summer has been one of taking action on long-laid plans. It’s safe to say that the fall will keep us busy with our educational efforts, and more!
Amidst the excitement and positivity of National Bike Month in May, Massachusetts received high accolades from the League of American Bicyclists through their Bike Friendly State Rankings, jumping up from number ten to number four this year. This ranking is a tremendous recognition of the collective efforts across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. MassBike aims to keep this momentum going with our projects for next quarter, moving towards that number one slot in the nation.
We have continued our work to implement policies and support new infrastructure within the framework of Complete Streets. Our programs team has been in the field, performing transit assessments and hosting educational programs in underserved areas such as Roxbury, Medford, Dorchester, Lowell and Revere. Working with municipal stakeholders and endorsing projects such as bike lanes, cycle tracks and paths, we have seen real, positive change in some of these neighborhoods that need it the most. By connecting public transit access to bicycle routes, we can help to spur economic growth and development in these areas. We’ve also added bilingual staff and educational materials to these programs to ensure all communities have access to cycling safety education.
Our recent bike assessment in Roxbury engaged the youth community in a new way, where local kids could get involved in the development of their own neighborhood. Through working with the Madison Park Development Corporation, a community development group which supports a Roxbury after school program, kids age 14-16 were able to help us look at the current roadway conditions and assist with the preliminary planning of short and long term recommendations to improve the cycling environment. During the assessment, 14-year olds discuss traffic calming measures, give a cultural history of Roxbury, and become truly engaged and empowered to make positive change in their local infrastructure. We were thrilled to be able to give them an opportunity and a platform to work together with municipal stakeholders.
Working with the Boston Alliance for Community Health, we have provided fiscal sponsorship to launch the Bowdoin Bicycle School, a vocational program and bike shop established in Roxbury, where the lack of basic mechanical support prevents people from using bicycles. MassBike is providing its professional expertise and administrative architecture to enable this bold initiative to take flight.
In addition to our community efforts surrounding roadway facilities, we have also expanded our bike valet services, partnering with events around the Greater Boston area. Working with the Boston Red Sox to provide ample bike parking to soften its neighborhood impact, MassBike now offers free bike valet for all ticket holders at every home game throughout the season at Fenway Park. By offering parking services for bicyclists at a major venue like Fenway, it gives the bike community a feeling of belonging and a sense of normalcy. It encourages baseball fans to seek alternative modes of transportation to get to the park by making it easier for them once they arrive, all the while alleviating traffic, too! The more facilities we can provide to encourage new ridership, the better off we will be as a community. The bike valet also opens an opportunity for fruitful discussion with local riders and more engagement with the community. Additional bike valet service has been provided to Cambridge's Riverfest, a private fund raiser at Trade Boston, and the Best Buddies Challenge: Hyannis Port.
Massachusetts has seen a 75% increase in bicycling over the last few years. Our work seeks to integrate bicycles into the transportation systems conversation and legislation to help address the concerns and challenges that cyclists face day to day. We are striving to address the lack of dedicated on-road bike facilities, trails and bike parking for cyclists. Work in small rural communities, suburban areas and denser urban centers.
Last week the 2015 National Bike Summit brought together over 650 bicyclists in Washington, D.C. including delegates from MassBike. We were able to send MassBike Programs Director, Barbara Jacobson, who obtained valuable take-aways pertaining to closing equity gaps in accessibility to bikes and bicycling in areas that have a disportionate representation in the current streetscape . The focus in the coming months will be working on equity gaps, and expanding programs and initiatives around the state.
Working with local advocates and stakeholders in Mattapan, Roxbury and Dorchester, we helped establish a network of advocates in areas of the City of Boston that are underrepresented in the biking realm. MassBike is providing technical assistance in the short-term. This relationship-building helps to build local capacity for the long-term.
Additionally, we worked with the City of Palmer to connect bikeability and infrastructure enhancements within a city-wide community garden ordinance. By drawing the connection between bicycling and land use, there is an opportunity to reach different stakeholders and connect healthy modes of transportation with access to healthy, locally grown foods. The biking and community garden initiative in Palmer brings in a variety of different stakeholders including economic development, the department of public works, city planners and local community stakeholders and residents.
In a partnership with the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood of Dorchester, Massbike assisted in designing a plan for a permanent bike shop and educational center in the neighborhood. MassBike established the relationship with local, inner-city advocates and is continuing to work to bring other stakeholders to the table including community development corporations, local business owners and main streets organizations. The goal is to expand access to bicycling to stakeholders in the economic realm in order to connect bicycling with increases in economic and social capital in the neighborhood.
In all of these areas and more, MassBike presented a Complete Streets policy as a strategy for improving the roadways for all transit users. Projects such as these will lead to better education for cyclists, a better environment, and healthier communities. By supporting these initiatives, it will bring continued, positive change throughout Massachusetts.
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