New energy and success...but much more work to do!
By Lauren LeClaire | Communications Coordintor
MassBike moves by bike to a new shared office!
MassBike leapt into the new year with excitement, energy, and momentum. Thanks to the efforts and generosity of our supporters we were able to make the jump to be the first tenant of a new transportation hub at the Cambridge Innovation Center, a co-working space in downtown Boston. Led by MassBike, this hub will showcase the collaborative spirit of local transportation advocacy groups and facilitate new projects and relationships with a diverse array of partners.
One of these projects will be to focus on the formation of chapters of MassBike. As we continue to grow, we hope to enlist local advocates in key communities across the state to help with on the ground efforts as well as contributing to our Project 351 goal of having a complete database of resources for every community in Massachusetts. Through a strong team across the state, we can begin to replicate the changes and improvements that are occurring in the greater Boston area.
A crucial part of the initiative will focus on Vision Zero, a global movement that strives to reduce traffic deaths to zero. MassBike, along with the other members of the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition, continues to work together to improve Massachusetts roadways for all users including bicycles, pedestrians, and transit users. MassBike works within the Vision Zero framework pairing this with Complete Streets design and funding opportunities for communities throughout the state of Massachusetts to make our roadways safer.
Through recent legislative work, MassBike worked towards the goal of Vision Zero with a package of bills critical to both bicyclists and pedestrians. MassBike took the lead in organizing State House testimony to support passage of key bills such as the Vulnerable Road Users bill and the Bike Lane Protection bill. MassBike is still working through the legislative process to ensure passage of those key bills during this legislative session.
With the colder months of the year upon us in New England - a time some may think would slow bicyclists down - advocacy groups like MassBike are busy planning. The year 2016 promises to bring continued growth and change to Massachusetts roadways. Our efforts on Beacon Hill have progressed and we will see four bills brought before our lawmakers to improve roadway safety for all users. These crucial bills will be a leap forward towards gaining a share of the mind of drivers, in addition to a share of the road.
In tangent to our legislative work over the last few months, MassBike served as an anchor member in the formation of the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition. This group of nearly a dozen nonprofits and community groups came together to partner with the City of Boston to work towards eliminating all traffic fatalities. The first major act of the coalition was to participate in the international event, World Remembrance Day on November 15. After a somber ride through downtown Boston, more than 60 people gathered on the steps of the Massachusetts State House in a ceremony to mark the needless loss of more than 150 lives to date on Massachusetts roadways this year. This ceremony received substantial local media coverage along with considerable social media attention confirming that a unified voice will make a larger impact.
On the heels of that effort, MassBike took the lead in the creation and planning of a collaborative, shared workspace that will position this larger group in an invigorating environment alongside of other mission-driven nonprofits. Sharing resources and collaborating effectively will create a platform to advance MassBike’s mission. MassBike expects to lead the way in creating this collaborative workspace in March of 2016. Such a move will position us at the vanguard of transportation advocacy nationwide. Nowhere else is there such a political powerhouse in the promotion of active transportation. As we’ve found through the Vision Zero Coalition, our collective voice will generate a more significant impact on policy and infrastructure improvements.
In a related partnership with our ongoing work with the Bowdoin Bike School, MassBike staff assisted with a “Light Up the Night” event on Halloween where lights were installed on bikes for people who do not have them. Often, there are neighborhoods that exist in “bike shop deserts” where access to basic safety equipment is limited or non-existent. This kind of event is one we would like to support annually and continue to grow.
The event concept arose from the seasonal changes of reduced daylight. By increasing the visibility of bicyclists, inherently it improves the perceptions of bicyclists. Sometimes, lights can be too expensive and a secondary purchase, not considered “necessary”. However, lights on bicycles are essential components of safety and visibility for all road users: bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists.
2015 has been a year of growing relationships and fostering collaborative efforts to strengthen our voice in the community!
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!
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