On Monday, March 22nd, the Cambridge City Council unanimously passed resolutions put forth by the City Manager to formally adopt VisionZero and Complete Streets policies! This is an important step for the City of Cambridge towards continuing their efforts to make streets safer for all, with a focus on vulnerable road users including people biking, walking or working in our roadways. We applaud them for their continued commitment to safety!
Vision Zero calls for the elimination of fatalities and serious injuries resulting from traffic crashes, and emphasizes that they can and should be prevented. One of the leading factors that impacts severity of injury and death is speed. The strategy is to focus on the the 6 E’s – Engineering, Education, Enforcement, Encouragement, Evaluation and Equity – some of which Cambridge has been doing for years. Cambridge has a history of traffic-calming on city streets and adopted a truck side guard policy almost a year ago, but even with all of their efforts to date, there is still work to be done to get to zero. Last March a woman on a bicycle was struck and killed in Cambridgeport, and in the last two months two people were hit and killed while crossing the street.
The City of Cambridge is officially the 17th city to adopt a Vision Zero policy, according to the Vision Zero Network. New York City was the first to adopt Vision Zero, in February of 2014; Boston formally adopted Vision Zero in March of 2014 and released an action plan outlaying their plan to move toward zero deaths in December. This is great progress for the region – next we challenge Brookline and the City of Somerville to follow suit, to continue to increase the safety of the region that so many of us bike through, crossing city lines daily. The Boston Cyclists Union will continue to work with the City of Boston’s Vision Zero Task Force and with other advocates on the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition to improve safety on our region’s streets and help move the dial towards zero.
George Ulrich of Roslindale, MA, devoted father and husband, passionate bicyclist, jazz musician, computer programmer, and dear friend to many, died February 23, 2016 at age 63 from a rare form of cancer.
George was born September 17, 1952 to Dr. Sanford and Saretta Ulrich, both deceased, most recently of Arizona. George grew up near Lansing, Michigan. He left high school just before graduating, embarking on a life of travel and music across the United States and beyond, hitchhiking and supporting himself by playing guitar and singing. He later regaled his family with amazing stories of his youthful adventures on the road.
After earning his GED, George attended Lansing Community College, Michigan State University, and ultimately Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging in 1981. He went on to attend the Cambridge School of Computer Programming, graduating in 1983. After teaching music in the Lincoln/Sudbury and Melrose Public Schools in the 1980s, he has worked since 1990 as a programmer for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure.
George was devoted to Judy Flam, his wife of 31 years, and was a wonderful father to Liza Ulrich, 27, of Jamaica Plain, and Zoe Ulrich, 22, of Roslindale. The family traveled together frequently and he often did tandem bicycle tours with Liza and downhill skiing with Zoe. They enjoyed movies, theatre and concerts together. His family and friends nursed George in his final months, and he was surrounded by Judy, Liza, and Zoe on his deathbed.
George is remembered for his kindness, gentleness, generosity, and depth of soul. He was eager to share his passions for cycling, music, and computers with everyone, and was a mentor to many in these endeavors. He showed deep respect for all he encountered, recognizing the value in everyone and engaging them on their own terms.
Bicycling was central to George’s life. He commuted by bike to work year-round for many years. He participated in a number of fundraising rides, including the Pan Mass Challenge (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute), Tour de Cure (American Diabetes Association), Boston to New York Aids Ride, Bike MS (National MS Society), the Boston Brain Tumor Ride, and the Bikes not Bombs Bike-a thon. He took other long-distance trips including the Tour de Montreal, Bike New York, and the Mad Dash to Montreal. After being diagnosed with cancer last summer, George rode in the annual Hub on Wheels ride in Boston in September, leading and supported by more than 30 cycling friends with “Team George.”
George was a tireless advocate for cycling in Boston, and was a co-founder of both the Boston Cyclists Union and Rozzie Bikes. He was an active member of Bikes not Bombs, Charles River Wheelmen, MassBike, and Boston Bike Party. He could be found at local farmers’ markets and public housing, providing free bicycle repairs.
Musically, after playing professionally in a number of bands for more than ten years, George continued to play informally with friends, and remained an avid jazz fan. As a programmer, George was always ready to share his knowledge of computers and technology, and did private computer consulting.
In addition to his wife and daughters, George is survived by his brother, William “Zip” Ulrich of Taylors, SC, as well as nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was predeceased by his sister, Gail Ulrich, of Shelburne Falls, MA.
More than 160 friends and relatives gathered with George for an evening of jazz, food, and friendship in January, when many were able to say goodbye. George’s family prefers to gather privately now, but a memorial will be arranged in the spring. Gifts in George’s memory may be made to Bikes Not Bombs (bikesnotbombs.org).
On February 11th bike traffic on the Longfellow Bridge switched to the sidewalk on the upstream side of the bridge. This new configuration allows for a car-free ride in both directions. However, navigating through Charles Circle on the Boston side, and under the bridge on the Cambridge side can be a little confusing for commuters. Check out the video below to see what it’s like.
The Bike Union and other advocates are continue to work with MassDOT to improve signage and markings at the ends of the bridge. Stay tuned for future updates on this Phase of the bridge.
Thanks to the letters and emails you sent to MassDOT over the past month we have won some key safety improvements for people biking over the Longfellow Bridge. While it’s not everything we asked for, conditions on the bridge have improved considerably thanks to the steps taken by MassDOT. There are now approximately 2 weeks left until the start of Phase 3, when cyclists will begin using the upstream side of the bridge, while vehicles and pedestrians continue to use the downstream side of the bridge.
Without the emails and letters you sent to MassDOT voicing your concerns, we would still be biking under the hazardous conditions present in early December. The biggest change that came about from your letters was the removal of the “pinch” at the base of the bridge on the Cambridge side. If you recall, at the beginning of December, jersey barriers were placed in the bike lane, dangerously narrowing the bridge and forcing cyclists to abruptly merge left, without any warning to drivers or cyclists (pictured below).
The “pinch” has since been removed, and the work being done behind those jersey barriers has been held off until after bike traffic is switched to the upstream side of the bridge. An email from MassDOT states : “The bike lane was closed and barriers placed at the Kendall Square approach to allow access to a manhole for signal and electrical work to activate the Red Line shoo-fly track. Remaining work will be postponed until after bike travel is shifted to the upstream side [Feb 1]. In the meantime, the concrete barriers have been placed against the MBTA reservation. The 2.5-foot wide barrels between the bike and vehicle travel lanes will be replaced with 1.5-foot wide cones, increasing the space available to bike travel.” The variable message sign on the approach to the bridge has also been reprogrammed to read “Yield to bikes”, and the signage and paint from previous phases is being removed to eliminate confusion for bridge users.
Unfortunately, MassDOT will continue to instruct outbound cyclists to walk their bikes on the sidewalk for the next two weeks, but with the start of Phase 3 on February 1st people biking over the bridge in either direction will be able to enjoy a vehicle and pedestrian free ride!
None of this would have happened if you hadn’t spoken up for safe biking on the Longfellow!
The current conditions on the Longfellow Bridge are unsafe and unacceptable for people on bikes. As you may know, the outbound bike lane was removed and cyclists are being asked to walk their bike on the sidewalk heading into Cambridge. The inbound lane was narrowed so that large vehicles cannot safely pass cyclists in the bike lane. Please see our letter to MassDOT, below, and send in your own! Tell your story of traveling on the Longfellow and tell MassDOT and your elected representatives that this is an untenable situation, and cyclist accommodations must be addressed!
Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack
Department of Transportation
10 Park Plaza, Suite 4160
Boston, MA 02116
CC: Representative Jay Livingstone
CC: Chris Osgood, Chief of Street, City of Boston
RE: Longfellow Bridge Modified Phase 2 Construction
On behalf of our members, the Boston Cyclists Union, the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition and LivableStreets Alliance would like to bring to your attention the increasingly hazardous conditions for people riding bicycles over the Longfellow Bridge, and we request that these hazards be addressed immediately.
Recently, due to the need to construct a temporary track for the Red Line, the inbound travel lane and bike lane have both been narrowed, and outbound cyclists no longer have a streetlevel contraflow bike lane and instead are being required to walk their bicycles on the sidewalk.
The current accommodations for the hundreds of people on bicycles* crossing the bridge daily are unacceptable to us and our members. The bike and travel lane widths heading inbound into Boston do not adequately provide a safe way for motorized vehicles to overtake people riding bicycles in the bike lane. Trolley buses, trucks and other large vehicles regularly travel in the bike lane, putting people riding bicycles at extreme risk of being sideswiped or struck from behind. Construction activities also routinely negatively impact the roadway condition with gravel and debris, and cones and markers are often moved into the path designated as the bike lane. (Please see the image attached below of current conditions heading inbound. Notice the bike lane is blocked by jersey barriers, forcing people riding bicycles into the travel lane.) Moreover, instructing outbound cyclists to walk their bikes on the sidewalk does not fulfill MassDOT’s promise to provide two way bike travel for the duration of the project.
From what we understand, this situation is temporary and twoway bicycle travel will switch to the upstream side of the bridge sometime early next year, but that does not make the current situation permissible to the hundreds of people biking over the Longfellow everyday. Moreover, we are concerned that the project will not follow the anticipated project schedule, and the current situation will persist throughout the winter. If that is the case, snow accumulation in the inbound bike lane will force people riding bikes into the travel lane with vehicular traffic, making an already dangerous situation even worse. We have provided a video, attached, demonstrating the approach of a trolley bus to a cyclist in the bike lane. Please note the bus’s right wheels overlapping with the bike lane, and the closeness during the pass.
We look forward to hearing how MassDOT plans to address these hazards.
Rebecca Wolfson, Interim Executive Director, Boston Cyclists Union Richard Fries, Executive Director, MassBike
Charlie Denison, Advocacy Committee Chair, LivableStreets Alliance
* On Tuesday, Dec. 8 the Boston Cyclists Union conducted a count of users on the Longfellow Bridge and observed 333 people riding bicycles and 713 motorized vehicles going inbound between 7:35 AM and 9:15 AM. The fact that people riding bicycles represent approximately 32% of the rushhour inbound vehicle traffic on the Longfellow Bridge demonstrate how important of a connection the bridge is for people riding bicycles between Cambridge and Boston.
Watch this VIDEO demonstrating unsafe riding conditions!
Please write to MassDOT at email@example.com and CC Jay.Livingstone@mahouse.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com so we can see that you’ve taken action and can help amplify your voice!
Today Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston released the Vision Zero Action Plan, and the accompanying website, as part of their ongoing commitment to eliminating traffic fatalities in Boston. This plan represents the culmination of years of work by the City, the Bike Union and others partners to draw attention to and take action on eliminating traffic fatalities.
The Bike Union would like to thank Mayor Walsh and the City for their leadership, and we look forward to continue to serve on the Vision Zero Task Force.
Check out the plan and website, including an interactive crash map that displays pedestrian, cyclists and motor vehicle crashes in the city over the past 15 months. Data collection and analysis like this will be integral in identifying and fixing dangerous corridors and intersections.
We’re particularly excited about a pilot Neighborhood Slow Streets program in the Talbot-Norfolk Triangle in Dorchester and the Stonybrook neighborhood in Jamaica Plain. Reducing vehicle speeds is a major step in saving lives and making Boston more bike friendly!
As you give thanks with friends and family, and treat yourself and your community this Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday, take a moment to reflect on what a great year 2015 has been for the bike community and biking in Boston, and help us finish the year stronger than ever.
From using the Western Ave cycletrack in Cambridge, to the beginning of construction of the Causeway St cycletrack and the finalization of the design for the Comm Ave cycletrack in Boston, 2015 has seen some major milestones for road safety and better infrastructure.
The Bike Union’s summer Bike to Market program fixed over 800 bikes, and taught bike repair skills to almost 500 people. In fact, the program has been so successful, we’re bringing it inside, year-round! However, this plan won’t be possible without your help. Donate to the Bike Union this holiday season, and your donation will go towards creating the first community bike shop in Roxbury!
Your donation will help us purchase bike stands, tools, and supplies to build shelves and storage, as well as fund programming in the space. Check out the design for the space below!
As always, we’re incredibly thankful for your support, now and year-round, and to share the bike community with such great two-wheeled comrades!
Cranksgiving is part scavenger hunt, part food drive, and part bike ride! It is a grassroots event that allows the Boston cycling community to give back to the neighborhoods we ride in and the city we love.
Navigate the streets of the Greater Boston area and the aisles of grocery stores searching for specific food items. Once you’ve found them and made your way through the checkout lines to the finish line, all of your food will be donated to the Greater Boston Food Bank, Red Cross, and the Somerville Homeless Coalition.
Registration begins at 1pm in Copley Square in front of Trinity Church. The ride begins at 2pm. The afterparty location is TBD. This event is free but you’ll need about $15 to buy food to donate to The Greater Boston Food Bank, Red Cross, and the Somerville Homeless Coalition.
The Boston Cyclists Union will host a bicycle Ride of Remembrance, to honor and remember those whose lives have been lost as victims of traffic violence. All riders should gather at Copley Square starting at 1pm, in front of Trinity Church. The group will depart promptly at 1:30pm. There will be a slow, ~4 mile ride from Copley to the Statehouse. At the culmination of the ride, there will be a vigil, led by bike activist and Reverend Laura Everett. All are welcome to join the ride or meet us at the Statehouse at 2:30pm for the vigil. All are encouraged to wear yellow in solidarity with the national movement, bring yellow flowers to leave at the statehouse, and/or something to read if you are moved.
In the wake of a series of tragic and preventable crashes, injuries, and fatalities on our roadways, it is more important than ever to shift the priority of transportation policies and projects from speed to safety. The City of Boston has adopted Vision Zero, a policy that seeks to eliminate traffic fatalities, and we are looking to the State and other municipalities in the region to be a leader in adopting Vision Zero.
It’s been a wonderfully hot summer filled with many things bike advocacy. It’s that time of year to bring summer to a close and gear up for the fall with a great celebration of the Boston Cyclists Union’s work this year and what is to come! There are a lot of exciting things happening at the Bike Union. Come celebrate with us to learn all about it.
This event is all-ages (ID required for beer & wine).
To gain entry you simply have to join the Union, and be a member of the organization that is changing not just Boston, but setting examples for all of New England. Joining is easy! You can become a member on our website, join by buying a ticket on Eventbrite, or join at the door.
This event may sell out! Even if you are already a member, tickets are recommended.
PLUS – You could win a Bicycle, solar powered bike lights, gift cards, and so much more!
FOOD & DRINK!
Cambridge Brewing Company
Downeast Cider House
Aeronaut Brewing Company
Percival Beer Company
Lärabar and many others will be supplying the delicious food!
RAFFLE and SILENT AUCTION!
There are several amazing raffle prizes…
Climate Store Solar Powered Bike Lights
(2) $50 gift cards from Ashmont Cycles
Silent Auction items from Life Alive, Wholes foods, Bikabout and much more!
SPONSORS – A HUGE THANK YOU TO:
Cambridge Brewing Co.
Downeast Cider Company
Perceval Brewing Company
and more to come!