Help Us Pass the Boston Bike Budget!

The City of Boston has made real progress toward changing its official policies to make riding a bike in the city easier and safer, but changes to our physical infrastructure have been slower. For many people who bike in Boston today — or would if it were safer — there has not been enough progress on the ground. The City’s Transportation Department is doing what it can, but insufficient staffing and resources are holding us back.

That’s why we’re asking Mayor Walsh to increase funding for safer streets in his FY18 Budget. 

In 2016, Boston allocated just $3.1 million for its Vision Zero Action Plan. That’s less than $5 per capita per year towards ending traffic deaths in our city. Meanwhile, New York City has dedicated approximately $13 per capita and San Francisco about $75. Boston is trailing behind cities that have been aggressive about building safe, protected bike infrastructure.

If Boston is going to end traffic fatalities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and make our city more livable, we need a drastic increase in the city’s funding for safe, protected bike infrastructure.

Our proposal — the Boston Bike Budget

  • Increase the capital budget for Vision Zero from $3.1 million in FY17 to $12 million in FY18.
  • Increase the capital budget for the Strategic Bicycle Network Project from $900,000 in FY17 to $4 million in FY18.
  • Increase the capital budget for Transportation Planning from $200,000 in FY17 to $800,000 in FY18.
  • Increase the operating budget for Transportation Department Policy and Planning from $1,074,431 in FY17 to $2 million in FY18.

Take Action: Help Us Pass the Boston Bike Budget

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Send a personalized email (template below) to Mayor Walsh asking him to include the Boston Bike Budget in his budget this year, and forward the email to your local district city councilor and the four at-large (city-wide) councilors. Contact info is below. If you can, print out your letter, sign it, and mail it to the Mayor and councilors with a personal note asking for their support.
  2. Call Mayor Walsh’s office at 617-635-4500 and ask him to include the Boston Bike Budget in his budget this year, and call your local district city councilor and the four at-large (city-wide) councilors to ask them to support it. Below is a script, and their contact info.
  3. Call, text, or email your friends, family members, or co-workers and ask them to email and call the Mayor and their city councilors, and post of social media. Here’s a sample message: “I just asked Mayor Walsh and the Boston City Council to support safe, protected bike infrastructure in the city’s budget. Join me in asking them to fund making biking safer and easier! http://bostoncyclistsunion.org/advocacy-campaigns/bikebudget/
  4. Stay tuned for information on meetings with each city councilor that we’ll be setting up this spring!

Click here to find out who your Boston City Councilor is (and get contact info).


Email Script

Below is a template for emails to Mayor Walsh. Please personalize it and add your own information. The more personal details, the more effective the letter will be. Don’t forget to forward it to your your local district city councilor and the four at-large (city-wide) councilors with a brief note asking them to support the Boston Bike Budget. Thanks!

To:

Mayor@boston.gov

CC:

daniel.koh@boston.gov, joyce.linehan@boston.gov, budget@boston.gov, a&f@boston.gov, chris.osgood@boston.gov, gina.fiandaca@boston.gov, btd@boston.gov, info@bostoncyclistsunion.org

Dear Mayor Walsh,

As a resident of [YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD] who bikes [OR who would bike in Boston if it were safer], I’m writing to ask you to include the Boston Cyclists Union’s Bike Budget in your FY18 budget.

The City of Boston has made real progress toward changing its official policies to make riding a bike in the city easier and safer, but changes to our physical infrastructure have been slower.

This year, Boston allocated just $3.1 million for its Vision Zero Action Plan. That’s less than $5 per capita per year towards ending traffic deaths in our city. Meanwhile, New York City has dedicated approximately $13 per capita and San Francisco about $75.

If Boston is going to end traffic fatalities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and make our city more livable, we need a drastic increase in the city’s funding for safe, protected bike infrastructure.

I hope you will include the Boston Bike Budget in your FY18 budget and help make Boston safe and friendly for people riding bikes.

Sincerely,


Call Script

Below is a script for calls to Mayor Walsh and City Councilors.

Hi,

I live in [YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD] and I’m calling to ask Mayor Walsh to include the Boston Cyclists Union’s Boston Bike Budget in his budget.

[SAY SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE RIDING A BIKE IN BOSTON]

If Boston is going to end traffic fatalities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and make our city more livable, we need a drastic increase in the city’s funding for safe, protected bike infrastructure.

With our proposed Boston Bike Budget, we could build more than a dozen miles of protected bike lanes each year. Today, 2% of Bostonians regularly bike to work, and with just 2% of the City’s $898 million streets budget, we could make major strides towards allowing people of all ages and abilities to bike safely in every neighborhood of Boston.

I hope the Mayor will include the Boston Bike Budget in his FY18 budget and help make Boston safe and friendly for people riding bikes.

Thank you.

If asked for details on which budget line items you are calling about:

  • Increase the capital budget for Vision Zero from $3.1 million in FY17 to $12 million in FY18.
  • Increase the capital budget for the Strategic Bicycle Network Project from $900,000 in FY17 to $4 million in FY18.
  • Increase the capital budget for Transportation Planning from $200,000 in FY17 to $800,000 in FY18.
  • Increase the operating budget for Transportation Department Policy and Planning from $1,074,431 in FY17 to $2 million in FY18.

Take this 2-second advocacy action to help win more funding for bike projects!

Today is the last day for submitting comments for MassDOT’s Capital Investment Plan for FY 2018-2022!

Please go to this link and paste the information below into the field titled “Please enter comment (2500 character limit)(required)”

The form will also require you to enter an address that relates to this comment. You can enter the address of MassDOT headquarters:

10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116 

The deadline is 5 PM TONIGHT, so do it right now! It will only take 2 seconds!

Here is the text to paste:

First, I’d like to thank MassDOT for funding projects that make biking as a means of transportation safer and easier. Projects like the Beacon Street Reconstruction (Project ID: 607209) in Somerville, which includes separated bike lanes, will dramatically improve safety for people biking, and I hope to see more projects like this included in the FY 2018-2022 CIP.

I encourage MassDOT to fund more projects that make biking safer and easier, including but not limited to the proposed projects listed below. (These projects are NOT listed in order of importance.)

  • Design and construction of 3 pedestrian/bike underpasses on the Boston-side of the River St, Western Ave and Anderson bridges (Project ID: 1420)
  • Design and construction of a new pedestrian/bike footbridge over the MA Turnpike in Allston (Project IDs: 1421 and 1691)
  • Planning study of the removal of some or all of the Bowker Overpass (Project ID: 1422)
  • Road relocation and other transportation-related improvements, Including bicycle and pedestrian paths and the repair and rehabilitation of the Harbor Walk, on the campus of the University of Massachusetts at Boston (Project ID: 1704
  • Study to design and construct a pedestrian footbridge in Brighton with an entry and exit point between Brooks street and Parsons street over the existing roadways to an entry and exit point on the Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path (Project ID: 1425)
  • Rehabilitation of the Old Northern Avenue Bridge over the Fort Point Channel (Project IDs: 606265 and BO-0130)
  • Construction of the South Bay Harbor Trail from Ruggles Station to the Fort Point Channel (Project ID: 604761)
  • Reconstruction of Causeway St including pedestrian and bicycle improvements (Project ID: 606320)
  • Replacement of the Allston I-90 Elevated Viaduct including interchange reconstruction, Beacon Park Yard layover and West Station (Project IDs: 606475 and BO-0160)
  • Commonwealth Phase 3 and 4 (Project ID: 608449)
  • Reconstruction of the River St and Western Ave bridges (Project IDs: 1699 and 605527)
  • Design of the Grand Junction Rail Trail (Project IDs: 1707 and 1708)
  • Design and Construction of the Inlet Bridge at North Point (Project IDs: 1442 and 1443)
  • Design and construction of separated bicycle and pedestrian pathways along Memorial drive and the Cambridge parkway from the Eliot bridge to the Craigie Dam bridge and the Craigie drawbridge (Project ID: 1445)
  • Construction of Phase II of the Watertown Greenway multi-use path (Project ID: 1729)

Bike lanes on Longwood Ave

After more than a year and a half of advocacy for bike lanes on Longwood Ave by area cyclists and the Bike Union, plans for a redesigned Longwood Ave were presented at MASCO’s 2nd Annual LMA Bike Summit on February 15th.

More than 180 people who are concerned about biking in the Longwood Medical Area gathered in the Jimmy Fund Auditorium to see presentations on bike infrastructure changes in the LMA — both planned changes and changes we want to see.  

Most exciting was a presentation given by Bike Union Board Member and Northeastern University Civil Engineering Professor Peter Furth.  Professor Furth’s presentation demonstrated what we have been advocating for, and what the video below demonstrates is possible – bike lanes along the entire length of Longwood Ave.  On a corridor with real constraints, no immediate reconstruction planned, and a mode share of almost 40% bikes (Longwood Ave, eastbound, morning peak hour), there needs to be a solution that provides dedicated space for people to bike safely into and out of the LMA.  This plan developed by Peter and his students calls for continuous bike lanes, and the elimination of the left turn lanes at the intersection of Longwood and Brookline Ave. Traffic counts conducted by the Bike Union have found that the left turn lanes are underutilized and unnecessary, and the road space could be reallocated to bike lanes with little to no effect on motor vehicle traffic.

The video below simulates the design the Bike Union is proposing.

We’re very excited about the possibilities unlocked by this plan and the modeling that demonstrates that it will be successful.  If you are, too, we encourage you to email Sarah Hamilton at MASCO to tell her how much dedicated bike lanes on Longwood Ave would mean to you, and CC Charlotte Fleetwood from the Boston Transportation Department, and the Bike Union. If you work in the LMA, you are also encouraged to send this to your employer or speak with them directly about what bike lanes on Longwood Ave would mean to you — the more leadership on board, the better!  You could send a short email like this one:

To:
shamilton@masco.harvard.edu
charlotte.fleetwood@boston.gov
info@bostoncyclistsunion.org
 
Dear Ms. Hamilton,

I ride into the LMA on a [daily, weekly, regular] basis.  I [work, study] there, and have no other options, but I also love the convenience and flexibility biking offers.  I don’t love the feelings of stress and discomfort I feel when I reach the Longwood Medical Area, especially as I squeeze through and past cars, or they pass by me closely, while biking on Longwood Ave.  I wish there were dedicated bike lanes to separate us.  

I attended the Longwood Bike Summit earlier this month and was very excited to see Peter Furth’s presentation and plan that would allow bike lanes on the full length of Longwood Ave.  I hope that you can work with him and the City of Boston to implement this as soon as possible.  

Thank you!
[you name]

The Bike in Winter: Observations and Inspirations from the Winter Cycling Congress

By Steven Bercu (@bicycleurbanist) & Becca Wolfson

In winter, much of the world’s ornamentation, its foliage, its riot of color, falls away.  We are faced with things in their essential nature: the bare branches of trees, the traces of our breath, gratitude for closest friends and loved ones, and the basic challenge of moving from Point A to Point B.

The fifth annual Winter Cycling Congress, held earlier this month in Montreal, had no official theme.  But the theme could have been Paring Away: the search for what is most essential during the still, cold, dark season.  Here we present some highlights and meditations from our time among others who ponder and practice winter bicycle use in its various forms.

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Riders en route to the Winter Cycling Congress in Montreal. Photo credit: @wintercyclingcongress

 

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A warm conference welcome, on a cold day, from Jean-Francois Pronovost of Velo Quebec. Photo credit: @wintercyclingcongress

 

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Conference goers setting out on a guided infrastructure tour, on Bixi [bike share] bikes, with layers to protect them from the -1 degree weather! Photo credit: @wintercyclingcongress

 

Oulu.

On the first morning of the conference, we met Pekka Tahkola, Vice President and a founder of the young Winter Cycling Federation.  Pekka hails from Oulu, a city in northern Finland that hosted the first Winter Cycling Congress in February 2013.  Oulu, where 42% of the populace bicycles during winter at least to some extent, is in some sense the spiritual home of winter bicycling.  Pekka told the story of bumping into a 91-year-old man at an Oulu bike shop who rides through the winter with his 86-year-old ladyfriend: “The gentleman is well preserved due to spending half his life in a freezer.”

Truly, the people of Oulu (Ouluians?) have turned their cold climate into a virtue.  To keep its estimable network of multi-use paths (a network that crisscrosses the downtown) operational during the cold season, Oulu has pioneered an unorthodox approach.  Completely eschewing the use of salt, the city instead allows paths to remain covered with a thin layer of hard-packed snow, which crews keep groomed using a toothed plow blade that leaves grooved ridges.  This surface offers sufficient traction for bicycles, and the system apparently works quite well provided that temperatures remain consistently cold—historically this was never an issue during the long Oulu winter.  Cycles of thawing and freezing, leading to ice conditions, work against the Oulu method, and Pekka noted that climate change is leading Oulu to begin rethinking its approach.

Continue reading The Bike in Winter: Observations and Inspirations from the Winter Cycling Congress