Thank you! - Longfellow Bridge Update

Dear members and friends,

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! 

Thank you! 

– The staff of the Boston Cyclists Union


Action Alert: Tell MassDOT Longfellow Bridge conditions are unacceptable!

Dear Members,

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

Dear Secretary,

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!

(See the full letter here: Longfellow Phase 2 Comments-2)

Please write to MassDOT at and CC, and so we can see that you’ve taken action and can help amplify your voice!


City of Boston releases Vision Zero Action Plan

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.Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 5.06.00 PM

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!

We're on a roll this year, help make 2015 the best year ever for biking in Boston!

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!

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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!


Boston's 2nd Annual Cranksgiving Bike Ride/Food Drive is this Saturday!

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.

Watch the video below to learn more and check out the event on facebook here!

World Day of Remembrance Ride and Vigil at the State House Nov. 15

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 3.16.02 PMSunday, November 15th is the World Day of Remembrance for victims of traffic violence.

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.

More info about the ride and vigil can be found here.

The Boston Cyclists Union's BIKETOBERFEST!

Thursday, Oct. 15 at the Armory in Somerville

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 11.51.29 AMIt’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!

Cambridge Brewing Company
Downeast Cider House
Aeronaut Brewing Company
Percival Beer Company
El Pelón
Flatbread Pizza
Lärabar and many others will be supplying the delicious food!

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!

Montague Bikes
El Pelon
Cambridge Brewing Co.
Downeast Cider Company
Whole Foods
Ashmont Cycles
Perceval Brewing Company
Life Alive
and more to come!

A letter from the Executive Director: Time to pass the torch!

Riding on the Dunsmuir St. cycletrack in Vancouver during the Global Velo-City Conference in 2012.

Riding on the Dunsmuir St. cycletrack in Vancouver during the Global Velo-City Conference in 2012.

The Boston Cyclists Union’s first five years have shown amazing growth, culminating in some incredible achievements fixing bikes and fixing streets. The Union played a significant role in bringing the City of Boston from worst cycling city in the country status into an innovative leader in bike planning and policy. I have worked very hard and I’ve also enjoyed every minute of it, and most of all getting to know all of you.

My passion is to influence positive change in the city I love, and hopefully to influence others around the world to do the same in their own hometowns. With the victories on Comm Ave. and Vision Zero that you and I played a strong role in, we’ve entered a new and interesting era for bike advocacy in Boston–one where the precedents are on the ground and many of the administrative tools we will need to create a far safer and more enjoyable city are falling into place.

These developments and the Bike Union’s strong framework for the Bikeways for Everybody and Vision Zero campaigns create a natural opportunity for new leadership at the Bike Union. They also give me an opportunity to pursue exciting new ideas on how I can be even more effective at creating change in our region.

Pitching the Bike Union in the rain on City Hall Plaza in 2011.

Pitching the Bike Union in the rain on City Hall Plaza in 2011.

While there is no specific timeframe for me passing the baton, the board and I are working together on a nationwide search for a new Executive Director. We’re looking for a person who has the passion and skillset required to take this wonderful, scrappy little organization with a big footprint into the future–toward new and fascinating challenges. Meanwhile, the Bike Union will continue to teach bike repair, build the Bikeways for Everybody campaign, and advocate new strategies for Vision Zero. I will remain director of the Union until we have further news to announce.

Rest assured that even after I move on, the Bike Union will remain committed to focusing primarily on the City of Boston in the core of our service area, which, thanks to our support and to the incredible work of the Walsh Administration, is emerging as a national leader on bike safety. Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville, as always, are within our sights as well.

With candidate for mayor Marty Walsh and former Union board president Phi Tran at the Bike Union's Annual Party (Meeting) in 2013.

With candidate for mayor Marty Walsh and former Union board president Phi Tran at the Bike Union’s Annual Party (Meeting) in 2013.

I welcome your calls and communications as I consider my next steps, and I encourage all of you to keep the Bike Union in your hearts when it comes time to renew your membership, make a donation or volunteer. When the time comes for me to leave, undoubtedly there will be a party invite in your inbox! The Bike Union’s power has always come not from me, but from you, our supporters, and I thank your for that support.

I love you all and ¡Viva la Bike Union!


Pete Stidman

P.S. (from the Board of Directors) The Board wishes to thank Pete Stidman for his tremendous hard work, inexhaustible efforts, and myriad achievements in building the Boston Cyclists Union from scratch. In just a few short years, he has made it into a respected, informed, and constructive voice for advancing our mission of creating a healthier, more livable Boston region through promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation. The Bike Union’s mission is of course part of his own personal mission, and we look forward to his continuing help and participation in our organization as well as in the city and region.

Celebrate Boston's biggest cycletrack yet

A rendering of the innovative new Connect Historic Boston "Bike Trail" a.k.a. cycletrack coming to Causeway Street near TD North Garden.

A rendering of the innovative new Connect Historic Boston “Bike Trail” a.k.a. cycletrack coming to Causeway Street near TD North Garden.

Way back in September of 2010 the Bike Union sent a comment letter to the city on a 25% design for Causeway Street in Boston. It suggested for the first time the concept of “Harborbike;” a two-way cycletrack connecting Atlantic, Commercial and Causeway streets.

The idea kicked around in Boston’s City Hall for a year or two as plans for the three streets continued to evolve, getting mentions in public meetings for bike lanes on Atlantic, Commercial and Causeway, but then got picked up by a team of planners working on ideas for “Connect Historic Boston” – a project that aimed to improve access for visitors to National Park Service properties as well and thousands of Boston residents.

The resulting innovative and smart Boston Transportation Department concept won a very competitive $15.5 million national TIGER Grant in 2013 and hundreds of Boston Cyclists Union members like you showed up at several public meetings to support it at design meetings ever since-helping to create an amazing new facility that will be safe and inviting to people of all ages and abilities.

Tomorrow, the first ground will be broken!

Come join us, the city, the state, the feds and Boston’s bike advocacy community for this huge historic moment!

Connect Historic Boston Groundbreaking
Fri., July 10, 1pm
(open house starting at noon)
Union Street in the Blackstone Block
(near Union Street and Marshall Street)

See you there!

A Magic May and a new mission

Bike Union volunteers taught bike repair for free to help attract more attention to the Go Boston 2030 Visioning Lab--which is creating a new transportation plan for Boston.

Bike Union volunteers taught bike repair for free to help attract more attention to the Go Boston 2030 Visioning Lab–which is creating a new transportation plan for Boston.

It’s a pleasant trick of nature that the first month of fair weather biking in Boston is also a time when the fall and winter’s labors produce fruit-in the form of significant bike activism victories. Did you catch them all?

First, the weather. Every bicyclist was lobbying Mother Nature for an early end to this winter’s ferocity and she granted that wish to great cheers. The Bike Union welcomed the sun at Wake Up the Earth, Harvard Mayfair, the Annual Spring Kickoff, and the Rush Hour Race. Our staff and volunteers really tested their limits, but all the hard work paid off with over $20,000 in donations and over 200 new memberships during the month of May.

People join the Boston Cyclists Union because of the powerful work it does. And they had a multitude of examples to choose from this May. Riding on the heels of winning protected intersections on Commonwealth Ave in April, and a Vision Zero commitment from Mayor Walsh, the month had it’s own list of wins.

As the month dawned, the work of the Urban Paths & Parkways Committee, led by executive director Pete Stidman, heard back on a request that some of the money used to repave roads would be re-appropriated to repave critical bike paths. After querying over 70 advocates from around the state, the Charles River paths were the clear priority ask for the UPPC. As a result, the DCR agreed to repave two miles of the Charles River paths on the Boston side of the river this fall.

On the weekend of May 8-9, hundreds of people flocked into the GoBoston 2030 visioning forum, part of a citywide planning process director Stidman helps guide from his seat on the steering committee. The Bike Union was there in another way as well, teaching bike repair to visitors to help make sure a wide diversity of bike voices showed up. Their votes on the thousands of questions gathered will serve as the basis of a new transportation plan for the city.

On Wed. May 13, Stidman sat down to his first meeting of the official Vision Zero Task Force, discussing new ways police could be reporting crashes so as to provide more information on how to prevent them with bike researcher Anne Lusk (a co-founder of the Bike Union). The new task force is largely comprised of the groups and agencies that have been working on the health commission’s Crash Data Task Force for the past several years.

A comparison of the design concept submitted to the Town of Brookline by the Bike Union, and the design the town came up with afterward.

A comparison of the design concept submitted to the Town of Brookline by the Bike Union, and the design the town came up with afterward.

Later that evening, a half a year’s work on the Gateway East project in Brookline paid off at a public meeting in the town hall. A project that started without any bike infrastructure whatsoever six months ago now has cycletracks, thanks to an effort that had lots of contributors(including Anne Lusk and members of the Brookline Bicycle Committee). The Bike Union contributed a full design concept, an artistic rendering of what it might look like, and dozens of calls with key stakeholders and decision makers. The tools helped the community make a more effective argument to win the kind of safe streets that they want, and the calls helped pave the way. The project also includes some of the first “floating bus stops” in the area.

The very next day, Boston’s Inspectional Services Department began inspecting trucks contracting the City of Boston for the installation of sideguards and blind spot mirrors-thanks to an ordinance the Bike Union helped pass. The mirrors help truck drivers stay aware of people nearby and should a crash occur, sideguards help prevent serious injury or death. There is also now a bill moving through the State House that would extend the requirement to all trucks of a certain size registered in the state, it’s sponsored by three great Dans: Representatives Dan Hunt, Dan Ryan and Dan Cullinane. Go Dans go!

Civil Engineering professor Peter Furth passes along his knowledge of the Dutch version of Vision Zero to City staff.

Civil Engineering professor Peter Furth passes along his knowledge of the Dutch version of Vision Zero to City staff.

On the Friday the 15th, bike activist of the holy variety Rev. Laura Everett and the Bike Union held a touching Blessing of the Bikes on Copley Plaza and then on Sunday the kids came out for the JP Bikes Spring Roll and Brookline Bike Parade, setting an apropos prologue for Bike Union board member Peter Furth, who was called in to City Hall on that Monday to give a detailed presentation on how the Dutch accomplish their version of Vision Zero to the city’s entire leadership on Transportation.After witnessing the power of Dr. Furth’s words, it’s clear that a new shift is just beginning to take place in city hall: the idea that we need to design for the mistakes people make. Some mistakes are intentional (like running a red light or jaywalking), some aren’t, but we need to create designs that help ensure those mistakes can’t lead to death or injury.

It’s a critical time for Boston. The core urban cities and the state are all in support of promoting bicycling and making it safe. The Bike Union knew this day was coming, and our Activist Group knew it would create new opportunities. Chief among them, the opportunity to go after what almost all of us really want: super safe bikeways that take us everywhere we most want to go.

A map of the Harborline Bikeway, the first of five Bikeways for Everybody.

A map of the Harborline Bikeway, the first of five Bikeways for Everybody.

In pursuit of these “Bikeways for Everybody” the Bike Union’s Activist Group, working with local residents, has developed the first of five proposals for crosstown bikeways. It’s called the Harborline Bikeway and it extends 15 miles, all the way from Mattapan Square to Assembly Row, with a spur out to Castle Island in South Boston. The route would connect tens of thousands of people to safe bike infrastructure along key commuter routes, and it could be 80% complete by 2020 and 100% complete by 2025 if current projects are fast-tracked, and a few small connector projects are started.

The map of the Harborline Bikeway is here. Explore it. Think about a city where every neighborhood has access to a facility as nice and as useful for getting to work as the Southwest Corridor is for Jamaica Plain. For health, for happiness, for less congested streets and fewer crashes of all kinds–Bikeways for Everybody.