The Boston Bike Budget

A Proposal for Boston’s FY18 Budget

Beacon Street Back Bay

More protected bike lanes throughout Boston could be a reality with increased funding. 

 

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.

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. 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.

What Could We Do with the Boston Bike Budget?

The City’s 2013 Boston Bike Network Plan promised 35 miles of protected bike lanes by 2018 (21 miles of protected on-street lanes and 14 miles of off-road paths). So far, only 1.2 miles have been completed. 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.

Benefits of Protected Bike Infrastructure

In both the GoBoston 2030 Vision Framework and the City’s Vision Zero Action Plan, Boston set forth several positive goals to achieve by 2030, including increasing bicycling mode share fourfold, ensuring that all households are within a 5-minute walk of a protected bicycle facility or shared use path, and eliminating traffic deaths. Not only is protected bike infrastructure crucial for the City to reach its GoBoston 2030 and Vision Zero goals, it offers many additional benefits:

Safety and Health: Protected bike lanes make everyone safer — they reduce injury crashes for all road users (people driving, walking, and biking) by 40 to 50 percent, and they reduce sidewalk bike riding by an average of 56 percent. And more people riding bikes means less air pollution and more physical activity, keeping Bostonians healthy.

Economic Development: Protected bike lanes boost retail sales by making it easier to get to local businesses. After the construction of a protected bike lane on 9th Avenue in New York City, local businesses saw a 49 percent increase in retail sales. On other streets in the borough, the average was only 3 percent.

Transportation: Traffic congestion costs the average Boston driver $1,760/year, and rush-hour commuters spend an average of 57.6 hours sitting in traffic. We can’t build our way out of congestion. Protected bike lanes increase biking by an average of 75% in the first year alone, appeal to 4-7 times as many people as bike lanes that are merely painted, and make driving less stressful, all helping to move people more efficiently on Boston’s crowded streets.

Where could the money come from?

Boston’s budget isn’t unlimited, and increased funding is needed in many areas, but there are revenue sources we could tap into without increasing taxes, or creating an undue burden on Boston residents. Perhaps the best way to increase funding for traffic safety and bike infrastructure would be to implement parking reform, by charging a small annual fee for residential parking permits.

The City of Boston, unlike its neighbors Cambridge and Somerville, does not charge anything for residential parking permits. Not only is this leaving money on the table, it actually makes finding parking spots more difficult, as the demand far exceeds the supply of on-street parking.

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 2.35.10 PM

 

The City of Boston issues approximately 100,000 parking permits a year. Charging the same amount as Cambridge or Somerville would generate millions of dollars of revenue that could be reinvested in our streets and the City departments responsible for improving and maintaining them. This is just one small step the City could take to better manage our streets and parking.


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.