Many of you have surely noticed that Talbot Avenue is being repaved this week. Suspense is building up in anticipation of the first bike lanes in any neighborhood of color in the city and the first win for the BCU and a passel of neighborhood groups! But hold your horses, there’s still more work to do before the stripes go down.
According to the public works department, about two months of work to bring adjacent sidewalks up to ADA (American Disability Act) compliance with new ramps is required before bike lanes can be laid down. This is an interesting hitch that our advocacy is running into more and more. Repaving a street is routine and requires no extra alterations, but laying down a bike lane constitutes a design change and thus requires ADA compliance—which makes bike lanes much more expensive than they otherwise would be. Of course, it’s also a win because it gives better access to the street for disabled persons and our older residents.
The Talbot Avenue bike lane effort was begun by BCU director Pete Stidman while at the Dorchester Environmental Health Coalition by building on and amplifying the work a individuals and organizations in the neighborhood, including DotBike, the Codman Square Neighborhood Council, the BOLD Teens, the Codman Square Health Center, the Talbot Washington Safe Neighborhood Initiative, and others.
This campaign and a handful of others in Dorchester formed the basis of the BCU model: Taking the cycling safety goals of neighborhood residents and making them real through focused advocacy. Essentially, the BCU amplifies neighborhood advocacy using the BCU’s strong connections in city and state governments and by building a massive citywide BCU membership to back up individual neighborhood demands. Being citywide also allows us to tackle larger issues, like crash reporting and better training for MBTA bus drivers.
Starting this Sunday at the BCU’s table at the Bikes Not Bombs Grassroots Festival in Jamaica Plain, anyone will be able to become a member of the Union—whether you ride every day or just wish you could feel safe enough to ride every day. Membership dues will be $25 per year if you find us in person (online membership coming soon!) and will support all of our advocacy efforts in the city.
Continuing our work, which has been so successful thus far (we also have won plans for bike lanes on Columbia Road, Blue Hill Avenue, Warren Street, and MLK Blvd) will be highly dependent on a strong union membership.