In 2013, Boston’s Bike Network Plan called for completing 21 milesof protected bike lanes by 2018. Yet now, five years later, Boston has built barely 6 miles of that promised network. In contrast, Minneapolis built more than 6 miles of protected bike lanes last year alone. Even more impressive, New York City built 25 miles of protected bike lanes last year, after adding 18 the year before. And in Montreal, which already has an extensive network of separated bike lanes, the city dedicated another $150 million in 2017 to further build out their low-stress bike network over three years.
While Boston has made great strides over the past several years in shifting attitudes and policies toward cycling, it has lagged in making meaningful upgrades to physical infrastructure. So as other cities raced ahead — People For Bikes recently rated Boston as just the 36th best U.S. city for biking, noting the sluggish rate of improvement — underfunding, understaffing and a lack of political willpower scuttled grand plans to improve biking and shift mode share here at home.
There is no reason why Boston can’t keep pace — and you have the power to make it happen.
On Tuesday, the City Council will hold a hearing on Mayor Walsh’s proposed 2019 budget for the Department of Transportation, which would increase funds by $5 million compared to the previous year. A significant amount of that funding will add additional staff to the Transportation Department to implement Vision Zero initiatives, and integrate the City’s transportation department with the the MBTA. While these staffing increases are not insignificant and are an encouraging first step and what we — and you — have been asking for since last year’s budget process, the uptick is still insufficient to fund and implement a truly strategic bike network. The city’s own long-term transportation plan, Go Boston 2030, sets aspirational goals, such as ensuring every home is within a five-minute walk from a protected bike lane or shared-use path. Yet this kind of bold action cannot be achieved without adequate funding.
The collective strength of your voices is invaluable in influencing how the City Council and Mayor act. We urge you to attend the Transportation Department Budget hearing. It’s important for them to hear that you support and applaud the Mayor’s $5 million increase for the Transportation Department, but that it doesn’t go far enough to build a network of safe, low-stress bike facilities. We also encourage you to share your stories about biking in Boston, the stress you encounter and what improvements you’d like to see via this form. We’ll present responses to the council to ensure your voice is heard. Please take advantage of this opportunity — show up and speak up!
(You will be required to enter City Hall on the 1st floor entrance, on Congress St. across from Faneuil Hall)
So what would a more ambitious investment in creating safe streets look like? Here’s what we’re asking for:
More funding for Boston’s strategic bike network: The proposed budget would increase this funding from $900,000 to $1.2 million. The budget claims the ability to build up to 15 miles of protected bike lanes over the next 4 years. We propose raising that to $4 million, which would allow the City to build more than 12 miles of bike lanes each year.
More funding for Vision Zero: Boston spent a meager $6 per capita on Vision Zero last year, compared to $13 per capita in New York City and a whopping $75 in San Francisco. We can do better.
Expediting of priority projects: There are a significant number of projects that could be expedited to dramatically improve thousands of people’s lives by creating safe places to bike, while also improving safety for people walking and driving. Key priority projects should include separated bike facilities on:
Mass Ave from Melnea Cass Blvd. to Columbia Rd.
Cambridge Street from Charles Circle to City Hall
Malcolm X Blvd.
Washington Street between Boylston and Essex Street
Arlington, Charles, Beacon and Boylston Streets surrounding the Public Garden
Hundreds of you attended this hearing last year, delivering a wake-up call and forcing the City to concede it must do more to safeguard cyclists. This proposed funding increase for FY19 is a direct result of your activism, though there is still more work to be done.
Here’s how you can help:
Share your story — Share your unpleasant bike experiences and suggestions for improvements via this form, and we’ll present them to the city council.
Speak up — Attend the hearing to express support for the proposed increase, and to request further funding to truly transform Boston’s bike network.
Show up — Even if you don’t testify, simply standing with us sends a strong signal to the City that there is vocal support for a more ambitious approach.
Spread the word — Share this email or our event page with your friends, family, coworkers and fellow cyclists to mobilize a robust turnout.
Last year we got the City to listen. It’s now time to demand they act.