The Boston Bike Budget, and a people-first Northern Ave. Bridge

There are two opportunities this week to influence the future of Boston’s bike network and transportation budget, and we need your support on both fronts.

Boston Bike Budget

Critical funding to improve biking in Boston is on the line this Thursday when the Boston City Council’s Ways and Means Committee meets to discuss next year’s budgets (FY21) for the Public Works and Transportation Departments. This includes an increase to $2.6 million proposed by Mayor Walsh in the city’s capital budget for building bike lanes, plus additional money for specific projects in bike access and education. 

Ways and Means Hearing: FY21 Budget: PWD, BTD
Thursday, May 7 || 10 a.m.
Click here to watch the livestream

We’d hoped for a larger increase when we launched our annual Boston Bike Budget Campaign, but given the delays in planning and construction due to coronavirus, we see the proposed funding as significant progress. Those funds would support completion of around 6 miles of bike lanes this year — including some priority projects in high-crash areas — with another 5 miles on tap for 2021. (For comparison, Boston built approximately 1 mile of protected bike lanes in 2019). The proposed budget also includes other laudable items, like expanding the Bluebikes network, funding for employers to subsidize Bluebikes passes, and a reinstated youth bike program in Boston Public Schools.

Please join us in asking the City Council to keep the entire proposed funding for bike projects and programs in the final budget. 

• Submit testimony — Written testimony or prerecorded videos sent to the Ways and Means Committee ( will be made a part of the meeting record and available to all Councilors. Please also CC your councilor (if you don’t know your councilor, find your district here and match it to your councilor here) and CC so we can track our efforts. 

• Testify during the hearing — You can also sign up to speak during the hearing via Zoom. Information on how to do so is available here.

In your testimony, we encourage you to make the following points:

  • The City Council should support the full $2.6 million in capital funds for the Strategic Bike Network proposed by Mayor Walsh.
  • Thank you for expanding programs and access to biking that will get more people on bikes, such as the youth cycling initiative, the women’s learn to ride program and Bluebikes pass subsidies. 
  • While some projects will understandably be delayed, we encourage you to move forward projects that have already had public engagement and are being done to address critical safety and bike network access needs. In particular, we urge you to complete the project that would install protected bike lanes on Mass Ave., south of Melnea Cass, this year.
  • The budget for rebuilding the Northern Ave. Bridge should only be approved if there is a commitment to rebuild it exclusively for pedestrians, people on bikes and emergency vehicles. (More on that below.)

Northern Ave Bridge

A concept design for the Northern Ave. Bridge (Image: City of Boston)

After decades of discussions, in December 2019, Boston announced that the now-closed Northern Ave. Bridge would be rebuilt with a “people-first” design prioritizing foot and bike traffic. We were thrilled to share that news with you, but since then it has become clear that there will be cars on the bridge. The Mayor’s proposed budget increased the budget for the Bridge to $100 million dollars, which is far more than the cost to build a pedestrian- and bike-only bridge. 

There are still many questions remaining about the City’s preferred design and we encourage you to join the public meeting this Wednesday to learn more. 

Northern Avenue Bridge Online Public Meeting
Wednesday, May 6 
6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Link to join online:
Webinar ID: 861 6164 2315
Joining by phone: 1 (929) 205-6099 or 1 (301) 715-8592

We and other advocates, including our partner, LivableStreets Alliance, are continuing to push for a car-free bridge which has been the preferred public option all along. Now more than ever, with coronavirus expected to put a strain on spending, the City should be pursuing the less costly, people-first option. We ask that you join us in urging the City Council to take this position, too.

We are unclear on why this project is moving forward with a public meeting while other projects are on hold; we and others have been asking the city to prioritize advancing projects that will improve safety and accessibility during the coronavirus pandemic. We encourage you to stay informed and join the public meeting or send your feedback.