The Union Rider: May 2020

Statement on recent killings of black Americans

We are saddened and outraged by the recent killings of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery in Minneapolis and Georgia. As these tragedies show yet again, not everyone enjoys equal freedom to move on our streets. While the BCU is most focused on improving safety on our streets for people on bikes, we know that safety means more than just infrastructure changes for black and brown people, women, trans people and other marginalized identities that continue to be targets of harassment and violence. If we have bike lanes everywhere, but black people cannot enjoy them without risking their health, safety, and even their very lives, we have not reached our mission to transform the streets of greater Boston into equitable and inviting people-centered spaces affording access and connection for every body.

This is why when we address the enforcement component of street safety, we work to pass policies like automated enforcement that take away the chance for bias and targeting. This is also why, through our organizing, we are working to build leadership and power among the communities and people who have been the target of systemic, structural and interpersonal racism and injustice.

There are many things that you can do in this moment, and we encourage you to take action in some way this week to combat racism. That could be donating to an organization, attending a Black Lives Matter vigil, having tough conversations with friends and family about these recent events, or checking in on people in your circle who may be especially hurting right now. I called my representative in Congress and asked him to cosponsor the resolution Rep. Ayanna Pressley filed that condemns police brutality and racial profiling, and tomorrow I’ll take action through art with my family. I hope that however you may be impacted by these tragic events, you find time to connect with your loved ones, process these events, and channel your anger, sadness and any other feelings into action for a more just future. 

—BCU Interim Executive Director Eliza Parad

Subsidized Bluebikes passes for low-income Bostonians

Bikes are proving to be invaluable tools amid the pandemic, but not everyone has access to one. So to help people get around in a safe, affordable and healthy way, the BCU is offering $5 annual passes (vs. $100 for a full-price pass) for Bluebikes to people with limited incomes. This program is made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Wagner Foundation. Residents from any municipality in the Bluebikes system who meet certain income-based criteria are eligible for the discounted passes. You can apply in minutes at the link below.

A slide from a Boston City Council hearing on the BTD/PWD budgets for FY21

Boston Moves Closer to More Bike Lane Spending

This month, the Boston City Council met to review the streets budget for the next fiscal year (FY21), which includes a proposed increase to $2.6 million in funding for bike lanes, as well as plans to complete specific, high-priority projects. We were thrilled to hear so many positive remarks from councilmembers about the urgent need to build the bike network, both to meet the city’s longstanding goals and to address how the pandemic will reshape how people get around! We testified at this hearing in support of increased funding, and are eager to work with the City to get many more bike lanes on the ground over the coming year.

Beacon St. in Brookline, with cones demarcating a curb extension

Beacon St. in Brookline, with cones demarcating a curb extension

Boston’s shared streets plan during (and after) COVID

Speaking of new bike lanes, Boston has been exploring a range of options for improving how people get around during the pandemic, including the potential to reallocate some street space from cars. On Thursday, the City announced its immediate plans — and the first phase includes creating over 3 miles of pop-up bike lanes over the next few weeks including some permanent bike lanes on Washington St., Stuart St. and Berkeley St. The announcement comes after a City Council hearing earlier this month about this issue; you can read our full written testimony from that hearing here. While this first phase is an encouraging step, we hope additional phases will include neighborhoods across Boston. Along with the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition, we will continue to advocate for more measures that keep people safe now while walking, biking and riding transit, and that prevent a spike in driving as travel begins to resume. If you are excited about the new bike lanes and want to see more, send Boston a note at, or tweet at @BostonBTD. 

Shared streets in Cambridge

On Thursday, the City of Cambridge also announced their Shared Streets plan. The initial plan will include shared streets on Magazine St., Harvard St. and Garden St. You can learn more about the plan and provide feedback to the City of Cambridge on their website. Elsewhere in Cambridge, DCR is piloting the closure of Memorial Drive on Sunday, May 24, and again on Sunday, May 31. We hope you get out and safely enjoy the street openings!

Coming Soon: Bike to Market 2020

Our free bike repair and education program, Bike to Market, will in June kick off its 11th season. Held throughout the summer in neighborhoods with low-income populations and/or limited bike shop access, Bike to Market (B2M) has fixed more than 7,500 bikes since we began tracking data in 2012. Given the economic impact of coronavirus, B2M will be as important as ever this year. We aim to hold a full schedule of more than 40 events this year, with new precautions to keep staff, volunteers and participants safe from coronavirus.

What We’re Reading

  • Poor and Black ‘invisible cyclists’ need to be part of post-pandemic transport planning, too (StreetsblogMass)
  • Bike Lanes Can Benefit Local Businesses (!), According to This Study (Bicycling Magazine)
  • Portents of a Post-Pandemic Walking and Cycling Boom (StreetsblogMass)
  • Why you’re unlikely to get the coronavirus from runners or cyclists (Vox)
  • Thinking of Buying a Bike? Get Ready for a Very Long Wait (New York Times)

Chain of events 

     Register here for Streetsblog Mass’ first virtual book club gathering discussing People Before Highways by Karilyn   Crockett, which chronicles the anit-highway movement in the 1960s.

Full chain of events here.