I should have known better than to ride through intersections with lovely photographers.
That was me riding into the city for the third annual Boston bikes Report, where Nicole Freedman, Boston’s dearest bike Czar, showed a packed BPL auduitorium just how far the city’s come since being labeled the “Worst Bicycling City in the World.” It was at the report I ran into another Matt, fellow blogger at “Westwood Biker“.
My original plan was to take notes and write a comprehensive report for those who couldn’t make it to read, Q&A and all. Unfortunately, I lost all my notes after forgetting to save it properly on the phone I was taking them with, so until the report slides with the exact details and statistics are made public, I’m only going to list some of the few points I can recall from my memory for now (in no particular order. Hopefully my memory isn’t too fuzzy) Please feel free to let me know if I get anything wrong.
- Boston’s rolled out a ton of bike lanes: 5 miles in 2008, 10 miles in 2009, and 20 in 2010. This surpasses the average of 10 miles/year of some other major cities
- New education programs are underway. Bicycle law enforcement and training will begin to be implemented in the police academy. Nicole’s grand “Roll it Forward” program to repair and redistribute donated bikes has been successful so far, as well as her efforts to get kids on bikes, and a pamphlet created to teach drivers how to deal with cyclists that is being sent to every driver in the state.
- Bicycle parking increased by over 700 bike parking spaces
- Boston’s very first cycle-track on Western Ave. is a great sign of things to come, (hopefully).
- Boston has the highest helmet use rate out of any city, with 74% of a random survey of riders wearing helmets. “Cost” was the number one reason listed for “not wearing a helmet” in a survey done at BU’s Bike Safety Day. (wow).
- Bike week and Bike Fridays have been a tremendous success and key to getting new riders out to hopefully become regular riders. I was surprised to find myself on the big screen for this slide, in full drum-biking action on Comm. Ave. during one bike-friday morning:
- And of course, it’s not just the efforts of Boston Bikes that matters, it’s everyone’s efforts as a collective community
There was a solid hour of Q&A, and some of the important points raised I remember were:
- Q:”Can you comment on the recent news of the increase in fines up to $150 for a cyclist who runs a red light?”
Nicole’s answer was along the lines of “the motivation is to educate cyclists, not penalize every single cyclist who runs a red light, but the fine is a sliding scale that can increase up to $150. For example, the guy who is flagrantly violating all the traffic laws will probably get the $150 fine…Just don’t be the one trying to score points for getting a group of pedestrians to separate as you weave through them…Getting people to follow the rules really requires a cultural shift, and our efforts are based on this notion.”
I have other thoughts on the proposed fine with respect to game theory economics which I’ll save for a later post.
- “Is there anything that can be done to better plow the bike lanes and the bike racks?” Nicole’s Answer: Right now, no, because there’s nowhere to really put the record amounts of snow Boston’s been getting in the past few weeks.
- Edit: Thanks to Bob for the following info regarding this man:
The guy asked people to stand or raise their hand if they had been struck by a driver. A large number of people stood up.
He then asked people who had been struck by a cyclist to stand up or raise their hand. A handful of people stood up. He asked who had to go to the hospital, and almost all of them sat down.
Then he asked for people to stand if, when they were struck by a car, they had to go to the hospital. Lots of people stood back up….
It was great to see the tremendous progress Boston’s made over the past few years, and the outstanding job done by not just Nicole, but everyone involved in the bicycling community. There’s a clear direction towards more education and even better bike infrastructure like cycle-tracks, and I’d say that’s a pretty solid direction for Boston to be headed in. As Nicole remarked, after being asked for advice from planners of some other cities tring to improve their biking situation, her immediate thought was, “we’re just glad to not be labeled the “worst” bicycle-friendly city anymore.