Tonight: Live Blogging from the 4th Annual 2012 Boston Bike Report!

Last year, on my way to the 3rd annual 2011 Boston Bike Report, I was not only (unknowingly) photographed by LovelyBicycle herself, I also ran into other like bloggers at the event,  had no idea I’d show up on the big screen, and wrote up a summary of the report for all you who couldn’t make it.

This year, I’m taking the blogging to the next level. I’ll not only be bringing the bike blogging community together for the meeting through BABBA, but I will also be live-blogging the 2012 Boston Bikes Report. You know, the same way Engadget reporters live-blogged the last release of the iPad 2. I’ll be bringing you the latest scoop on Boston Bikes’ latest tonight. Right here. On The Humble Cyclist.

with Nicole Freedman, Director of Boston Bikes, City of Boston

Tuesday, February 28th
5:45- 6:15 PM 
Transportation Community Showcase
come learn what all the different community groups are doing to make Boston a world-class bicycling city
6:15- 7:30 PM Presentation (6:15 Mayor Menino, 6:30 Nicole Freeman)
7:30- 8:30 PM Q&A/Discussion

@ Boston Public Library, Rabb Lecture Hall, 700 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

I, for one, am looking forward to Mayor Menino raising his right fist into the air as he welcomes tonight’s audience with a booming  “The car is NO LONGER KING IN BOSTON!” 

2012 Boston Bike Update Audience

Full House!

6:16pm: BostonBikeUpdate begins! in an almost full auditorium, Steve Miller of Livablestreets welcomes…NOT Mayor Menino, who “got a flat tire on the way to update and could no longer attend.

6:18pm: Some other guy from the City of Boston, whose name I missed (anyone know his name?), is giving a speech on Mayor Menino’s behalf. Boston is first city in the country to have a “complete bike share system,” and we just “installed the 50th mile of bike lane.” *Applause*

6:22pm: Two Audience Questions for Mayor Menino Stand-in:

1st question: What will you do about enforcement of bike lanes? I’d like to see smartphone app to report potholes, bike lane violations. etc… what is the city doing about it?
Response: “We’ll definitely take that to heart. Police Capt goes to podium: *applause*, “bike lanes not just for double-parking. Mayo filed legislation to make parking in bike lane its own violation…We are working on better educating the drivers…Considering adding verbiage “bike ony,” “bike parking”  to bike lanes themselves. Hopefully a $100 ticket vs just a double-parking violation will have an effect on bike lane violations.”
2nd Question: Why don’t these “vehicles” have licenses, rules
Response: “We want bicyclists to follow rules, but don’t want to go too heavily on enforcement.”
6:25pm: Back to Steve Miller Intro: Giving history on Hub On Wheels. “Let’s try a bike festival…It wasn’t that long ago that people started talking about putting a bike lane on Comm. Ave…LivableStreets was laughed at for advocating Bike/Ped accomodations on Longfellow bridge…we need to foster culture of change. 5 game changers:
  1. Expand Hubway: support and build infrastructure that makes it safe.
  2. Create a bicycle Network: Incredible, now we have to implement, ideas to paint. Takes effort, need to think about how we have an “open streets” program, how to make “main streets” on each of our neighborhoods, get the community together. Let’s make bikes a visible part of our culture.
  3. Connect to Regional Greenways. Bike paths connecting to bike lanes, “neighborways,”
  4. Better Bridges.
  5. Prioritize Bicycling. There’s no good city without a good transit system. Encourage the city from “inclusion of bicycles” to “prioritization.” From research, when we prioritize bicycles, not only safer for bicycles, but safer for pedestrians and safer for cars (everyone).
Steve’s final works: “Stay Involved. Volunteer!”
6:33pm: Turn over to Nicole Freedman!: 
“First annual Boston Bikes Awards Ceremony for outstanding Boston Bikes Partners” Winners came up to accept awards on-stage.
  • 1st Award: Ethan Flemming (volunteer): “shows up everywhere, helped format report for the past few years.”
  • 2nd Award: Jed Jeng (Livable Streets Volunteer): “not only shows up to events, but stays around to help out.”
  • 3rd Award: Marty Walsh of Geekhouse bikes (Innovation Award)
  • 4th Award: International Bicycle Center: “Donated 400 bicycles to Boston City Youth.”
  • 5th Award: 2011 Lifetime Advocate Award:
    Nicole:”Jessica has been advocating for 27 years” Jessica: “Some of us have been around for a long time. My favorite ride is to loop around the city and use offroad trails as much as you can. If you do it every five years, you will see big changes you don’t see from year to year. Things are going faster now. We’re working on greenways. We’re almost there.”

    Jessica receiving "Lifetime Advocacy" Award. Photo credit: Lee Toma

6:40pm: Back to Nicole Freedman
Nicole talking about 2007 Boston Bikes Summit. Talked about how we can make Boston into a “world-class city.” Tells story about pulling Andy Clark from League of American bicyclists aside to say that in 3 years, Boston will be a League of American Bicyclists “Silver” rated city. All Andy said then was “Hmm.”
4 years later, we did it, Boston became a ‘silver” rated city and made it as a top 12 world class bicycling city.
What have we done?
  • Increased ridership by 50%
  • Ahead of New York, Ahead of D.C.
  • 15,000-20,000 new bike trips a day
  • #1 Safest, #1 Rank Walking and Bicycling City.
Milestones:
Milestone #1: Hubway:
Boston is “only city to have a “full sized bike system.” Nicole told story of when NYC bike commissioner came to Boston to visit and said “glad Boston and other cities are first, because we can learn from their mistakes.” NYC is rolling out large bike share system this year. Have definitely learned from Boston.
  • 140,000 trips, 3750 members
  • 60 stations, 610 bicycles
  • “when launched, need to launch in densest pasts of cities.” 
  • This year system expanding into Cambridge/Somerville.
  • Working hard to expand into Roxbury, JP, Dorchester; looking hard to raise money.
  • 60% riders local, 40% tourists, 75% of income from casual users. %60 of them live in boston, 80% work in Boston: says a lot for bike commuting. “We have a new cyclist on the streets here.”
  • Why choose Hubway? in order of #: Faster, Fun, Env,…
  • 39% of trips are made in conjunction wih transit. 
  • Top Ten Stations Slide
  • Distributing Subsidized Memberships with $5 helmets. Have distributed 70 so far.
  • Safety and Enforcement. 
    • BPD ticketing cyclists (222 for cyclists running red lights), 279 tickets to drivers. 
    • 5126 helmets given away on Hubway. (37 locations in Boston selling subsidized helments for $7.99 at CVS and Walgreens)
    • Outreach to drivers. Every driver gets a pamphlet on how to behave safely around cycists. 
    • HelmetHub, MIT Project: Working to get it out on the streets THIS SPRING.
Milestone #2: 52.2th Mile of bike lane.
  • Location is Key: Need impact. Mass Ave. is “spine” of city. Now we have bike lane from bridge in Boston *Standing ovation* “It was really close to not happening. Close to Christmas. Made it happen before new years.” Next year looking to expand all the wya to Dorchester.
  • Harborbike: Connecting seaport to charlestown area. In phase 1. In the future, is there room for a cycletrack? Peter Furth great inspirtation.
  • Downtown: Now have 5 miles of bike lanes downtown.
    • New wayfinding system. Signs coming to downtown! 
  • Bike Lanes on BU Bridge: “Thank  you MassDOT”
  • What will bike network look like in the future? Low stress sytem for novice cyclists? Toole design tasked with this. Working on bike network. 
    • Want to focus on protected facilities. Have 150 miles of protected bike lanes (off road paths). Looking to doubling in the next 10-20 years. On street cycletracks. Bikelanes, neighborways, etc: 417 miles of bike facility. Currently at 100 miles. *applause*
    • “This applause is so interesting!”
    • New bike industry even in a recession. Bike Innovation Hub in “Innovation District.”
    • 80% job growth.
    • Bike-Friendly business programs. 
    • Bike  Week/Bike Friday continuing to grow. 10% of people start biking because they came to an event. 
    • Looking of feasibility of more events, on the greenway. 
7:05pm: Nicole introduces John Bilderbeck who runs Boston Bikes Roll it Forward Program: Nicole:”A few
years ago, came up with plan to fix up thousands of bikes and give to youth, got a grant to do it. Hired John…always hire someone ‘smarter than yourself.'”
John: Working on new website for Boston Bikes (http://beta.bostonbikes.org)  (public feedback welcome):

Mayor Menino rides a bike across the homepage of Boston Bikes' new website (currently in beta).

  • Website trying to capture personality of people, more colorful, geared to share 
  • info for Community Sites, being made through volunteer efforts

  • Hope to have Bike Commuting 101 section.
  • 1088 Bikes Donated. Accomplished goal in 1 year. “In LA, california, tried to do the same things with more money, trying to repair 20 bikes for double the money Boston had. Fact that we were able to collect, fix, donate 1000 bikes is huge. While proud of numbers, just as proud of what’s behind how we crafted the program.( Imagine being a kid with 100 neighborhood, and 100 kids to ride bikes with) will have significant impact where we will flood neighborhood with bikes.”
  • Worked with youth programs to acheive their goals and BB Roll it Forward goals. “By working with groups, not only giving teams bikes, but had strong confidence that program leaders would mentor teams long after teams had gone away.”
  • Worked with shops for win-win bike donations.
  • Major thanks to International Bicycle Center. 400/1000 bikes came from there. Provided helmets and locks too.
  • Mechanics: Relentlessly working in a cold, windowless basement, fixing bikes is “as much art as it is a skill, we have two amazing artists: John Chamberland, John Parsons.
Youth Cycling Program (YCP): bring 30 bikes to schools in a truck to teach bike safety and bike fun.
  • 7,773 Youth Instructed on bicycling safety in the past 3 years. 
  • First step on getting them excited. “Kids go nuts when we come with bikes.” 
  • 1 day of safety lessons, 2nd day of being on the bikes. 
  • Kids have fun on the bikes.
  • Try to go back to schools to build culture of cycling in every neighborhood. Lessons get better, teachers get use to it, and schools become a hub for bicycling in that city. 
“what’s the total impact of this? We know that when a bike comes into a kid’s life, they use it. 81% of kids riding ‘everyday or whenver possible.’ 30% ‘gets them off the couch'”
Bike to Market
  • Thanks to Pete Stidman of Boston Cyclists Union, 80 farmers Markets, 1632 Repairs. 
  • 9 Partner Events, 672 Participants.
Back over to Nicole Freeman: “I want to recap the future:”
  • Bike Share will  expand.
  • Network Plan will expand
  • Bike Lanes will expand.
  • Helmets: Lots more public outreach, helmets into hands.
  • Bike Parking: Will add artistic racks and on-street bike parking.
  • Community Biking: Our city is model for “community equity”
  • Bike Events.
“Now every department in the city of Boston is working to make biking happen.”
7:30pm. End Presentation.

Q&A with Nicole ran for a good 30 minutes. Some of the questions I took coherent notes on before my internet died:

Question: Is Boston Considering bike rack signs like the dutch have, with a pole and a little sign atop of it to make it easy for bicyclists to find all the bike parking?
Answer: These have been considered before, but the design the city was looking at had some safety issues. We can definitely revisit this.

Question: What’s a good route around the Boston Commons? (Bikes are not allowed to ride inside) Answer: Downtown is the biggest challenge. We’re working on downtown a lot, as I mentioned we’ll be installing a way finding system and more bike lanes. We are also considering a plan for a cycle-track that goes all the way around Boylston, thank to the work of Peter Furth, who’s come up with a very complex plan for this. Toole Design is tasked with making biking in downtown better.

Question: Before Hubway I hadn’t ridden a bike in 3 years, and absolutely love it! What can I do to help make sure it continues to expand? Answer: Tell all your friends to sign up and ride Hubway! The more people that use it, the more successful it will become!
Question:There’s a lot of construction going on in my neighborhood at [location not noted], that obstructs the bike lanes on the entire road. There are detour signs for cars to get around the construction, but non for bikes. Can you please consider putting up
Answer: That’s a new question I haven’t heard! I’m going to write that down. Noted.

Question: Riding from Allston to the river is dangerous, no, deadly. Especially with the construction going on. Can you please note that something needs to be done to make this route safer?
Answer: Noted.

The Humble Cyclist asks a question. Photo Credit: Jed Jeng

My Question to Nicole: A few people mentioned wayfinding, and I’m really happy you’re bringing that downtown. However, what I see missing is on-street directions for bicyclists. I came back from a trip to Portland where I barely had to whip out my map at all while riding to the airport (imagine that, Portland has a bike route to the airport!) because there were painted route markers on the street telling me where to go, where my eyes are looking for potholes and other obstacles. They worked because I saw them. Are you considering expanding wayfinding plans to include on-street route markings like these? I know it works because I’ve seen and used it in Portland. Answer: As I mentioned, we’re excited to be bringing wayfinding to downtown. Navigating Boston is definitely complicated, as was creating the network of bike routes and paths. Portland doesn’t have to deal with the wear and tear of winter salt and snow plows like we do, which may be a problem for on-street markings, but it is definitely something to consider.

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