MassBike Policies

Policy on Bicycle Facilities (adopted by the Board of Directors on January 31, 2010)

A. MassBike supports the development of dedicated and semi-dedicated bicycle infrastructure including bike lanes, shared use paths, bike boulevards (local streets prioritized for through bike travel while discouraging through motor vehicle travel), and paved shoulders. Bicycle facilities such as these improve bicyclist safety and comfort, make roads less stressful for bicyclists and motorists, and have proven successful in attracting a larger number and greater diversity of people to riding bicycles. MassBike also encourages the use of innovative bicycle facility treatments that have proven successful elsewhere, and experimentation with innovative facilities designed to improve bicyclist safety and comfort, such as bike boxes, contraflow lanes, colored bike lanes, separated paths or cycle tracks, and marking the bicyclist’s line of travel within shared lanes.

B. Bicycle lanes and paths should form continuous routes and networks. They should not just be applied in pieces where leftover road space is available, or discontinued on approaches to busy intersections that may have added turning lanes. Because intersections are high conflict areas, bicycle safety treatments at intersections are especially encouraged. Example treatments include marking bike lanes through the intersection with dashed lines or color, protected traffic signal phasing, and advanced stop lines or bike boxes.

C. Where bike lanes are implemented, MassBike encourages more generous spacing than the minimum or standard bike lane widths found in national and state design manuals whenever possible. Wider bike lanes, or painted buffers next to the bike lane, improve bicyclist safety by providing greater clearance from parked cars on the right and from moving traffic on the left. Often, the extra roadway space that can make a lot of difference for bicyclist safety can be found by making small reductions in the width of travel lanes and other roadway elements with no impact on motorist safety or road capacity.

D. MassBike supports vigorous adherence to the state’s Bicycle Accommodation Law, which requires that bicycle accommodation such as bike lanes, paved shoulders, or separated paths be included in any project rebuilding a state highway, or paid for with federal or state-controlled funds, unless there isn’t sufficient right-of-way. However, most bicycling takes places on local streets, to which this state law does not usually apply. Therefore, MassBike encourages cities and towns to similarly adopt a policy of providing bicycle accommodation wherever right-of-way permits whenever roads are repaved, altered, or reconstructed, except on low-speed, low-volume streets that bikes can safely share with motor traffic as is.

NOTE: In the event of a conflict or inconsistency between the new policy on bicycle facilities and the previously adopted policies below, the new policy represents MassBike’s official position.

(Policies 1 to 9 were approved by the Board of Directors on November 19, 2001. Policies 5A, 5C, 6A, and 6B were superseded by the 2010 policy above.)

1. Bicyclists Rights and Bicycle Facilities
MassBike supports the right of bicyclists to use the public roads of the Commonwealth and promotes the development of well-designed multi-user paths. MassBike advocates that cities and towns should design, maintain, and police roads with cyclists in mind. MassBike also supports responsible bicycling on dirt trails where bicycle use is permitted.

2. Public Awareness and Education

A. Motorist Education
MassBike advocates greater public awareness of the right of bicyclists to use the roads. Every motorist should understand that bicyclists have the same rights as other drivers of vehicles and subject to the same rules. This right derives from the common law, state statute, and a tradition dating to the 1860s. Driver education programs, the driver’s manual, and the driver’s license exam should all include material on the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists.

B. Bicyclist Education
MassBike encourages all cyclists using the roadway to follow the rules for drivers of vehicles, both for their own safety and to promote acceptance of cyclists as legitimate road users. When using paths, bicyclists should also follow the rules of the road and should use care at intersections. MassBike believes that cyclists should learn how to operate their vehicles safely and efficiently, whether through informal learning from other knowledgeable cyclists or through formal instruction. MassBike also promotes age-appropriate education for young cyclists in both basic skills and in learning the rules of the road. MassBike encourages all cyclists to wear a well-fitted helmet every time they ride, whether on roads, paths, or trails.

3. Traffic Enforcement
MassBike encourages police to enforce the rules of the road evenhandedly, with the goal of improving public safety through better compliance with the law. Police and prosecutors should protect cyclists under the law by treating cyclists equitably in cases of collision and by prosecuting those motorists who threaten or attack cyclists. Police officer training should include knowledge of the rules of the road with respect to bicycling. MassBike defends cyclists who are prosecuted for lawful use of the road.

4. Sidewalk Bicycling
MassBike discourages adult and teenage cyclists from riding on sidewalks, which are designed for pedestrians. In addition to the risk of colliding with pedestrians, cyclists who ride on sidewalks and crosswalks face danger from vehicles turning into or entering from driveways and side streets. In some circumstances, bicyclists may find it convenient to ride at walking speed on sidewalks for a short distance, such as to avoid a circuitous route due to one-way street systems.

5. Roads for Bicycling
According to Massachusetts law, the only roads not open to cyclists are divided express highways with full or partial access control (that is, without commercial or residential driveways), where signs prohibiting cyclists are posted. MassBike supports the removal of signs in other locations unlawfully prohibiting bicycling.

A. Road Design (superseded by 2010 policy above)

B. Rural and Scenic Roads
Bicyclists are attracted to Massachusetts’ many scenic, lightly traveled roads. MassBike does not advocate indiscriminate widening of these roads. Although they are often narrow, traffic is generally light enough that motorists can readily use the left side of the road to pass. However, on roads with heavy traffic, a small increase in the paved width of a road may permit motorists to pass bicyclists safely without crossing into the next lane (opposite or same-direction), improving safety and convenience for both cyclists and motorists with minimal impact on the character of the road. Share the Road signs should be used on narrow roads with significant traffic.

C. Bike Lanes (superseded by 2010 policy above)

D. Maintenance Roads should be maintained free of sand, gravel, ridges, and holes. Every spring, towns should remove the sand deposited in the winter. Filling longitudinal cracks and removing unsafe drain grates should be a high priority, since these can cause very serious falls. Local governments and the state highway department should have a reporting system so that bicyclists can notify them of problems.

6. Multi-Use Paths for Bicycling (superseded by 2010 policy above)

A. Path Design (superseded by 2010 policy above)

B. Sidepaths (superseded by 2010 policy above)

7. Bicycling and Public Transportation
Bringing bicycles on common carriers, including planes, buses, trains, and ferries, should be permitted to the greatest extent feasible. These vehicles should be designed or retrofitted to carry bicycles. Covered and secure parking should be provided at all public transit stations. The availability of these services should be advertised to the public.

8. Bicycle Parking and Storage
MassBike supports the revision of zoning ordinances to require some bicycle parking whenever automobile parking is required. If the automobile parking is covered, the bicycle parking should be covered as well. The zoning ordinance should specify the acceptable quantity, design, and location of bicycle parking.
Cities and towns should provide bicycle lockup racks on public property near the entrances of businesses and in other locations likely to be frequented by bicyclists. Employers should provide safe and convenient bicycle storage and showers and lockers for their employees who cycle to work. Building owners should allow bicycles belonging to employees or residents to be brought inside buildings and into elevators. Public garages should provide bicycle racks, preferably within view of the lot attendant.

9. Theft Prevention
MassBike encourages bicyclists to register their bicycles, to place identifying information inside the bicycle, and to lock their bicycles securely. MassBike encourages police departments to assist in recovering stolen bicycles and to apprehend bicycle thieves.

10. Meetings of the Board of Directors
MassBike board meetings are open to any member or prospective member. We ask that everyone who attends a board meeting be a current member, or pledge to become one. The purpose of board meetings is for the Board of Directors to debate and decide on policies and programs for MassBike; decide on courses of action to seek funding and the allocation of available funding to enable the organization to fulfill its mission.
To add a topic to a board meeting agenda contact the president of the board of directors by email or telephone at least 48 hours in advance of the scheduled meeting date. You will receive an acknowledgement from the president. Describe the issue(s) you would like to discuss with the board.

If the board meeting agenda is already full, or you are unable to provide the requested 48-hour notice, the president will discuss with you allocating time on the next board meeting’s agenda, or set up a time to discuss it outside of a regularly-scheduled board meeting.

(This is a condensed version of the policy approved by the Board of Directors on March 8, 1999.)

11. Privacy
MassBike takes its commitment to members very seriously. We will not give out your phone number or email address. In order to let more people know about MassBike and grow our membership, we will occasionally trade lists of postal mail addresses with other organizations that share common values. We do not sell our mailing list. Unless you specifically provide MassBike with your contact information, your visits to our website are anonymous. MassBike does not track personal information of visitors to our website. As a MassBike member, you should know that you can tell us not to share your mailing address. Please contact us via email at bikeinfo@massbike.org or phone at 617-542-2453 and we will gladly make these changes.
(Approved by the Board of Directors, January 31 2005.)