The MABPAB is the Massachusetts Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board, which is a very important forum for MassBike to influence statewide policy on bicycling. The MABPAB was established by law, championed by MassBike and WalkBoston, to “oversee the state’s bicycle and pedestrian activities and advise the bicycle and pedestrian program office [now part of MassDOT].” Bicycling advocates occupy seven seats on the board, appointed by the Governor. The board meets monthly and often invites transportation officials for Q&A sessions; recent guests include the Secretary of Transportation and Boston’s Director of Bike Programs. The board often sends comment letters to the Governor and agency heads offering advice on bicycle and pedestrian issues both general and project-specific.
Highlights from yesterday’s MABPAB meeting:
- Federal stimulus money is funding a number of bicycle and pedestrian projects, including $4.8M for secure bike cages and other bike parking at MBTA stations, $3.6M for the Alewife Greenway to connect Somerville and Medford to the Minuteman Bikeway and Alewife Station, $8M for Nonantum Road in Watertown including significant bike/ped improvements, and over $15M for the North Bank Pedestrian Bridge from Cambridge to Charlestown.
- $30M in funding for 12 bridges needed for the 48-mile Blackstone River Bikeway project has been “lost” due to the transfer of Accelerated Bridge Program resources from DCR to MassDOT.
- Boston got $20M in federal stimulus funding to resurface 27 miles of roads, including adding 4 miles of bike lanes (the other roads are not suitable for bike lanes).
- Boston has changed its policies on minimum road lane widths and will now consider 7-ft parking lanes and 10-ft travel lanes, which will free up additional space for bicycle and pedestrian accommodations such as bike lanes and wider sidewalks.
- The board endorsed a letter to MassDOT supporting the addition of bicycle and pedestrian accommodations to the Whittier Bridge/I-95 Improvement Project in Newburyport, Amesbury, and Salisbury. This is a $300M project, one of five “mega-projects” in the Accelerated Bridge Program. While bikes/peds are not usually permitted on interstate highways in Massachusetts, this is the best opportunity available to provide a way for bicyclists and pedestrians to cross the Merrimack River to access Salibury, Amesbury, an expanding trail network and beaches.