[Ed. Note: We revised this post to resolve some confusion among our advocacy partners.]
Sometimes it’s the seemingly little things that can make a big difference. We often work behind the scenes on the less-than-exciting minutia of government agencies. This involves many meetings, phone calls, and emails about things that most people never hear about, but have a big impact on the daily lives of cyclists in Massachusetts. We are able to do all of this because of the support of our wonderful members.
Last August, MassDOT (formerly MassHighway) issued an Engineering Directive (pdf) intended to clarify (1) the minimum standards for bicycle and pedestrian accommodation on roads statewide, and (2) the process for requesting an exception from those standards (in other words, how to ask for permission NOT to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians). Directives like this are used by MassDOT and engineers statewide to guide the design of road projects. While the state, with the help of MassBike and other advocates, has made great progress establishing more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly design standards, we thought this directive represented a step backward (though we are confident that was not MassDOT’s intention).
MassBike’s Technical Advisory Committee carefully analyzed the directive, then we organized a joint effort with MassBike, LivableStreets Alliance, WalkBoston, and the Institute for Human Centered Design, to bring these concerns to MassDOT’s attention. We all met with them today. (our memo about the directive pdf)
To MassDOT’s credit, they recognized that the directive was not as clear as it could have been, and invited the advocates to work with them to revise it. MassBike will work with the other groups on a revised directive and follow up with MassDOT. We appreciate MassDOT’s willingness to recognize the problem and work with us to solve it.