You may have noticed our recent strong support for bicycle facilities, like bike lanes on the Longfellow Bridge. In the past, MassBike garnered a reputation as an organization that was “finicky” when it comes to bicycle infrastructure. For better or worse, we sometimes got wrapped up in theoretical debates about bicycle facilities that, even if not perfect, were practical solutions to real problems. And our official policies at the time did not give us clear guidance on how to move forward.
But as times change, ideas change. We want everyone to know that MassBike is 100% committed to promoting bicycle infrastructure, even if that means taking some risks on new ideas. Moving forward, we want MassBike to be on the cutting edge of promoting bicycle facilities, so we have adopted a completely new policy on bicycle infrastructure. Drafted by our volunteer Technical Advisory Committee (whose hard work we gratefully acknowledge) and adopted by our Board of Directors, the new policy definitively says “YES!” to bicycle facilities – whether they are traditional, innovative, or even experimental. So while, for the last several years, we have been working hard to turn MassBike into a lean, mean, bicycle facilities promoting machine, we now have it in writing.
You can read our new policy below. This policy will guide our future actions, and support our desire to get more bicycle facilities built and filled with happy bicyclists.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.