Last Wednesday, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation hosted the Moving Together Conference, which is an annual conference bringing together bike and pedestrian advocates with state and municipal officials to discuss active transportation in the Bay State. This year’s theme was “Advancing Healthy Transportation with GreenDOT,” GreenDot being MassDOT’s comprehensive sustainability policy. We were especially excited when Secretary Rich Davey gave the Keynote Address and mentioned at least four joint initiatives in which MassBike played a major role!
This year’s conference was a particularly fruitful one for MassBike, as a few significant opportunities presented themselves to Executive Director David Watson while he was meeting with other advocates and public officials. The first was during the Q&A session with Secretary Davey when David brought up the many excellent programs the MBTA has rolled out, including better access for bikes, expanded bike parking and Pedal & Park locations, and bike-specific bus driver training. At David’s request, Sec. Davey was receptive to working on sharing these programs with the Regional Transit Authorities around the state, which often lack the resources to implement such programs on their own.
David spoke on a panel about educating roadway users, and the other panelists were from the MBTA and the RMV. So David took the opportunity to suggest incorporating some of the MBTA bus driver training material into the Commercial Driver’s License program run by the RMV. This would be a great step forward for bicyclist safety everywhere, because of the similar danger when bicyclists interact with buses and commercial trucks.
Finally, opportunity came knocking when David spoke with MassDOT staffers responsible for traffic management around construction zones. With all the work going on around the state due to the Accelerated Bridge Program and general road construction, narrow lanes, obstructed bike paths, and other obstacles around construction zones can make it frustrating and dangerous to bike in those areas. After his conversation, the ball has gotten rolling to revise the construction traffic management design standards to better accommodate bicyclists.
We’re looking forward to continuing work with MassDOT and other agency partners to improve biking conditions around the state. While these were preliminary conversations about some great changes, asking the question is often the most important step.