You may have heard about how Massachusetts and Boston have been on the rise as great places to bike. A recent report released by the Alliance for Biking and Walking confirms it! This report is good news for MassBike, which for 35 years has been partnering with other advocacy and governmental organizations to make cycling a safe, fun, and accessible mode of transportation throughout Massachusetts.
Looking at the report closely, it shows encouraging trends on the prevalence of biking in Boston and Massachusetts. Boston maintains one of the lowest bike and pedestrian fatality rates of any US city and Massachusetts boasts the ninth-lowest fatality rate of any state. Meanwhile, funding for biking and walking projects has continued to steadily increase both within Boston as well as across the Commonwealth. It is always encouraging to see an upward trend since, as this report points out, biking and walking makes serious contributions to improved public health, less traffic congestion, and better air quality.
But despite this positive news for MassBike and the Bay State, there are still serious challenges facing bikers. First, it is important to note that the statistics from this report combine the numbers for both biking and walking. We all know that Boston is “America’s Walking City”, and it is unclear how much of the #1 ranking is a result of walking as opposed to biking statistics.
When you drill down a little more, you can see some figures that indicate biking still has a long way to go. In Boston as well as statewide, around 70% of those who commute to work by bike are men. (It has often been noted that women are more risk averse than men, and so higher levels of women biking usually indicate a safer biking environment.) And our rate of fatalities for children under 16 is about 50% higher than the national average, indicating a strong need to improve facilities and bike education for our youngest cyclists.
MassBike is ready for the challenge of closing gaps in bike usage and safety, especially with events like Bay State Bike Week and our advocacy for the Vulnerable Road Users Bill. Here’s to an even better 2013!