We had big plans for 2012, and we made them happen, but 2012 turned out to be an even bigger year for MassBike than we had imagined. We led the state in bicyclist advocacy on Capitol Hill and Beacon Hill, celebrated our 35th year of advocacy, supported dozens of bicycle events around the state, and kicked off our Bikeable Communities Program. MassBike has grown from a small group of volunteers in 1977 (then the Boston Area Bicycle Coalition), to a staff of four full-time professionals, four part-time instructors, a half-time intern, and dozens of volunteers. How far we’ve come!
We started 2012 by welcoming our new Membership and Office Coordinator, Austin Rand. He quickly revamped our member benefits and improved our social media and communications. He played a major role in organizing Bike Night: Beyond the Spandex, a gala featuring a bike fashion show, and the Summer Century & Family Fun Ride. Austin continues to develop new events and membership programs to make them even more fun and generate more support for our advocacy work.
2012 was a rollercoaster of a year for federal transportation funding and policy. When our Program Manager, Price, and I went to DC in March for the National Bike Summit, no one knew exactly what was going to happen with funding for bicycling. The House had just passed a bill essentially eliminating non-highway spending, and the Senate passed a bill that more or less maintained the status quo. We led Massachusetts advocates visiting our Representatives and our Senators, and our entire delegation was very supportive for our cause, truly “bike-partisan”. In the end, we didn’t get everything we wanted, but most bicycle funding was left intact. And now we’re leading the efforts here in Massachusetts to ensure that this money actually gets spent on biking and walking.
Returning home from Washington, we co-hosted the first Massachusetts Bike/Walk Summit at the State House on Beacon Hill with WalkBoston. The purpose of the event was to educate our state legislators about three safety-related bills that would benefit bicyclists and pedestrians. It was a very successful first-time event, featuring Streetsblog founder Aaron Naparstek giving the keynote presentation at lunch. Unfortunately, we didn’t get our Vulnerable Road Users Bill passed, but it was the first try for this bill, and we are confident that we have positioned it much better for passage because of the Summit.
The Summit was a highlight of Bay State Bike Week, the third year that we partnered with MassDOT to celebrate bicycling statewide. There were over 150 events from Cape Cod to the Berkshires, making Massachusetts the only state in the nation to have a truly statewide Bike Week. Thousands of bicyclists across the Commonwealth welcomed the riding season, celebrating bicycling and promoting bicycle safety at rides, breakfasts, screenings, classes, and more. Thanks to MassBike’s partnership with MassDOT, we were able to provide t-shirts, reflective ankle straps, bells and stickers to partner events. We are already in the planning stages for 2013, so stay tuned for details.
We also established a new partnership with the Department of Public Health through their Mass in Motion Program. Thanks to that partnership, we were able to launch our statewide Bikeable Communities Program, which expands local capacity for improving bicycling through education, technical support, and public engagement. This partnership also allowed us to bring on our fourth staff member, Samantha Markovitz. (PS – this is the most staff MassBike has ever had!) Thanks to this extra support, we have delivered four Bikeable Communities Trainings, undertaken three Bikeability Assessments, provided Bicycle Planning Support in three communities, and supported the establishment of a Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. We have even more projects lined up for next year, from the Berkshires to Boston and from Cape Ann to Cape Cod!
Our Education Program had its biggest year yet. We delivered bicycle safety education to thousands of children and adults through our Safe Routes to School Program, On-Bike Skills Classes, and Biking for Everyone Workshops. In fact, if you check our calendar right now, we are even holding some end-of-year Winter Bicycling Workshops around the City of Boston to help people stay safe and comfortable on the roads. These classes are made possible with the generous support of the Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness, which also sponsored our free valet bike parking at Circle The City and other events.
The best part of our work in 2012 is that it has set us up for an even better 2013. We are putting together a bigger, better legislative agenda to build off of the awareness raised at the Bike/Walk Summit; we are already planning the next Bay State Bike Week with MassDOT; we are excited to be a partner organization in Transportation for Massachusetts, a coalition of advocacy groups seeking to increase state support for biking, walking and transit; and we have plans to expand our Bikeable Communities Program. The bottom line, though, is that we couldn’t do any of this work without the support of our members from around the state. It is only through the membership and donations of thousands of bicyclists around the state that we can be your voice to local, state and federal leaders. So I thank you for your support, and promise to continue our success in 2013.