MassBike Tackles Seasonal Worker Bike Safety On Cape Cod

SummerMV

Photo: MassBike

Cape Cod is fondly regarded as a top bike-friendly destination in Massachusetts with its rail trails, scenic byways, and frequent organized rides. But local residents and officials have recently been sounding the alarm about bicycle safety for the thousands of seasonal workers who flock to the area every summer to work in restaurants and resorts.

MassBike and it’s partners on the Cape are looking to find solutions to tackle this growing safety issue.

Every summer, student workers come from countries across the globe with special temporary work visas to meet the seasonal surge in demand for service industry employees. Without access to a car, many of these workers take to bicycles as their primary mode of transportation. This poses a safety concern because these workers are often out late at night when their shifts end, riding bikes of questionable condition, without lights, wearing dark clothing, and unfamiliar with the rules of the road.

Seasonal worker bicycle safety was one of the issues that emerged at last November’s Cape Cod Bicycle Summit, and one which MassBike and it’s partners throughout the Cape are working to address. After the Cape Cod Bike Summit, an ad hoc coalition bringing together county officials, the regional transit agency, law enforcement, bicycle advocates, and public health officials was formed to address issues around bicycle safety.

MassBike Executive Director David Watson recently attended a coalition meeting in Barnstable convened by Sheila Lyons, Barnstable County Commissioner. Other meeting attendees included MassBike Cape Cod and Islands Chapter President Rob Miceli, Orleans Police Department Detective Kevin Higgins, Barnstable County Sean DPHE Environmental Specialist Sean O’Brien, Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority Project Manager Julie Quintero-Schulz, Cape Cod Commission Planner Martha Hevenor, Barnstable County Mass In Motion coordinator Vaira Harik, and others.

Many ideas to boost seasonal work bicycle safety were explored, but discussion focused on four main areas of interest:

  1. Talking about bike safety directly with seasonal workers at orientation sessions and outreach events.
  2. Distributing bike lights and helmets either directly to seasonal workers or to landlords and business owners who often supply bicycles for seasonal workers.
  3. Developing effective strategies for law enforcement to educate and enforce rules of the road for both drivers and bicyclists.
  4. Building driver awareness by sending out a bicycle safety pamphlet with the vehicle excise tax mailing and other strategies.

The goal of the coalition is to develop specific safety programs that will be rolled out for the upcoming Summer 2014 tourist season. Stay tuned for updates.

One Response to MassBike Tackles Seasonal Worker Bike Safety On Cape Cod

  1. LA February 7, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    As a Cape native and avid cyclist I need to chime in about this…

    Certainly this is an issue; as evidenced by the collisions, injuries, and fatalities that occur during the Summer involving these seasonal workers. I also strongly agree that these initiatives to better educate drivers and cyclists is a step in the right direction…

    …however, the problem I see that is not being addressed so far is this:
    the Cape is a huge driving destination, not just for MA residents, but from people from all 50 states and Canada. Often time these drivers are in their luggage laden cars, in slow moving traffic, unaware that there might be a cyclist on the rather narrow streets they are driving on. They are distracted by attractions, other cars, where there hotel is, where the beach is, and where the restaurant that someone suggested is. THIS will not be remedied by pamphlets and excise tax mailers.

    The true bane of Cape cycling is infrastructure. The bike paths are nice, but they are almost purely recreational, as none of them service the major commercial centers of the Cape. Rt. 28, Rt. 132 (even now off a major redesign which was unfortunately far too car-centric), Rt.6A, Rt. 149, Race Lane, Rt. 130, Willow St (exit 7), Station Ave/Union St. (just to name a few) are all major arteries that need to incorporate some kind of bike-related infrastructure because they are sorely lacking. Too narrow, too busy, and not even a hint of a bike-lane anywhere. Only Rt. 134 has incorporated a bike-lane in it’s new version. With infrastructure, you can more clearly assign responsibility and (god forbid) if/when a collision occurs, culpability.

    This, along with education and reach out initiatives, is the only way any of this is going to begin to work… because without changing the dynamic of the roadways, the bike will always be marginalized.