As a result of the tragic accidents, the past few months have been emotional for the cycling community in Boston. As representatives for that community within city government, the outpouring of concern, thoughtfulness, and call to action from our fellow riders has especially touched the Boston Bikes staff.
Mayor Menino referenced the importance of the close-knit community among cyclists in his letter to local papers recently. He underlined the importance of having a continued sense of urgency in understanding all accidents and the need to continue improving the streets better for riders. Boston Bikes has a number of initiatives underway, including the Bicycle Network Plan that is looking at connections citywide and will usher in a new level of coordination around infrastructure improvements. The network planning work will continue this winter, so look for a debut sometime this spring. What does it all mean? As our friend at BostonBiker.org put it — “more and better” — more bicycles and better infrastructure. We will still keep picking the low-hanging fruit, but we got out our ladders too.
There has been a range of stories in the media this summer and fall about cycling. Stories ranged from praising Hubway to highlighting safety concerns. On occasion some have even asked if bicycles belong on our streets. Through the Mayor’s leadership and the work of so many departments and agencies in the City (Transportation, Public Works, BRA, Boston Public Health Commission, Boston Police, Neighborhood Services, Parks Department, New Bostonians, and others) cycling is thriving in our City. So while some pundits may question if bikes belong on our streets, we know that question was answered a long time ago. The question is “how many bicycles do we want on our streets?” Answer: A lot more!
Without getting into specific numbers and data this fact is clear: bicycle ridership is soaring. Our staff feels it on our daily commutes. There are bicycle traffic jams on the Southwest Corridor at Ruggles and this is happening on forty-degree days! But there are more riders waiting to get on a bicycle and we want them to feel safe, too. Preliminary data shows that accidents are about level from last year, even with a significant increase ridership. The City is committed to understanding all bicycle accidents better with the forthcoming analysis of police reports. This report on bicycle accidents will help shape our continued actions on safety through engineering, enforcement, and education.
As the Mayor said, “the degree of separation from a bicycle accident is not too far for many of us. Take the time to say hello to your fellow cyclist at a red light this week. Thank them for riding. Thank them for cutting health care costs. For cleaning our air. For making our city vibrant. For being economical. For being part of Boston’s biking community.”
It is in the spirit of this strong community, of which Boston Bikes is proud to be a part, that we continue onward, standing up out of the saddle, leaning into the wind, and helping improve the City we love to view by two-wheels.