The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is announcing that the Draft Massachusetts Bicycle Transportation Plan is now available for public comment. Members of the public may review the plan and provide feedback online here. Comments are due by January 31st.
MassDOT is focused on making the Commonwealth’s transportation system more sustainable – to make it safe for people to choose to walk, bike, and take transit for more of their daily trips. The Plan is important because residents, members of the business community and visitors choose to use a bicycle for daily trips, choosing bike to work, to school, to run errands, for recreation or to reach transit locations.
The Draft Plan defines a vision for Massachusetts in which all people have a safe and comfortable cycling option for short trips. The goal is to have a plan which presents an action-oriented strategy which will lead to increased use of trails for short trips made by bicycling. Travel on designated bike and pedestrian thoroughfares will also lead to safer conditions, helping to prevent injuries and fatalities. The draft plan goes into further detail about the state of biking today. The underlying principles are:
- Principle 1: Treat all people the same regardless of travel mode: For decades, transportation planning prioritized automobile travel over all other modes. This orientation has led to transportation and land use decisions that focus on making driving more convenient and safer, often at the expense of other travel modes including walking, bicycling and transit. MassDOT aims to update its practices to provide the same considerations for people biking as we do for drivers by implementing the initiatives in the Bike Plan.
- Principle 2: Address gaps and barriers known to discourage everyday biking: Missing links – bike lanes and paths – in bicycle networks are a primary reason people choose not to bicycle. A bike network is only as attractive as its weakest link – and that doesn’t always mean a missing section of bikeway. Other top barriers to everyday biking are uncomfortable crossings, poor maintenance and snow removal practices, lack of lighting, difficult or insufficient connectivity to transit, and a lack of bike parking.
- Principle 3: Lead by example and partner with municipalities to advance everyday biking: MassDOT’s design standards and interpretations of design flexibility have a profound impact on biking throughout the state, both because they set an example that individual communities look to, and because they influence project funding. Additionally, the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts own and maintain 81% of the state’s roadway network—roadways that, for the most part, have high potential for everyday biking. Realizing this great potential requires MassDOT to partner with and support municipalities.
The Action Plan lays out a set of new initiatives and related actions to address identified needs to meet the plan goals. The six initiatives include:
- Initiative 1: Build connected bicycle and trail networks with local, regional, and state partners and close critical gaps.
- Initiative 2: Integrate and promote the safety, comfort, and convenience of people biking in transportation and development projects.
- Initiative 3: Promote roadway safety through education and programs for people driving, people bicycling, and potential everyday bicyclists.
- Initiative 4: Increase the convenience of biking as an everyday travel option for people of all ages and abilities.
- Initiative 5: Launch the development of a year-round maintenance and operations plan for MassDOT-owned bikeways and support municipalities to do the same.
- Initiative 6: Invest in data collection and evaluation to inform and track the progress of Initiatives 1 through 5.
In addition to the Plan, a companion document was created, called the Municipal Resource Guide for Bikeability, in recognition of the important role local cities and towns play. The purpose of the guide is to support cities and towns in their efforts to improve bikeability as the vast majority of roadways and shared use paths statewide are under local ownership. A draft guide was released in November of 2018 and an updated version will be published with the final Bicycle Plan early next year.
The Massachusetts Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board served as the steering committee for the plan. Over the last two years, the Bicycle Plan and Municipal Resource Guide for Bikeability were informed by public feedback and data analysis.
For more information on the Bicycle Plan and to provide feedback: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/bicycle-plan.