Archive for September, 2013

Dotbike forced to go rogue

Monday, September 30th, 2013

The first neighborhood grass roots bicycle advocacy group was Dotbike. JP and Rossie bikes were right there, but overall Dot can lay claim to the first organizational efforts. When we first started, two regular Dotbikers were on the Boston Bikes committee. I’m not sure of their status today, but from this vantage point Dotbike has given up trying to directly influence the direction of Boston Bikes since obviously whatever we say has been outright ignored.

Of course dotrider blog has been known to be a moaner, but guess what it’s well deserved folks. Here’s the latest.

Boston Bikes has organized a bike count to go on over these two weeks. When we went to the site to look we saw only three sites anywhere near Dorchester. One on the northern reach of Dot Ave. Another at Blue Hill Ave and Glenway (by Franklin Park) and a third on the Harbor Trail down near Milton. So, to the average person that might look great as we have three major access points to Dot covered right?

The only problem is that most of the folks who ride bicycles here dont’ eveer LEAVE town. If you ride at all around Dorchester you’ll be struck by the number of riders without helmets riding into traffic or on the sidewalk in old under maintained bikes that usually need some air in their tires. That’s an over generalization, but I think you get the point.

There is a significant portion of Dorchester’s riding population that doesn’t use the major roadways and only travels within the confines of Dorchester.

Two Dotbikers e-mailed the Boston Bikes person involved. It took a second e-mail prompt from one of them to get a breathless apology without addressing the main question at hand. My first response to the e-mail where the person managing the bike count said they hadn’t been looking at their e-mail much was, “Huh????? if you’re managing a bike count wouldn’t most of the communication be carried out via e-mail? Why would someone not be checking their e-mail if that was their job?”

Meanwhile Dotbike has organized our own internal neighborhood bike counts at three internal Dorchester locations. The Dot Ave location is far enough south that it can get the folks headed over to Mass Ave (another site not used that is a stream of riders heading into town each day if you’re looking for only commuters btw…

Only today now that we’ve planned our entire bike count have we heard from anyone related to that and it’s not even clear if they’re interested in our data.

Certainly Dot is different than the rest of the city. Dotriderblog posted hundreds of pictures up until last year of folks riding bicycles in Dorchester. We analysed the results given our data was random enough and we thought we had good data. Well if you look a few years back on this blog you’ll see all that data analyzed. We had 70% of riders NOT wearing helmets. The minority and poor rider numbers are in there as well. Over the past year I can say we haven’t seen enough folks riding into or through town to significantly alter that number. In fact when Dotrider did a bike count at Blue Hill Avenue last week easily 40% of the riders were on the sidewalk and 60-70% of those riding failed to have a helmet. So even Boston Bikes Dot data will show things haven’t changed… Of course with may be 60 folks counted in 2 hours we’ll be under represented.

Why? After I finished the count I rode the 2 miles via backroads from Blue Hill to Codman Square. In that short ride I counted 25 bikes, while in the last hour at Blue Hill I saw just 18… Sort of prima facia evidence that our conclusions will be justified by our data. Keep an eye out here for that.

But the real question is why? Why does Boston Bikes just treat Dorchester like it doesn’t exist? I’m prone to believe Boston Bikes spent more TIME getting Hubway organized in Cambridge and Somerville than it ever has in Dorchester.

Ignore us at your peril. We’ve gone quiet because we got tired of wasting our breath. We saw something worthwhile and suddenly there were about 10 of us volunteering. Give us support and listen to us and we’d be one of the best community bike groups ever. The folks I see on Dotbike are long time residents, community activists and bike riders. Some of us have been riding these streets since the 1970s and even without any improvements we’ll still be riding them in the 2020s and beyond.

Work with us Boston Bikes. Please stop ignoring us.