Archive for August, 2014

#comeridewithus Twitter Campaign to @marty_walsh as well as any elected officials

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

So Dotriderblog has been evolving in our involvement in Twitter. It has been about six months or a year of being in the Twittersphere and we’re learning our way. The other social media format is fun but it is more social to this writer than Twitter. Twitter is more news and political, as much as the other primary option has its fill of politics.

Where Twitter has revealed itself to be effective is in drawing a response. You can send e-mails to government officials, elected or appointed, and it is as though there is not a return button on their e-mail. Off into the digital abyss of unreplied to e-mails. Meanwhile on Twitter, the very public nature of it tends to stimulate some form of response.

So, we are here today to promote our new hash tag. #comeridewithus.

The original inspiration to #comeridewithus was the last Boston Bikes ride of the season on August 29th. We remembered when Mayor Walsh had indicated he would go for a bike ride with Alston Bike guru Galen Mook. We checked and Marty has yet to go for his ride. What a perfect way to get him to ride? Invite him to his own event? Offer to pick him up at the door?

The invite went out via several digital modes and by golly we got a response. “Sorry Marty’s down the Cape on vacation. Perhaps another time.”

Well Saarrrright! Fired up by that the general membership of Dot Bike got fired up and invited City Councilors, State Reps and Senators to join us. Dot Bike has been joined by Rep Russell Homes before, so this isn’t unprecedented. However given the recent slide back on improving transportation alternatives for non-automobile users in the city, it’s time to get organized and raise our voices to remind our elected officials of the commitments made by their predecessors and current associates.

We got another “out of town” response from a local City Councilor. Now if we only knew where Marty is and who is hosting the Labor Day party down the Cape. What a hoot to crash that one on a bicycle? Nahhh… may be next year if we really need to get his attention. We’re hopeful that won’t be necessary.

For now we troll our Twitter feed daily to find a piece or link that argues for the efficacy of bicycles in terms of being a viable transportation alternative and a vehicle for economic development and growth. #comeridewithus graces every Tweet to @marty_walsh or other local politicians and transportation groups. If you’re there and you see them, please Favorite them and Retweet them with abandon. Thanks!

So folks, if you’re on the Twitter thing, #comeridewithus!!!! Beyond my daily Tweet use it with anyone who we send a cycle informative related Tweet. We only have like 300 followers, so we aren’t going to generate Shaq-like results, but hey! let’s try it!  If our local elected officials want to come join us for a ride, please do! We want you to see first hand what it is like to ride a bike in Dorchester. You can see for yourself how recent paving projects have not included any bike or improved pedestrian infrastructure. Instead we get new turn lanes.

I was noticing a new turn lane on Granite Ave this morning and had right arrows with ONLY underneath. I imagined CARS to be painted in the space between the arrows and the ONLY as looking at it that’s about ALL the arrows were intended to instruct. Bikes? Nothing.

It’s time we speak to our local officials and point out how that undermines a lot of their visions for a better, healthier, wealthier and less polluted city. They need to direct their planners and engineers to go back to the drawing board and use their brains to include more bicycle and pedestrian accommodation in EVERY road project!

Oh yeah, if you want to follow us @Lindsaywoolguy is my Twitter Handle… See you there!



While a home run is great working on your singles hitting stroke yields more long term results (Mayor Marty Come Ride With Us!)

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Dotbike met with the Boston Cyclists Union one week and representatives of the Mayor’s Boston Bikes the next. This blogger pressed the approach that “if it gets paved it gets painted” on both fronts. Even from among the ranks of Dotbikers, it is obvious that not everyone shares that view. We’ll endeavor to outline why this argument is one all bike advocacy and regional planning groups should adopt.

The BCU meeting saw us go over the tiresome often repeated exercise of choosing what streets needed attention. Like all of them was too much. Let’s focus on a few things and get a win. Meanwhile BCU’s general view is to work for cycletracks to be scattered across the city not to far from anyone. That’s a great goal and I’m all for that. However the Boston Bikes meeting revealed why striving for incremental gains is the best policy for today. Not that we won’t keep swinging for the fences where we can, but let’s play for some hits. The homers come when you’re hitting good.

Boston Bikes had few if any announcements of any significance to please any riders in Dorchester. There’s a hope that funding for Hubway to the rest of the City will be found and a plan installed in one fell swoop. Hazzaa! Otherwise sharrows on Geneva Ave. and new paint on Ballou Street as part of the Urban Trail are about it. That in spite of a huge state project on Gallivan Boulevard and Morton Street, paving on Washington from Codman Square to 4 Corners and any number of other DPW projects. NO PAINT NO NOTHING.

We got a sense that Boston Bikes hasn’t found its voice in the new Walsh Administration and the old line road planners sans Commissioner Timlin and Mayor Menino’s insistence have fallen back into their “find more speed and preserve parking” ways. It was brought to our attention that the overwhelming number of requests politicians here are for more parking and more room for cars. Bike advocates voices get drowned out even in the face of logic that says they are 100% right when it comes to creating a more sustainable and healthy transportation environment for all of us.

Given the situation above then why the paint everything approach? Data suggests the ridership increases when the perception of safety increases. The Field of Dreams, “Build it and They Will Come” mantra is true. So how do we get more riders who in turn will become advocates for further improvements to bike infrastructure? You start with what is easy and unobjectionable for the politicians to sell. A sharrow? What’s that? No problem, put it down is the thinking.

Why is this the best conclusion? This writer has been active in community life for all his life. His mother had him at the dump sorting bottles and piling newspapers in the 1960s. My mother’s efforts were directly attributed to the dump, which became a land fill, to remain open many years longer than projected thanks to the recycling that was done. My first introduction to small actions yielding big results.

During high school I got tired of offensive cigarette smoke in the bathrooms and watching my friends get suspended for smoking. As a student representative to the School Committee I brought forward a proposal to allow students to smoke at school (funny how times change huh?). We crafted it with 5 options beginning with being able to smoke at school events where adults could smoke with parental permission, to between class smoking at designated smoking areas in school. When I graduated we had before and after school smoking allowed and I learned that it got to the point where students could smoke at lunch but not study halls before anti-smoking for everyone turned that back. Yet for a time we had nearly smoke free bathrooms at my school and a lot fewer senseless suspensions.

Finally as a Dorchester resident, we worked a monthly volunteer staffed drop off site for FIVE years before the Menino Adminstration finally brought a full scale curbside recycling program to all of Boston. We had up to 800 cars a month and we parlayed that into a loud voice they newly elected Mayor couldn’t ignore even in the face of his cynically resistant Public Works Director. We learned about incremental improvements and being coopted from Mayor Flynn, which we took but we never lost site of our ultimate goal of a city-wide curbside program.

So, how do we get the Mayor and transportation planners to move to a more pro-active pedestrian and cyclists approach with their road planning? Give them the lowest bar to reach so they can at least get on the ladder. Then they will have more constituents looking for more improved pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. That will make it easier for them to say yes to more demanding requests in time.

This is especially true in Dorchester and other outlying neighborhoods that have a history of actually being suburban rather than urban. The Ashmont neighborhood I live in was one of the first ever Street Car suburbs and many of my neighbors thinking remains stubbornly 20th century suburban when it comes to transportation. Car first, last and always. Community groups are especially resistant offering up incorrect assessments of the impact of improved cycling infrastructure and firmly believing them. After all it is the prevailing wisdom in America. Cyclists are a minority. There are more of us every day, but not enough yet.

Incremental change will serve to entice new riders, educate drivers which will increase the number of advocates and weaken auto-centric resistance as we all get used to more bikes on our streets.

So Dotbike has a great approach working now. Let’s work with the entire community to bring as much biking infrastructure as we can. Let’s begin installing fix it stations around the community. There’s already plenty of bikes around, but it is true that a lack of access to repairing bikes is an impediment to regular riding. So donate NOW to their fix it station near Fields Corner.

Next, let’s invite Mayor Marty to go on a ride with us to get a sense of our perspective. He had agreed to one with Galen Mook. Galen did you ever collect? Let’s do it! We’ll pick you up at your house Marty and ride to City Hall. How about that?

Meanwhile let’s turn up the heat so we can get Boston Bikes the administrative support it needs to get back on track toward instituting the Toole Design 5-30 year transportation plan. Instead of waiting for a complete redesign with each street, let’s take what we can get. The easy ask. Hear that Marty? We want cycle tracks on Comm Ave sure. That would be great. We also want sharrows on both Washington Streets, lanes on Mass Ave, a new look at Dot Ave. We have other dreams, but we’ll take our time on those and take a commitment from the Mayor to instruct his planners to include some form of bicycle infrastructure in EVERY major paving and road restoration project.

So, y’all Let’s Do It!

Time to turn up the heat on new administration (Dotriderblog’s rant)

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

So the overall bike and pedestrian movement is all up in arms thanks to the lousy job done by city planners on the stretch of Comm Ave in front of BU. The City did a cozy deal with BU and left everyone’s comments in the trash bin. We get a wider T thanks to Fed regulations and more turn lanes too. Less pedestrian and bike accommodations are the result.

That resulted in this from Dot riders:

Hello Mayor Walsh? Nobody home? It’s time to wake up on this issue. It’s time to tell your man Gilloughly to wake up and realize it’s the second decade of the 21st Century, not 1975.

Boston Bikes has agreed to meet with Dot Bike and Boston Cyclists Union to discuss. Haven’t we done this before? Isn’t there a plan? Whatever happened to it. I guess it’s in the Mayor’s wash room as tissue paper. I recall no less than THREE meetings where we marked up maps of town with our dreams. Well none of that has changed.

What has changed is Washington Street (one in Dot and the other in JP from Egleston to Forest Hills) were paved w/o any bike paint anywhere. So was Geneva Ave. So was Warren Street. So was Gallivan Blvd. Last year we saw Mass Ave from Everett Square to South Bay get paved and painted. What’s new? Two turn lanes under the bridge. Thanks for nothing. We can go on, but only when we think of a street that has been paved. I’m sure the City has a nice list of them. We talked about that last time in moaning about the low hanging fruit theory that seems to have been long forgotten.

Hey whoever got the Mayor to say he would go for a ride with them, should pick up on that. Then we can show him all these places where his planners fell asleep. He can see for himself the benefits of riding around town. I’m ready. Anyone else? C’mon Mayor reach out and join us.

Well dotriderblog is feeling fired up. He is recalling the fire that lit a flame way back 20 years ago when the newly elected Mayor originally demurred to his infamously stubborn Public Works Director, Joe Cassazza. Joe brazenly told a City Council hearing he was going to wait 240 days to start a full scale curbside recycling program instead of the 60 days in the Mayor’s campaign promise. He suggested the heat from us advocates would be less than from the folks complaining that he did a lousy job. My reaction to others asking what we should do? “Turn up the heat!” was my response. A month and nearly 10,000 signatures later the phone rang with the Mayor’s Chief of Staff on the other end asking us to meet and learn of his plans to institute a full scale recycling program in 90 days….

Having to explain the same needs over and over again remind me of the time the Flynn Administration tried to Coop me into being the volunteer Block Captain Coordinator for Dorchester’s new bi-weekly newspaper recycling program. Once I realized there are 750 streets in Dorchester, I figured it was the City’s job. No more being coopted here.

We will begin by relaying any piece we see chronicalling the health and economic benefits of installing bike infrastructure will be heading your way. We’ll be pasting things everywhere in an effort to get you see that your dedication to improving the economic situation of us residents in the neighborhoods REQUIRES you to invest as heavily as possible in the best bike and pedestrian infrastructure possible.

So Mayor? We’re looking for the knob. Unbutton that collar and loosen your tie. It may be mid-August but it’s about to get hotter not more autumn-like.