May is National Bike Month, and it’s being celebrated in Boston and other cities and towns across the country.
The initiative includes challenges and events that highlight the benefits of bicycling to encourage more people to give bicycling a try, regardless of whether they are riding a bicycle to commute to work or with their families for fun and fitness.
Like the group says on its website: “Life is better for everyone when more people ride bikes.”
As a sponsor of National Bike Month, the League of American Bicyclists provides a variety of resources for states, communities, and organizations interested in contributing to a bicycle-friendly America and issues a bicycle-friendly report card for each state.
Massachusetts Ranked as 5th Most Bicycle Friendly State
The League of American Bicyclists ranked Massachusetts as the fifth most bicycle-friendly state in the country. (Washington was ranked number one, with Oregon, Minnesota, and California claiming the other top four spots.)
In Massachusetts, approximately 8% of commuters ride bicycles to work. Only nine states have more bicycle commuters. Massachusetts also averages 3.3 fatalities per 10,000 bicycle commuters. Only eight states have fewer fatalities.
In determining Massachusetts’ ranking, the organization took into consideration the state’s:
• 14 bicycle-friendly communities (including Boston, Somerville, Lexington, Quincy, Brookline, Nantucket, and Provincetown)
• 34 bicycle-friendly businesses
• 7 bicycle-friendly universities (including Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Boston University Medical Campus)
On its bicycle-friendly report card, Massachusetts scored an A in policies and programs and Bs in evaluation and planning, infrastructure and spending, and education and encouragement. When it comes to bicycling policies and programs, only Oregon scored a higher mark than Massachusetts.
Specifically, the state received high marks for:
• building and installing bicycle infrastructure.
• taking advantage of federal funding for bicycling and walking.
• supporting bicycling and walking events through MassDOT.
• having policies in place that allow for good design and access for bicyclists and walkers.
• having a comprehensive bicycle plan that follows best practices.
• emphasizing bicycle safety.
• having programs in place that collect data on bicyclists and walkers.
As for areas of improvement, the League of American Bicyclists honed in on Massachusetts’ biking legislation and enforcement. The group said the state lacks laws that create protections for bicyclists and pedestrians and unnecessarily restricts their behavior.
The group suggested that Massachusetts:
• Adopt a safe passing law that mandates a minimum distance of three feet to protect cyclists.
• Adopt a law that permits transportation agencies to post 20 miles per hour or lower speed limits under certain circumstances.
• Dedicate state funding for bicycle projects and make use of supplemental Federal funding.
• Adopt a vulnerable road user law that increases penalties for drivers who injure or kill bicycle riders or pedestrians.
• Allow photo enforcement of speed limits in school zones and other areas with a large number of bicyclists and pedestrians.
In Massachusetts, MassBike advocates for policies to improve the safety and accessibility of bicycling throughout the state.
Tips for Being a Smart Bicyclist
Of course, every person riding a bicycle should do their part to keep themselves and others safe by wearing a helmet, following all traffic rules, and refraining from cellphone use while on the road.
The League of American Bicyclists also suggests that cyclists:
• Do a basic bicycle check before hitting the road.
• Make sure their bicycles are properly adjusted.
• Make sure they know what gear is best for different bicycling situations.
• Share the trail by announcing when they are passing, always passing on the left, using lights at night, and yielding to slower bicycle riders.
You can access the organization’s tip sheets on how to ride safely and perform bicycle maintenance here.
To learn about how the bicycle attorneys at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers, LLC can help with a bicycle-related injury claim, call (617) 367-2900 or fill out our electronic form.