BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs are pleased to announce the League of American Bicyclists has ranked Massachusetts number 1 in the country in the organization’s 2022 Bicycle Friendly State Report Card released today. The League gives Massachusetts the grade of “A” in the categories: Infrastructure & Funding, Education & Encouragement, and Policies & Programs: Policies & Programs: https://bikeleague.org/content/new-2022-bicycle-friendly-states-rankings-massachusetts.
“Investing in recreational and shared use pathways not only provides connections for people to exercise, relax, or commute, but they also foster a sense of stewardship and a shared stake in our parklands, open spaces and trails,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are grateful to the League of American Bicyclists for this recognition and will continue to work with our partners at the local level to build upon this important progress.”
“It has been a pleasure to work with municipal leaders in the last several years to improve our trail networks and roadways to promote bicycling as a way to travel,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Partnerships with city and town leaders, bicycle advocates and non-profit groups have enabled us to expand and connect the Commonwealth’s networks of on-road and off-road shared use pathways, bike lanes and recreational trails.”
“We are pleased the League has recognized how far Massachusetts has come since 2015 with creating bicycle infrastructure, increasing funding for capital projects, educating the public about bicycling and integrating multimodal policies and approaches with the work we do at MassDOT,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler. “In particular, we are proud of how we have worked with municipal leaders to increase bicycle travel, especially due to the launch of the Shared Streets & Spaces Funding Program in 2020, which has helped people safely travel and which has given local businesses a boost as they pivoted to doing business differently during the pandemic.”
“Since coming into office, the Baker-Polito Administration has taken a hands-on approach to increasing access to our natural and recreational resources through the expansion of Massachusetts’ network of trails, shared-use paths, and bike lanes,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “In addition to providing a healthy opportunity to get outdoors, increasing safe biking opportunities is an important part of the commonwealth’s climate friendly transportation strategy.”
The League’s 2022 Bicycle Friendly State Report Card cites several bicycle friendly actions taken in Massachusetts, including implementation of a Complete Streets policy, implementation of a state-wide bike plan, the expenditure of 2% or more of federal funds on bicycle/pedestrian needs, and an emphasis on bicycle safety.
Steps taken by the Baker-Polito Administration since 2015 to support and promote bicycling include:
In 2016, the Complete Streets Funding Program was created to encourage communities to incorporate Complete Streets principles into regular local planning and design practices, ensuring safe and accessible travel for all local roadway users regardless of age or ability. Applications from municipalities for the next funding round are due May 1. Since its start, the program has awarded a total of $77.4 million through 418 grant awards. This translates to many miles of new sidewalks, trails, paths, and bicycle lanes as well as safety improvements including pedestrian crossings, intersection reconfigurations, road diets, and much more.
In 2019, MassDOT released its Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plans with a dedicated $60 million five-year capital program to support implementation to make biking and walking a safe, comfortable, and convenient option for everyday travel and short trips. In Massachusetts, 27% of all trips are under 1/2 mile, and 61% of all trips are under three miles, (an approximately 16 minute bicycle ride.) The plans focus on proactively addressing barriers that discourage walking and bicycling and proactively creating high comfort networks and facilities to make bicycling a safe option. Information: Bicycle Plan | Mass.gov. Later, in 2021, MassDOT published an update on projects and progress: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/446e35bc40614e5aaced4a62ff7343b2
In 2019, MassDOT developed the Municipal Resource Guide for Bikeability in recognition of the important role the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts play. Created for municipal staff, elected officials, community members, and anyone interested in biking, the Resource Guide introduces core concepts to enhance community bikeability and directs readers to additional resources for more detailed information.
The Administration also launched the MassTrails program in order to expand and connect the Commonwealth’s networks of off-road, shared use pathways and recreational trails for all users across Massachusetts by providing matching grants, technical assistance and resources to individuals, municipalities, non-profits, and other public entities to design, construct, and maintain high quality trails. For Fiscal Year 2021, $2.5 million was programmed into the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) state funded capital budget for MassTrails grants. A further $1.2 million in federal share funding was programmed in the STIP under the Recreational Trails Program for a total of nearly $4 million in funding. In addition, communities were to provide a proposed match of $2.6 million.
MassTrails grant funding in Fiscal Year 2021 was anticipated to directly impact more than 150 communities. Funding included $80,000 for a feasibility study and concept design for a Mystic River Path connection to the Minuteman Bikeway in Arlington and Medford, $300,000 to the Town of Belchertown Conservation Commission for design and permitting of the Belchertown Greenway-Mass Central Rail Trail project, and $100,000 to the City of Gardner for design and permitting of the Downtown North Central Pathway Connector.
In 2020, the Shared Streets and Spaces Program was launched and to date has awarded a total of $33 million dollars to 183 municipalities and four transit authorities to implement 310 projects. The program provides funding to make improvements to plazas, sidewalks, curbs, streets, bus stops, parking areas, and other public spaces in support of public health, safe mobility, and strengthened commerce. Shared Streets and Spaces has helped municipalities Shared Streets and Spaces has helped municipalities to reimagine their streets not only as thoroughfares for vehicles but as civic spaces with a range of uses for all members of the public, no matter an individual’s age, ability, or preferred ways of getting around.
Funding: in addition to the $1.56 billion in annual municipal transportation aid provided since 2015 through the Chapter 90 Program, the Baker/Polito Administration has facilitated the investment of an additional $178 million through current and future innovative grant opportunities targeted at addressing various municipal needs or transforming local roadways into multimodal networks. For additional information please visit the League’s website: www.bikeleague.org.
Additional information on the Commonwealth’s initiatives in support of walking and bicycling can be found on the Trails Team website: https://www.mass.gov/welcome-to-masstrails. MassTrails is an inter-agency initiative of the Commonwealth led by the Governor’s Office in collaboration with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
“MassDOT is focused on safety for all users and this includes bike and pedestrian facilities,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “Through innovative initiatives like our Healthy Streets policy to expanded funding sources like Complete Streets or Shared Streets and Spaces we remain dedicated to engineering safety solutions and funding construction on all roadways in the Commonwealth.”
“The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is proud to be part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s success in creating and improving shared use pathways and trails across the Commonwealth, including connections to our exceptional State Parks System where bicyclists and other users will find plenty of places to explore,” said Acting DCR Commissioner Stephanie Cooper.
“We’re excited to see Massachusetts rewarded for the many bike-friendly initiatives that have made bicycling better across the state,” said Galen Mook, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition. “Across the commonwealth, we are seeing improvements in communities from the Berkshires to Cape Cod due to statewide policies and programs such as MassTrails, Complete Streets, and the Shared Streets and Spaces grants, all focused by a robust Bicycle Transportation Plan. We’re grateful to have strong partners in our work, and MassBike looks forward to supporting the expansion of these policies and future initiatives that ensure equitable access to safe and enjoyable bicycling for everyone across Massachusetts.”
For additional information on Commonwealth of MA initiatives for multi-modal travel, please visit: shared streets and spaces program ma – Search (bing.com) or https://www.mass.gov/complete-streets-funding-program