The City Will Talk About Bikes for Four Hours at Faneuil Hall
For the sixth year in a row, hundreds of cyclists are expected to roll-up to an informational meeting to talk about all of the upcoming bike-related projects that city officials are planning on implementing in Boston. They will also get the chance to tell officials what changes need to be made in order to accommodate those that choose to travel on two wheels.
At the annual “Boston Bike Update,” a nearly four-hour presentation and Q&A session, hosted by the non-profit LivableStreets, community members will be encouraged to engage with bike advocates and the city’s resident “bike czar,” Nicole Freedman, while learning about what construction projects are slated to reshape the streets.
“It’s an opportunity for anyone in the city—whether they bike or not—to ask the questions that they have been wanting to ask,” said Kara Oberg, program manager for LivableStreets, of the March 31 event. “It mostly will be about biking in Boston, but also about how it fits into the bigger system and into the transportation network in general.”
LivableStreets advocates for cycling by working with grassroots bike organizations, but their greater mission is to improve overall transportation needs—from walking to public transit—in the area.
Oberg said that Freedman, director of the city’s Boston Bikes program, has a presentation lined up for a majority of the event at the end of the month. While she has the floor, she’s scheduled to talk about some of the biggest plans Boston has seen in quite some time, including the Connect Historic Boston project, a loop connecting all of the historic spots in the Downtown area, as well as the city being one of six in the country chosen to expedite the construction of new bike lanes through a special grant.
Mayor Marty Walsh, who will deliver remarks on March 31, recently said these projects would help Boston go from one of the best bicycling cities in the country, to one of the best in the world. “Investing in protected bike lanes is a critical path to that success,” he said.
Pete Stidman, executive director of the Boston Cyclists’ Union, said the Boston Bike Update is a great place to ask Freedman the tough questions and learn about what the city’s up to. “And they’re unveiling some really cool new initiatives this year like one that will highlight women’s cycling,” he said.
Stidman’s only critique over the years has been that, as a city event, it could also be a place where the work of all the city’s neighborhood bike activists are highlighted. “There are all these great small groups doing stuff, like Commonwheels in Allston, RozzieBikes in Roslindale, and the Bowdoin Bike School in Dorchester. It’s a missed opportunity for these grassroots groups to also let the wider community know what they’ve been up to,” he said.
Because there has been a surge in cyclists recently, the venue has been changed from the Boston Public Library to Faneuil Hall, which can seat up to 800 people. Oberg said they are already expecting up to 600 attendees, and wouldn’t be surprised if the event were at capacity come the end of the month. “Biking has come a long way in the last six years. It has doubled. It’s really exciting,” she said.
Oberg said attendees that show up on their bikes will be greeted by MassBike, who will park them valet-style.
The event is free, and open to public, but people can make donations online. Money donated to the cause helps support Livable Streets, to help them push the message of importance for better biking, walking, and transit in the region. There will be an after party following the presentation, giving cyclists a chance to network, connect, and talk about ways Boston can improve it’s infrastructure.
Event organizers will be using the Twitter hashtag “#BostonBikeUpdate” to keep the conversation going online. To register for the event, visit Livable Streets’ sign-up page.