Reminiscent of a similar speech made last week by Prez O, Boston Bike Czar Nicole Freedman took to the pulpit Thursday night to deliver an update on the state of things. Since I could think of nothing more thrilling than enjoying the company of the only 350 people in Boston more self-righteous about cycling than yours truly, I dutifully attended.
Last week we found out that cyclists generally don’t like surprises like the proposed seven-fold increase in traffic fines. So, in much the same anticlimactic way that news outlets released the full text of the State of the Union address before the speech was given, Nicole Freedman outlined 99% of what she addressed Thursday night in a same-day Boston Globe column.
If you weren’t at the meeting, I highly suggest reading the column. Per usual with any bike-related article on Boston.com, feel free to skip the comments section.
Here are the main points of the night worth noting (in my mind, anyway):
- Number one has to be the following statistic from the program booklet: “Ridership increase 2007 through 2009: 122%” That’s right – a more than two-fold increase in “ridership” – however that’s defined – in just 3 years. Rock on, Boston!
- With this increase in people on bikes comes an increase in the “bike-onomy.” Ironically, the sales tax from this increase in bike-related purchases helps to fund… the MBTA.
- I admittedly was one of the many who got their bib shorts in a bunch upon reading about the proposed new law that would increase maximum traffic fines for cyclists from $20 – $150. Luckily, Nicole averted a lycra-clad mutiny and set the record straight on this one, explaining that police could fine up to $150 for chronic scofflaws, but the new law wouldn’t mandate such a hefty slap for first-time offenders.
- The bike share program has all the money needed to start – some $4.5m – and they’re hoping to launch this year. (Sound familiar?) The only catch is that they don’t have a vendor yet. In my opinion, the bike share program is a huge risk for the city. I mean, what could be risky about adding 600 new bikes to the city overnight? Look for a post on this topic in the coming weeks.
- The “Bike Lanes” page of the program booklet was clearly meant to show a string of people relishing the protection afforded by the painted fortress that is the BU bridge bike lane. Surely, though, they could have taken a better picture? The first person in the line of bike lane users is exercising his/her right not to be captured photographically. Is riding a bike that shameful? Maybe it’s the helmet visor. Those are pretty shameful, although the third guy didn’t get that memo, did he? Behind the Cyclist of Shame is…. a pedestrian. REALLY? I think my eyes were deceiving me at first. Yet, in stark contrast to the parade leader, this pedestrian (at least 10 feet from the sidewalk) wears no look of shame. After thinking long and hard about this person, thereby missing at least half of Nicole’s presentation, I determined that this person MUST have been photoshopped in. Why? To fill a void in the line of happy, albeit shameful, bike lane users – that’s why. I bet he won’t get a $150 fine.