Last week our cycling community, and the city, was rocked by the tragic death of Boston University student Christopher Weigl. By coincidence, a hearing on bicycle safety brought the community together at City Hall later that day. Both events have many left asking what’s being done to make our city safe for cyclists, and rightfully so. Personally, I have been inspired by the outpouring of concern, support, validation, and sense of togetherness in our efforts to make Boston a world-class caliber city for bicycling.
Over the past five years, our Boston Bikes program has grown tremendously. Bicycle infrastructure is popping up in every neighborhood. A few years ago, when I announced “the car is no longer king” in Boston, it was before we had 675,000 trips on Hubway and before 9,000 young people went through bicycle education classes in schools around the city. That vision has guided the rapid growth in cycling throughout Boston.
It is the close-knit sense of community that impresses me most about bikers in Boston, and it is that community that came together last week. It is the collective force of that community and the unfortunate accidents of this summer and fall that are cemented in our minds today. Through our Boston Bikes program, we speak often about the six “E’s” of bicycle planning. And, it’s the six “E’s” that become the constant refrain when discussing solutions that can bring an end to these tragedies.
While there is certainly more work to be done, sometimes it is helpful to share some of the pieces already in action:
Education. Distribution of bicycle safety information has been underway for the past few years, and we’re upping our efforts by including the information in all parking violation mailings. On-bike education workshops piloted this fall, targeting women and communities in Roxbury. Our Youth Cycling Program instructs more than 4,000 young cyclists each year, and this number will again increase in 2013 thanks to support from TD Bank. It is critical we build the next generation of safe riders in Boston.
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