Boston Cyclists Union
The Boston Cyclists Union helps Bostonians lead healthier lives by promoting the use of the bicycle as transportation.
In collaboration with Mayor Thomas Menino’s Boston Bikes program and several other partner organizations, the Union is focused on making Boston a world-class cycling city for residents and visitors of all ages by improving the safety and convenience of the built environment and encouraging cycling directly through education, repair, and other means.
Although a relatively young grassroots organization, the Cyclists Union has already been highly successful organizing communities to support better biking infrastructure and promoting bicycling in neighborhoods that do not have full-service bicycle shops with the Bike to Market program.
Bike to Market, which was launched in the summer of 2010, builds strong connections to cyclists and potential cyclists of all ages in low-income communities where physical activity and good nutrition are relatively lacking. Staff and volunteers run bike safety checks, relay safety information, and perform simple bicycle repairs at no cost to residents. Subsidized, low-cost helmets, lights and locks are sold or given away in an effort to increase rider safety and prevent bike theft, Volunteers and staff also take information directly from community members on how they would like to improve their neighborhoods for biking. To date Bike to Market has repaired over 1,600 bicycles, distributed over 250 affordable helmets and 40 subsidized locks. The goals for the summer of 2012 are 1,200 bicycles repaired at 58 events, 400 more affordable helmets and 200 affordable lights distributed, and 80 subsidized U-locks put in the hands of youth.
In the coming months the Union will launch the Bike to Work program in an effort to encourage everyday commuting by bike. Every Friday from May to September Union staff and volunteers will reward cyclists commuting to work with free snacks and drinks at one high traffic location in the city. Working with local employers, the program will directly encourage people to bike to work by building a community among those who commute by bike.
Connect the City, a new campaign for the Union this year, is designed to build upon the foundations set by the Union’s Bike to Market program and create an even stronger citywide collaboration that will educate thousands of residents on the benefits of a new system of safe, low-stress physically-separate bikeways across the city. The skeleton of the system has been inserted in the city’s Boston Bike Network Master plan, which is scheduled for released in draft form July 2012. Connect the City will also connect affordable housing residents to safe biking by helping to find opportunities for indoor or high-security bike parking in their buildings.
Union programs are designed to achieve the following long-term objectives:
- A wide public understanding of the health benefits of physical activity and the ways in which the built environment can encourage or discourage commuting by bicycle.
- A strong and self-reinforcing bike culture in every neighborhood of the city where good riding habits and other skills can be easily learned.
- Strong cycling education in our public and private schools and after-school programs.
- A robust system of tracking, recording and learning from data on bicycle crashes, their causes, and the injuries sustained from them.
- A citywide low-stress bicycle network, with increased city, state and federal funding for bicycle programming and infrastructure.
Union programs have a direct impact on safety and physical activity and are extremely effective organizing tool for supporting safer bike infrastructure and the built environment.