Bike czar Nicole Freedman gave her sixth annual report on the state of cycling in Boston in the Great Room at Faneuil Hall this Monday evening. Hundreds of bicyclists and bicycling advocates listened to her describe what Boston has accomplished and what the city proposes to accomplish in the coming years.
Mayor Marty Walsh was billed as attending, but he cancelled for reasons that were not disclosed. City Councillor Ayanna Pressley arrived late. She was the only elected official present.
Mayor Walsh did send a representative, chief of policy Joyce Linehan. Linehan noted that bicyclists made themselves known during the mayoral campaign and the candidates noticed. Advocacy organizations such as Livable Streets Alliance and the Boston Cyclists Union have made a difference in this town.
Over 120 people packed the Jackson Mann Community Center in Allston Tuesday night for a public meeting on the reconstruction of the Cambridge Street overpass. This was the second public meeting on the project — the first had taken place on June 17 — although both meetings were scheduled after the project was at 100% design. I attended this meeting because I occasionally bike over the overpass to get from Jamaica Plain to Harvard Square, risking my life in the process.
The organizers appeared to have been caught off-guard by the attendance. Folding chairs were added to accomodate more people. A lack of microphones and speakers meant that each person had to speak loudly to be heard by all.
Boston’s Naked Bike Ride passed by me near the Public Garden last night. About 75 people in various states of undress, some completely nude, rode their bicycles as part of a protest:
“By riding in the WNBR we face automobile traffic with our naked bodies as the best way of defending our dignity and exposing the unique dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians as well as the negative consequences we all face due to dependence on oil, and other forms of non-renewable energy.” – ride facebook page
Steve Miller of Livable Streets and Nicole Freedman, Boston’s bike czar, spoke yesterday evening on the state of bicycling infrastructure in the city of Boston at a well-attended meeting at the public library in Copley Square. Boston City Councillors and mayoral candidates Felix Arroyo and Mike Ross supported this fifth annual event with their presence. City Councillor Ayanna Pressley may also have been present.
The MBTA has proposed two plans, both containing drastic fare increases and service cuts, to help balance its budget. On February 1, a hearing was held at the Hennigan Community Center in Jamaica Plain for residents to comment on the plans. Of the sixty-plus people who spoke, not a single person chose one plan over the other. Except for a Northeastern University journalist who longed for an interview with T officials and thus maintained neutrality, all declared both plans unacceptable.
The MBTA (T) has found itself in this situation for two reasons. In 2000, the State Legislature forced the T to fund itself and granted it 20% of sales tax receipts. Those receipts have not met projections. The Legislature also saddled the T with $3.6 billion in debt, which has since ballooned to $5.2 billion, payments on which consume 30% of its annual operating budget.
MBTA officials know that simply meeting this year’s budget will not do much for the long term. Even if all proposed cuts are made and all fares increased, budget shortfalls will continue. Repeated service cuts and fare increases will lead to system failure.
Rather than appealing directly and publicly to state officials to forgive the debt or provide more funding, T officials have instead chosen to scare riders into doing their job for them.