Meet Boston’s newest cycling enthusiast (you’ve heard of him)

October 3, 2009
By

He’s an avid bicycler who wakes up at 5 a.m. and rides his bike around his Hyde Park neighborhood for 45 minutes. I’m sure you’ve heard the stories but incase you missed it our mayor’s daily exercise regiment includes biking–and he wants us to join him.

Since taking up the sport, Mayor Thomas Menino has been making neighborhoods like East Boston more bike friendly. Last October, white road signs shaped like bikes were painted along Bennington Street as a way to notify East Boston drivers that they were now sharing one of two lanes with potential bicyclers in the neighborhood.

The designation of these lanes in East Boston was part of Menino’s promise to make East Boston, and the rest of Boston, a more bike friendly place.

Now Menino is planning to expand the program to include Chelsea Street.

“We’ve installed five miles of bike lanes in the South End, Brighton, Allston and Dorchester, with more lanes to come soon in Roslindale and Franklin Park,” said Menino at the kickoff of Boston’s Bicycling Celebration. “The Back Bay will have bike lanes from Kenmore Square to the Public Garden on Commonwealth Avenue, and Chelsea Street in East Boston will also become biker-friendly in the near future.”

Last year, Menino ensured that bicyclers continue to have safe streets on which to ride in East Boston by prohibiting cars from double parking along Bennington Street’s shared bike lane.

Menino signed an ordinance that prohibited vehicle parking in marked bike lanes or marked shared lanes.

As thousands of people travel into and around Boston each day on trains, buses and boats, and others choose to walk, bikes are increasingly becoming yet another popular mode of transportation, one that Menino strongly endorses.

“I strongly support bicyclists because they help reduce the number of cars in downtown Boston, alleviating traffic congestion and improving air quality,” said Menino. “However, if we encourage bicycling in Boston then it is important that we provide safe passage and for bicyclists: safe passage is a clear passage. Vehicles parked in bike lanes and other marked shared lanes force cyclists to merge into traffic, presenting serious public safety hazards and I am committed to ensuring the safety of those who choose to travel around Boston by bike.”

The City of Boston has installed several miles of on-road bike lanes on public streets and officials expect to install several more miles over the next year.

In East Boston, the transportation department and Freedman worked together on installing “Share the Road” biking accommodations along with additional bike racks and bicycling education in the neighborhood.

“While it’s not a full blown bike lane on Bennington Street, it serves to promote sharing road space between drivers and cyclists,” said Freedman. “On roadways that can’t necessarily accommodate full bike lanes, the share the road accommodations are a good back up plan.”

East Boston streets like Commonwealth Avenue in Allston and American Legion Highway in Roslindale are now as bike friendly routes in the city.

“As you ride in Boston – through our diverse neighborhoods, in our great parks and past our historic buildings – you feel closer to our city,” said Menino. “It’s a connection that extends to people, because biking brings people together. Riding a bike is a fun way to deepen your relationship with this great city.”

Biking is not only a low-cost mode of transportation; it is great exercise, great for the environment, and can help generate revenue, said Menino.

As head of the newly formed Boston Bikes, Freedman, a former Olympian, led a mapping project, asking commuters, couriers and other bike enthusiasts about where they ride in the city, using that information to help the City plan bike routes. She worked with several City departments and local business owners to find appropriate locations for bike racks. She also created events to welcome commuters and will soon begin an education series in East Boston and beyond.

Riders can find more information by checking out www.cityofboston.gov/bikes

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