You know the frazzled, dizzying feeling of squeezing into class with 15 seconds to spare as Grace tosses you your shoes from behind the desk, and Mark helps you shuffle into the dark studio? We’ve all been there, and we know firsthand that getting to a Downtown Boston studio during rush hour isn’t easy. Our streets are jammed with out-of-towner traffic for the summer, Ubers are regularly surging at 2.5x, and the MTBA is… the MBTA.
Fortunately, Boston is a small, fairly flat city that lends itself perfectly to the bike commuter. We won’t argue that Boston’s biking infrastructure is perfect – there’s still a lot of work to be done. But we have found that it’s truly the fastest, cheapest way to get from Point A to Point B. Whether you plan to hop on for the Summer and Fall, or become an all-season commuter like Kris, here are our tips on the best way to get around the city.
Find your ride
You don’t need to commit to a $600+ ride. In fact, we don’t really recommend it. High quality bikes truly make a difference, but Boston is crawling with as many bike thieves as there are potholes. Especially if you’re just starting out, opt for a used bike off Craigslist or at a local shop, just make sure you get a proper tune-up before hitting the road.
Not ready to commit? Check out one of Hubway’s 160 stations. Our very own bike-share program runs Spring through late Fall in Boston (and all year in Campbridge) and membership rates are only $85 for the year.
Get the right gear
Safety isn’t for noobs. Wear a helmet and get yourself some lights. These are two super easy things that can help save your life. Plus, a lot of really cool people wear helmets – astronauts, firefighters, and the guys from Daft Punk.
Next thing to think about: locks. A cable lock is not good enough. Get a heavy-duty U-lock, and partner it with a cable lock for your front wheel. Whenever possible, bring your bike inside, or lock it up in a high traffic area.
Aside from the basic safety gear, think about the conditions you’ll be riding in. If you’re going to tough it out on rainy days, opt for some fenders. If you’ll be braving the cold weather, layers are key, as are really insulated gloves. Think about reflective clothing if you’re consistently riding in the dark, or saddlebags or a basket if you have a lot to carry.
Seek out alternate routes
Riding down Comm. Ave or Mass. Ave may seem like the most direct routes, but just because they have (faded, narrow) bike lanes, doesn’t mean they’re the best choice for cyclists. High-traffic routes for cars are often high-danger routes for riders. Opt for side streets with wide lanes, and try to avoid any circumstance where you are riding between rows of parked and moving cars, or when you have to cross high-use exits.
Give yourself an extra 5-10 minutes to seek out protected bike paths around the River and Fens, or look for shallotted side-streets when heading into Downtown.
Cars and pedestrians are not always aware of their cyclist counterparts. Stay aware of your surroundings, including parked and moving cars, buses, and pedestrians who may be watching for traffic and not bikes. As tempting as it might be to pop in your headphones on your ride to work or the studio, it’s really important to keep your eyes and ears on the road.
Follow the rules
There’s a stigma against city cyclists, and it’s not just in Boston. There are plenty of riders who will blow through red lights, cut off cars in traffic, or trip-up pedestrians who have the right-of-way. Don’t be one of those jerks. Following the rules is not only going to keep you safe, it’s also going to keep drivers on our good side.
A lot of us ride to and from the studio, and we’d love to give you recs on the best bikes, shops, and routes. Next time you’re in the studio, let us know you saw this post and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have!