Full disclosure, I love Boston. I have loved the city ever since I stepped foot into Jamaica Plain in 2001, freshly home from the Peace Corps to attend Boston University in a masters program. I loved the size of the city: small enough to be able to be walkable but big enough to explore and feel urban. I loved the old-city streets, the small neighborhoods, the history, the many unique areas of the city. All of it seemed to fit me perfectly.
It took me about three months after moving to Boston to figure out that the most direct way to BU’s campus from Jamaica Plain was by bike. The T, Boston’s subway system, took me all the way into the city and then out again — a 45-minute commute. On bike it was 20. A beautiful commute around the Emerald Necklace, a name well-earned, put me straight onto campus. I passed by ponds and rivers and saw very few cars or stoplights the entire five miles.
Once I got to BU, however the honeymoon was over. I had to join the traffic congestion. I saw few cyclists on my ride to class. Commonwealth Avenue, which cuts through the heart of campus, was pretty much exclusively dedicated to moving cars and parking cars.
Last week I traveled back to Boston for the National League of Cities Conference and was amazed at the difference. I rode my bike from the newly developed Seaport District all the way to Landry’s Bicycles, my favorite shop and my former workplace. Nearly all the way from the Public Garden to BU’s campus I had a bike lane in which to ride. There was a green bike box near the famous Newbury Street, where I cozied up to multiple other cyclists. The lanes along Commonwealth Avenue also had a frequent safety reminder: “No Excuse, Wear a Helmet.”
I noticed the dozens of Hub Stations throughout the city and saw many people on the bike-share bikes. Cold weather didn’t stop a lot of the early morning commuters. Along the Charles River Path, the number of cyclists I saw far outnumbered the amount I would have seen on a warm weather day in 2001. It was amazing.
Congratulations, Boston. You have come a long way! I never thought I could love you more, but I do.
Photo credit: City of Boston
Alison DeweyDewey joined the League in 2008. For four years prior to that, Dewey worked for Massachusetts- based Landry’s Bicycles and served on the board of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition. Dewey has a MA in International Relations and Communications from Boston University and is a graduate of St. Olaf College. She spent three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal.
League Program Manager, BFB & BFU