Thursday, October 04, 2007

Biking in Boston

Originally posted by Eileen on EcoSpace.

Boston’s Mayor Thomas M. Menino is vowing to reverse Boston’s reputation as one of the worst cycling cities in the United States. Last year, Bicycling magazine put Boston on its list of worst cycling cities for "lousy roads, scarce and unconnected bike lanes, and bike-friendly gestures from city hall that go nowhere." Mayor Menino has just picked up biking himself and has hired a “bike czar”, former Olympic cyclist Nicole Freedman.

“We need to get more people to take the bike around. It’s good for the health, it’s good for the environment, and there’s less congestion on the streets,” Menino said. “It’s time for the issue to come to the forefront.” He now bikes every morning around his neighborhood.

The plan is to install 250 bike racks across Boston, and implement an online map system. First of course, more bike lanes need to be installed, but lane plans are still in brainwashing stages. Current bike commuters of Boston are being surveyed for their most frequently traveled roads. The city will soon hold a summit for local bikers and national experts.

Now only about one percent of Bostonians bike to work, according to a 2000 US census. And a recent poll revealed that more local residents would bike to work if their workplaces had showers. So the city will try to encourage offices to install shower facilities, convince gyms to let non-members use showers, or even install citywide coin-operated showers.

Another idea is to put bike terminals around the city so residents and tourists could rent a bike, ride it an return it to any other terminal in the city. The concept is similar to Zipcars, and is in place in Paris.

Boston has unbelievable potential," the newly appointed bike czar Nicole Freedman said. "We're a compact city, we're flat, we have a young population and lots of tourists. If we do this correctly, we have the potential to be one of the best bike cities in the country. In three years, I think we will see some very dramatic changes."

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