The Changing Reactions To Daily Commuting

Written by Boston Biker on Dec 27

I have been riding my bike to work for a long time now, and I have noticed that the reaction I have been getting has changed over the years. I have noticed that the reaction I get from my coworkers has changed as the infrastructure of Boston has changed.   It sorta went like this.


Several Years Ago:

“We are not sure we want you riding your bike to work, there might be liability issues.”

A Little After That:

“We don’t care if you ride your bike to work, but we will not have anyplace to park your bicycle, and please use the back door if you are going to have ‘cyclist clothing’ on when you come in.”

Slightly Later:

“We put a rack out back in the spooky dark alley, you can park your bike there.”

Later Still:

“You ride your bike to work?! That’s insane, I could never do that, 2 miles is way too far.”


“You ride your bike to work?! That’s insane, I could never do that, 4 miles is way too far.”


“You ride your bike to work?! That’s insane, I could never do that, 6 miles is way too far.”


“You ride your bike to work? Me too! But only on nice spring or fall days.

And Then:

“You rode your bike today?! But its raining?!”

But Then:

“I think I am going to ride all year this year, last year I rode until Thanksgiving and it wasn’t so bad”

What The?:

“Here is your health insurance benefits, you see you get a reduction in premiums for regular physical activity, including cycling to work.”

Holy What Now?!:

“This is our bike room, you can store your stuff here, the showers are on the 3rd floor.”

Well Flip My Pancakes:

“Oh you ride your bike to work, so does Sam, Grace, and Jessica, and our executive director Bob you should talk to them you might get along.”

Getting Cocky:

“Bet I can do more miles this year for the bike to work week competition than you can!”

Kicking It Old School:

“Did you see how many Hubway people there were this morning, damn traffic!”

Still The Holdout:

“You rode your bike today, but the snow!”

Boring Acceptance:

“Hi! Now get to work.”

I have either been super lucky with the places I have worked in this town over the last decade, or things are actually getting better. I still get asked “did you ride today” on every day that isn’t perfect, but the attitudes of employers have changed dramatically. Cyclists used to be outcasts, and now they are encouraged because it lowers health care bills and improves productivity. Businesses either petition the city for racks, or buy their own.

New cyclists are springing up in cubicles all over the city and businesses are helping to encourage them…at least the ones who want to keep talented employees are. Because times they are a changing, and if you want to compete in Boston’s business climate, you have to be bicycle friendly.

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Posted in bostonbiker | 9 Comments »

9 Responses to “The Changing Reactions To Daily Commuting”

  1. By JD on Dec 27, 2012 | Reply

    Thanks for this entry, it was pretty fantastic, and totally true!

  2. By JJJ on Dec 28, 2012 | Reply

    I know this happened to my friend in DC who has been biking to work since 2009. At first it was “OMG that can’t be safe, are you sure you want to do that!?!?”….and then capital bikeshare launched. Now many of her coworkers bike too.

  3. By Dotbiker on Dec 28, 2012 | Reply

    There’s still a lonnnnggggg way to go. Too many drivers still believe we shouldn’t even be on the road. I also still get the “I would but it isn’t safe.” -type lines. Despite riding a lot more than I used to I do get a lot less “You’re crazy”‘s though…

  4. By cycler on Dec 28, 2012 | Reply

    My boss said to me the other day after I’d gone home sick the day before “I could tell you really must have been feeling awful, because you didn’t ride your bike home.”

  5. By Christine on Dec 28, 2012 | Reply

    Unique to us ladies but I always get “Wow, you rode in that skirt and heels? Amazing!” FYI I shower and change at the gym down the street and ride the two blocks to my office in work clothes. LOL

  6. By jon on Dec 28, 2012 | Reply

    I’ve been bike commuting since 2006 or so and I do get fewer comments from my co-workers these days. I wasn’t sure if it was a changing attitude toward bicyclists or if my co-workers just got used to seeing me do it every day.

    One thing that has changed is that our building was recently sold and the new owner renovated the entry lobby. Now they are forcing bicyclists to enter from the back door. Its a pretty crappy feeling to be forced to use a back of house entry especially because before we could come in the front door like civilized employees.

  7. By mm on Dec 29, 2012 | Reply

    yeah ppl were pretty freaked at first and esp when I did it in the winter. now they’re used to it, and i don’t bother in the winter anymore because it takes much, much longer.

  8. By Tugboat 23 on Jan 2, 2013 | Reply

    I once worked at a nonprofit where on nice days there were 5 bikes stacked up in the back hallway (there were only 8 of us, all women). That was so amazing.
    Great post – happy new year!

  9. By Angelo Dolce on Jan 4, 2013 | Reply

    I rode to work in Boston from 1985-1990, generally 4-5 miles from various location in Somerville and Cambridge.

    The reaction was generally “Hi, Now get to work”, since the 2nd VP with the corner office rode in daily from Brookline and nobody wanted to be on record saying bicycling was crazy. I think it was viewed as eccentric but harmless.

    (They were puzzled when he bought a new bike and it was just like the bike he had been riding for 25+ years, another Raleigh with hub gears, etc, but I imagine in better condition than one after 25 years of year round Boston weather.)

    Based on the ready availability of poles & parking meters, I don’t think anyone else in the building bicycled on a regular basis.

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