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More Bikes Than Cars!

Written by Boston Biker on Aug 03

For the last 7 or so work days I have noticed that on my morning commute, there are significantly more cyclists than their are motorists.  The insane part of it is, the cars still take up vastly more room.

You will pull up to a red light and see 10 cyclists crammed into the tiniest little area, and next to them 3 people in cars taking up the entire road.  The light changes green and all the cyclists cram into a narrow bike lane (happily I might add), while the 3 or 4 cars struggle to find room on roads clogged with on street parking and construction.

There are two lessons I have learned form this.

1.  WE ARE WINNING!  Cycling is clearing a preferable form of transportation, this is due to many peoples hard work promoting cycling infrastructure and education.

2. Driving a car is about the dumbest way to get to work.  If you don’t have a really good reason, leave the 4 wheel vehicle at work, dust off that bicycle, and join the crowd!

Have you seen an uptick in the number of cyclists on your commute?  Have you noticed that you are outnumbering cars?  Let me know in the comments.

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Back From The Corn

Written by Boston Biker on Jul 27

I am back from Iowa, 520-ish miles over 6 days, lots of fun. Expect a full review post later.

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Heading To Iowa Again This Year

Written by Boston Biker on Jul 09

Anyone else doing RAGBRAI this year? Want to see if we can make a little Boston meet-up in the corn?

What’s RAGBRAI you say? See here (2014, 2013, 2012, 2011).

Let me know in the comments.

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The Time Has Come To End Traffic Fatalities

Written by Boston Biker on May 25

It was never acceptable that people got hurt and killed in motor vehicles, but we now have the technology to drastically reduce traffic fatalities.

Operating a motor vehicle is not a right, its a privileged, and we need to take the safety of the operation of motor vehicles more seriously. Because lets be clear, the vast vast majority of traffic fatalities are caused by big heavy fast moving pieces of metal operated by people who are very bad at operating big heavy fast moving pieces of metal.

This is not to say that everyone is a bad driver, but that no one is a good driver. Human beings didn’t evolve to drive around in cars, and as such we lack many of the skills that one would need to operate them effectively. Combined with our penchant for drinking, falling asleep, texting, and other distractions behind the wheel and you end up with a murderous rampage killings tens of thousands of people every year.

The “freedom” provided by owning and operating motor vehicles in the way we do currently is not worth the cost in human lives. There are a host of well tested and proven methods shown to reduce or eliminate traffic fatalities, all we need to do is enact them in our city. Speed reduction, automated cars, better enforcement, better infrastructure, driver education, and many more. Start with the easy ones, and work your way up to the hard ones. It’s time we stop allowing those we love to die needlessly.

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The End Of The Car Age

Written by Boston Biker on Apr 28

Anyone paying attention knows that the mode-share (as those in the transportation biz call it) has been shifting.  Less people are using cars, and more people are using other things to get around.

In my mind roads are a public utility, who’s purpose is to move people and stuff around.  There are a lot of ways these people and stuff can get around.  We could use cars, trucks, buses, trains, trolleys, walking, carts, bicycles, horse and buggy, dog sled, etc.  These methods all have pro’s and con’s.  An efficient city would use the methods best suited to its people, and economic activity.

For a long time people thought the best way to use roads, was to cram them full of cars and trucks, and as such they kept running into the same problem. They would build a road, then a bunch of cars and trucks would drive on it, the road would get clogged, so they would build bigger roads and then these bigger roads would get clogged, so they built bigger roads, etc etc.    These larger roads lead to people moving out of the city centers and out to the burbs, so you had decreasing tax bases in cities, and lots and lots of commuter traffic.

This downward cycle got pretty bad.  We ended up with giant multi-lane highways through the centers of cities.  Inner cities devoid of people, traffic, air pollution, obesity, and a lot of other problems we didn’t think would happen.  All because we decided the best use of the public utility that is our roads, was to fill them with cars and trucks.

But that is changing, rapidly.  In our modern, technologically advanced cities, filling our streets with cars makes very little sense.

Gilles Vesco calls it the “new mobility”. It’s a vision of cities in which residents no longer rely on their cars but on public transport, shared cars and bikes and, above all, on real-time data on their smartphones. He anticipates a revolution which will transform not just transport but the cities themselves. “The goal is to rebalance the public space and create a city for people,” he says. “There will be less pollution, less noise, less stress; it will be a more walkable city.” (via)

We have seen this trend right here in Boston.  The entire Big Dig (for all its failings) was basically removing an eyesore highway that bisected downtown Boston.  Highway overpasses are being removed in Somerville, in JP, and elsewhere.  The city is being re-designed to accommodate human beings, not cars and trucks.  With beneficial effects for its citizens.

This trend will only increase with a multitude of factors contributing to the decline of car use.  Uber, Zip Car, Hubway, self driving cars, better and more public transportation, cycling and walking infrastructure are all chipping away at car ownership and use.  The high cost of car infrastructure (like car parking), the poor health and environmental effects of cars, rising income inequality, combined with new expectations of ownership (the so called sharing economy) have all converged to really put the hurt on car mode-share.

The upshot is that you should expect a future filled with cycling, walking, and public transportation, not single use car trips. We have reached “peak car.”  This will usher in a new era, one significantly better for everyone.

Have you given up your car?  Do you use ride share services instead of owning a personal car? Have you switched to walking, cycling, or public transportation?  If you have a car does it get much use?  Has your personal mode-share changed?  Let us know in the comments.


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Written by Boston Biker on Mar 10



Oh man what a difference a couple degrees makes. Its like a someone pushed a button and all of a sudden all the cyclists are back on the road!  Welcome back everyone, we missed you, and are super happy you are back. Just an FYI, while you were gone the roads were destroyed by several snow-blastings. There are now pot holes, piles of sand/salt/rocks, still a lot of ice, and in general they are slightly more narrow.

All that being said, its been GLORIOUS riding these last couple days.  I actually got to wear actual bike shoes, instead of winter boots, and I feel like a million bucks.  HURRAH SPRING!

Have you started riding again? Do you remember what green plants look like?  Have you figured out what that glowing thing in the sky is?

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Cycling Adds Redundancy To A Transportation Network

Written by Boston Biker on Feb 18

I sometimes have odd thoughts on my ride into work.  Today’s were mostly around how nice the sun was, and how great it was to be riding, but as I locked up my bike (after an effortless commute), I realized something.  Bicycles add a lot of redundancy to a transportation network.

These thoughts were peculating in my mind because nearly every person at my job has complained about their commutes lately.  Be it by bus, by T, by car, or walking (the only people not complaining are the ones riding bikes…hmmm.)  Seems that if you dump enough snow on a city that has a lack of redundant transportation options and everything comes crashing down.

If the T is delayed, and the bus can’t run, and your car is stuck in a snow bank, you basically have the option of walking, or taking your bike.  While walking is a fine and useful form of transport, if you want to get some place really fast you will take the bike. Plus no one shovels the sidewalks.

The amount of infrastructure it takes to keep bikes “running” is relatively small, you don’t need to even plow the entire street, just a slim strip down the middle.  In a perfect world without on-street parking, you could have the roads clear enough for bikes in a relatively short period of time.  (as one commentator said “I still don’t understand why my tax dollars go to subsidize a nice paved parking spot in front of every car driver’s house. If people don’t have enough space on their own property to store all of their possessions, maybe they should just get rid of some of them?”)

Currently Boston has very low bicycle ridership, below 10% on even the best days.  But if we could get 15-30% of our population riding regularly (and making sure we put forth the minimum amount of effort needed to keep the infrastructure clear for them in the winter), we could dramatically reduce the burden on our public transportation infrastructure.  This would free up space for more people to take the bus, or the train, or even for folks that absolutely needed to drive (especially folks like fire/ambulance service).  These numbers are not as crazy as they might seem, as many places around the world have experienced this level of ridership (even in snowy places).

Increased redundancy means we are better able to handle extreme weather events (like say 6 feet of snow in a month), would have decreased levels of air pollution, less use of fossil fuels, and a whole host of other economic and health benefits.

The amount of money it would take to build and maintain a vibrant bicycle infrastructure would be peanuts compared to what we currently spend to just pay the interest on the dept the MBTA has.  This problem is well within our grasp, using technology that has already been demonstrated successful by other cities.

Or we can just keep doing the same thing, and having the same problems.  The choice is ours.


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Relevant Repost: Types Of Snow

Written by Boston Biker on Feb 04

From way back in Feb of Aught 14:


This winter I have felt like a native of the northern reaches, developing dozens of words for snow. Here are a few:

Play-dough: When the snow has been thoroughly mixed with road salt, but its just too damn cold to melt, you get play-dough snow.  Has the feel of clay, and squirts out from between your front fork like a play-dough fun factory.

Rump Braille: When the snow hardens to the ground in little archipelagos of solid ice.  These seem to form when the snow has been packed down by cars, and then it warms up real fast and rivulets of water run through the snow only to freeze again real fast,  leaving little islands of solid ice.  So named because of the feeling on your ass as you roll over them.   If only I could read their secret language.

Solid Water: A type of snow that for all intents looks totally solid, until you hit it with your front wheel and it explodes into water.  MAGIC!  I would imagine that there are just enough ice crystals in the slush to keep it solid until impact.  This snow can be cause brown shorts, as you think you are about to hit a giant ice ball and crash only to have it splatter harmlessly all over the road.

The Good Stuff: Crunchy for traction, but light and fluffy enough not to stick to your bike.  This is the snow we all dream about riding on.  Makes a satisfying “Crrrrssshhhh” as you ride on it.

Road Boogers: Much like ancient boulders left behind when the glaciers retreated, these mounds of snow are left after the plow comes through.  Ranging in size from “golf ball” to “holy shit I’m going to die!”  These clumps are usually not attached to the road, and therefor wander about as cars and pedestrians paw at them.  Avoid the big ones and you should be ok.

Salt Lick: Not snow at all, but looks like snow.  Its when the plow trucks lay down so much salt that it appears in heaps like snow on the ground.  Usually solid, but sometimes like a big pile of sand.  Avoid.

Trails of our Ancestors: When you ride on snow that many other cyclists have already ridden over.  You can see the tracks of all the wheels that have come before you, giving you a sense of security knowing its a good route, as well as letting you know that you are not the only one braving the storm.  Gives you sense of camaraderie even if no one else is around.

These are but a few of the many names that could be applied to biking snow.  What are some you have thought of?

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The Word On The Street

  • RSS Here is what people are saying

    • The Responsibilities of Businesses with Drivers August 30, 2015
      TweetSharing a couple of encounters from the past week, one with a Hubway van and another with a Uber driver. Hubway: Please educate your drivers. It’s their job to regularly pull over to park and balance the stations, they really really need … Continue reading →
    • Mass. Ave. Intersection Repaved, No Lane Markings August 30, 2015
      TweetThe Mass. Ave. intersection at the base of the Mass. Ave. Bridge has been repaved, and all the street markings are gone. This, as you may recall, is the scene of the recent hit and run that killed Anita Kurmann. … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Put Your Street On A Road Diet August 28, 2015
      TweetFrom Jeff Speck and his campaign to slim down our roads.   more info here.
      Boston Biker
    • Put Your Street On A Road Diet August 28, 2015
      TweetFrom Jeff Speck and his campaign to slim down our roads.  
      Boston Biker
    • Cars…Not So Good August 26, 2015
      Tweet NPR reported today that Boston ranks 6th!  Sixth!   Sadly it isn’t “Awesome Cities”, it was Cities with the highest level of time wasted in traffic.  We didn’t get here by accident.  It was years of decisions, choices we … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • test August 26, 2015
      Boston Biker
    • Help Hubway Decide Where To Expand Next August 24, 2015
      TweetFrom The City: Since Hubway’s last expansion in Boston, we’ve received over 33,000 suggestions for station locations. Based on that input and consultation with community-based organizations, we have developed a range of station options for our 2015 expansion. We have … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Where should Hubway go next? August 24, 2015
      TweetBoston Bikes wants input on expansion of Hubway bike dock stations in Boston.  Fill out the ssurvey to help place new stations in Brighton, Charlestown, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury/Franklin Park, and South Boston.  Looks like the Hubway bike network will be even … Continue reading →
    • Where should Hubway go next? August 24, 2015
      TweetBoston Bikes wants input on expansion of Hubway bike dock stations in Boston.  Fill out the survey to help place new stations in Brighton, Charlestown, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury/Franklin Park, and South Boston.  Looks like the Hubway bike network will be even … Continue reading →
    • Nearly Doored; Passenger Good Enough to Apologize August 20, 2015
      TweetUsually I scan driver’s seat or the rear driver side seat to check for doors that might opening ahead of me. In this instance, a passenger in the rear reached over the seats to open the rear, driver-side door. I … Continue reading →