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Winter Bike Harvest:
Boston Bikes Staff
For most cyclists, winter is a time to get in some cross-training. When it’s well below freezing and the wind-chill makes it feel close to zero, anyone with an ounce of common sense knows not to ride outdoors.
And then there’s the 1-percenters, the cyclists who think that snow and sleet and ice and cold make life interesting. For those weirdos on two wheels (I include myself in this category), winter is a perfect time to channel our inner-Shakleton and keep on trucking no matter what Mother Nature throws our way.
Friends ask us how we can pedal through the cold and the snow. When the mercury dips below freezing, layers and Windbloc will keep you warm. Many a winter morning I’ve had to unzip my jacket to keep from overheating. As to dealing with the snow and the ice, I am grateful for studded tires: they are truly a gift from the Gods of cycling. The 294 tiny studs embedded in my tire keep me glued to the ground. Sure, they look kind of strange (like some sort of Medieval weapon), but they keep me upright.
Harvard is helping curb car use, by rolling out a new initiative that will not only offer University employees tax-free reimbursements for bike-related expenses, but will also entitle the cycling-inclined to Emergency Ride Home (ERH) services.
Reimbursements are now in effect as part of the Bicycle Commuter Benefits Act, according to the Harvard Gazette. To receive a reimbursement, all faculty and staff members need to do is be able to provide proof of bicycle registration through the Harvard University Police Department. The only employees not eligible are those who have been granted a subsidized monthly MBTA pass or parking permit from the University already.
If you’re like me, you have no idea who is responsible for clearing the public pedestrian paths that run from the Museum of Science in Cambridge to the Galen Street Bridge in Watertown, assuming instead that the snow there just clears itself, or, Biblically, never falls at all, as if in homage to those dedicated enough to pound pavement during the bitter winter months.
Like me, of course, you’d also be wrong. There’s a phantom force behind the snow removal of the Charles River Paths: While the muscle is provided by the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation, Boston.com reports, the funds are shoveled over by Brighton-based shoe giant New Balance.
2013 marks the fourth consecutive year New Balance has paid for the snow removal, which runs the state $10,000 on average annually. The shoe company gave Massachusetts $10,000 in the first year of the collaboration, and has reportedly forked over $20,000 the past two winters.
Depending on who you ask, Boston is either a progressive roadmap for bike enthusiasts and amateurs alike, or it’s a city that places too-high a premium on two-wheeled commuting only for the well-to-do, urban core. Either way, with the proliferation of Hubway and addition of miles of bike-friendly trails, Boston has earned its ranking as the third-best major biking city in the U.S. But how does Boston rank among all U.S. cities in terms of bikeability? A new website says good, but not great.
Bike Score, offshoot to the popular website Walk Score, seeks to educate riders on how bikeable their city, neighborhood or block is based on a specific set of criteria and an easily digestible scoring system on a scale of 1-t0-100. A score of 90-100 is a “Biker’s Paradise,” meaning daily errands can be easily done on your bike; 70-89 signifies “Very Bikeable”–a bike can be used for most trips; 50-69 is “Bikeable,” or middle of the road in terms of bike infrastructure; finally, a score of 0-49 earns your city the label of “Somewhat Bikeable,” a nebulous catch-all for cities with minimal bike infrastructure in place. Boston scored a 68. So our city is about as bikeable as a city can get without being very bikeable.
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