For the past 4 days I was in Boston for work. Unfortunately, that means most of my time wasn’t spent exploring on foot or two wheels. The upside is that I did get to see a city I’d never visited, and now I know I want to go back!
I only rode the ‘T’ subway twice (the green line: the oldest subway in America), preferring a bike or my own feet as a faster and more eye-opening mode of transportation. I bought a 3-day Hubway pass to get around the city and to work. It’s a great deal at $12. Just like Divvy in Chicago, the system is easy to use, and after a day or two, I already knew where nearby stations were without having to look at a map. The only real issue I had riding a bike was the plethora of one-way streets in Boston that made it sometimes hard to find my way around. Sometimes, I just got off the bike and walked it. Other than that, riding around Boston was fairly care-free, mostly because I was traveling on busy, traffic-clogged streets where stalled drivers weren’t really a threat.
The bike lanes were OK; there is only one short protected bike lane according to this map and I didn’t use it. There was a recently-announced plan to add more lanes, but only to add 75 miles of bike lanes over the next 5 years. I didn’t ride a lot of the city, so I can’t report very well on the bike conditions. I did appreciate that many lanes were adjacent to the curb, and not parked cars (such as the lane on Commonwealth Ave, shown above), making it somewhat less dangerous. You could also note that in the lane above, there is an opportunity to route a bike path (raised and separated) in the park, if it were desired.
Walking in the area of Boston where I stayed was very pleasant. There is a ton of green space. Southwest Corridor Park has a great story behind it: It’s a linear park that officially opened in 1990 after decades of non-use by locals. In the 1960s, hundreds of residences in the South End, Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain neighborhoods were razed to make way for an expressway into downtown Boston.
After immense public pressure, the project was canceled by the governor in 1969, but the right-of-way still existed. Community members maintained gardens in the right-of-way, eventually culminating in the opening of the linear park, which stretches for 4.7 miles and connects to the Emerald Necklace of parks. Thankfully, the freeway never came to fruition, and many of the most walkable parts of Boston were free of freeways.
I also appreciated the small parks and the small streets of the North End; who wouldn’t? (The Italian pastry shops got me, too).
At times, walking was frustrating; the signals were nearly all push-to-walk. However, for the most part, drivers did stop for pedestrians crossing the street, and many signals had “all walk” phases, where all traffic was stopped and foot traffic proceeded in all directions.
In neighboring Cambridge, a short bike ride up Massachusetts Ave, I saw some nice bike infrastructure. Notably, the left-turn box above, which is clearly marked and separated by concrete and brick. It doesn’t take up a lot of space and is a clear indication of how to turn left safely on a bike.
In all, it was a short and pleasant trip, and a great city to see by bike and on (my now-sore) feet. What else have you seen in Boston when it comes to green space, walking, and riding a bike?