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The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

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Boston’s National Bike to Work Day gets people pedaling

Jessica Xing
Bikers walk and bike toward the check-in table at the Bike to Work Day Festival. Over 50 groups of about 40 bikers each biked from different municipalities in and around Boston to the festival.

Whether it’s because of the free bananas, fresh scenery or camaraderie between old friends, Boston’s National Bike to Work Day Festival brought people of all ages together at City Hall Plaza May 17. 

Enthusiasm was in the air as an estimated 900 cyclists in small groups embarked from different locations ranging from South Station to Concord, said Anna Jacobs, who works at Boston Bikes, an organization within the Boston Transportation Department that designs streets for cycling.

 In addition to organizing this annual event, the city of Boston provides dozens of biking events and programs with the goal of helping people feel more self-assured on the street. Examples include bike-repair pop-ups, learn-to-bike workshops and the E-Bikes incentive program catered toward bikers of all skill levels, Jacobs said.

Van Tran, a biker at the festival and a notary signing agent at Notary Approved LCC-Mobile Services, said she felt an increase in confidence regarding her biking skills while riding with the group from Dorchester. 

“I actually just learned to ride a bike last year, so my friend told me about this event and I said ‘Why not’ just because I feel safer in a group,” Tran said. 

Upon arriving at City Hall Plaza, a welcoming committee of Boston Bikes staff rang bells and cheered bikers on. Dozens formed a line near the entrance in anticipation for the incoming biking groups of up to 40 people each. 

“It’s a good way to get to work, and it’s nice to ride with people all the time,” said Matthew Petersen, a biker at the festival and a transit planner at the Boston Transportation Department.

Louisa Gag, an event organizer and a bike share and transportation planner for the City of Boston Streets Cabinet, said she prefers biking over other modes of transportation due to the increased autonomy, which enables her to exert more control over her daily life. Gag also enjoys the element of predictability that comes with this form of transportation, rather than waiting 45 minutes to an hour for the train. This saves her copious amounts of time for important tasks that need to get done at work, she said.

“If I take an e-bike, it halves my commute time, so that’s definitely hours saved each week,” Gag said.

Van Tran poses for a photo with her bike. Tran felt an increase in confidence after riding with a group from Dorchester to the festival.
(Jessica Xing)

The city has made rapid progress on biking infrastructure over the past few years by adding bike lanes, traffic cones and enhanced transportation connections in the Boston Common Garage. 

“I have lived here for 11 years now, and have seen an amazing increase in biking and biking infrastructure,” Jacobs said. 

Gag said her favorite place to bike is through the Southwest Corridor Park which has a multitude of bicycle pathways that lay separate from cars. She said this serves as an improvement compared to the door zone bike lanes she encounters, which are lanes near parked cars that pose danger to bikers due to the risk of being hit by opening car doors. 

“When I bike down from Jamaica Plain and I’m on the Southwest Corridor, I’m like ‘Oh my God, this is so nice. It’s beautiful, it’s calm,’” Gag said. 

She also said that transportation is the leading sector in the production of  greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. In response, the city of Boston’s ambitious transportation plan, Go Boston 2030 ReVisioned, aims to shift people out of single occupancy vehicles in favor of a greater diversification of transit options. One of the goals is to increase the percentage of biking individuals by fourfold. 

“We’re not there yet, but events like these can help support and bring culture change,” Gag said. 

Tina Chan, reference services program manager and humanitarian librarian at MIT who biked to the festival, felt a sense of accomplishment as biking enables her to play an active role in reducing her carbon footprint. 

“It makes me feel energized and relieved and good about myself that I didn’t waste any carbon emissions on my commute,” Chan said. 

She also said that biking to work can be daunting for some, and it is often easier to engage in smaller-scale excursions and work your way up from there. Chan said that no matter the person’s skill level, Boston’s Bike to Work Day was an opportunity to enjoy a casual bike ride along scenic routes, meet new people and secure free breakfast.

“Just come. If not this year, next year.” Jacobs said. “It’s a rain or shine event and just full of enthusiasm.” 

About the Contributor
Jessica Xing
Jessica Xing, Photo Editor
Jessica Xing is a third-year graphic design major with a minor in journalism. She has previously served as deputy photo editor and design editor and is excited to continue working with photographers for The News this semester.
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