Boston cyclists hope more commuters give two wheels a spin

May is Bay State Bike Month, a time when cyclists across the commonwealth can share their passion for their favorite way of getting around. The national nonprofit League of American Bicyclists ranked Massachusetts the most bicycle friendly state in the nation last year.

Boston officials are hoping to encourage at least 8% of commuters to bike to work by 2030. They invited cyclists to City Hall Plaza last week for free bike checks and breakfast. Hundreds of cyclists attended the event.

Back Bay resident Angela Lou said she doesn’t “feel safe” on Boston roads, but she sees that as a good thing.

“I think [not feeling safe] makes me a better biker, I’m very vigilant and I always give myself extra time, so I’m not making any rash decisions,” Lou said.

After 15 years cycling through Boston, Lou said being on a bike gives her “the ultimate sense of freedom and joy.”

Boston has a bike network that includes 59 miles of off-street paths and 17.5 miles of separated bike lanes. Last year, Mayor Michelle Wu’s office announced plans to expand the bike network by 9.4 miles and connect key bike lanes.

The expansion was welcome news to South Boston resident Braden Reid, who said biking is her preferred way to get around.

“You don’t have to wait for unreliable transit, it’s fast and moderately less stressful than driving,” Reid said. “It’s also a sort of exercise, and that’s an added benefit.”

On a recent morning, dozens of people zoomed through the city's bike paths. They ranged from "younger folks, older folks, people in spandex, people dressed for work, the whole gambit of folks," said Stacey Thompson, executive director of the nonprofit LivableStreets.

Thompson and former Massachusetts Assistant Secretary of Transportation Chris Dempsey are pushing for more investment in bike infrastructure to make cyclists feel safer on Boston roads.

Last year, the city reported 242 bicycle crashes, including one fatality, on city-owned roads. So far this year, the city has recorded 55 crashes and no fatalities.

"What we want in Greater Boston is to create a culture and a community that whether you are 8 years old or 80 years old, you feel comfortable getting on a bike and getting to a place where you want to be," Dempsey said.

For people who are considering biking but feel intimidated, Reid, of South Boston, said renting a BlueBike and heading out on a bike path is a great way to start.

“Even if you think you won’t like it, try it,” she urged. “The more cyclists that are out on Boston streets, the more infrastructure will be easier to support and the more drivers will be aware of it."

And, she believes, the benefits are wide-ranging.

"It's healthier, you know. The air will be cleaner," she said. "Just get out and try it.”

This segment aired on May 23, 2023.