Biking is an inexpensive and fun way to commute to work while at the same time, giving you the opportunity to relax, exercise, and get some fresh air. The League of American Bicyclists found that just 3 hours of biking each week can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by 50 percent! Not much is needed to get started with bike commuting, just a decent bike and a lock. Biking is practical for anyone who wants to travel 2-15 miles each way.
General safety tips
- Follow the rules of the road, ride with traffic and obey traffic lights and stop signs
- Always yield to pedestrians, especially at crosswalks
- Watch out for car doors opening, if you can, ride at the very edge of a bike lane or at least 4 feet away from a parked car
- If you are new to cycling, avoid busy streets and roads with a high speed limit, stick to bike paths such as the path along the Charles River or the Southwest Corridor. See Boston bikes map with color-coded streets by ability
Tips for starting out
- Find a bike you are comfortable riding on and fits you well, you don’t need anything too fancy, but if the bike is fitted to your body, you will feel more comfortable and experience less aches and pains.
- It is helpful if your commuting bike has the following: fenders for your tires so you don’t kick up mud on your clothes, a rear rack to snap in bike bags for storage, a bell to notify pedestrians or other cyclists, and front and rear lights.
- Map out a route ahead of time (such as with mapmyride.com) and try out your route on the weekend, note any tricky intersections, narrow areas, the amount of debris on the road, and adjust your route as necessary.
- Depending on the length of your ride and how much you sweat, you can either wear your work clothes or workout clothes but the more you cycle, the more you may want to invest in some cycling gear such as cycling tights, bike gloves, etc.
- Try keeping extra items at your office just in case such as socks, underwear, shirts, shoes, if you have the space.
- If your office has a shower, even better, but if not you can freshen up with wipes, deodorant, and a towel.
- If you don’t have the space to leave clothes in your office, roll your clothes and pack in a bike pannier.
- Purchase a well-fitting helmet and wear it.
- Learn about the most common biking accidents and how to avoid them.
- Remember to wear reflective gear and bright lights to see and be seen at night (a front white light and a rear red light are required).
Properly locking your bike
- Use a U-lock to lock at least your frame and rear tire to a secure object.
- If you have quick release tires, remove front tire and place with rear tire or use a cable lock to secure front tire and frame as well as frame and back tire.
- Lock your bike to a bike rack if available if not; find a well-secured object such as a pole. Do not lock your bike to private property or in places that may block public access and mobility.
- More tips can be found here: Bicycle Security Guide (PDF)
Bikes on the T
- Folded bikes are allowed on the T and commuter rail at any time.
- Bikes are allowed on the Red Line except 7-10am and 4-7pm; Orange Line except 7-10am and 4-7pm, and Blue lines except at 7-9am and 4-6pm.
- Bikes are allowed on the Commuter Rail except during rush hour in the direction of the rush (see shaded areas on the commuter rail timetables).
- Bikes are not allowed on the Green line or Mattapan Trolley but are allowed on ferries at all times.
- Do not enter or exit with bikes at Park Street, Downtown Crossing, or Government Center.
95% of all non-electric buses have bike racks on them. More information can be found here.
Secured Bike Parking at Transit Stations
- Currently there are secure bike cages at: Forest Hills, and Alewife, South Station, Braintree, Oak Grove, and Wonderland stations. Additional bike cages are planned for 2013 at Ashmont, Davis, Malden, Back Bay, Dudley, Wollaston, and Beverly stations.
- In order to access the bike cage, you will need a Charlie bike card which can be found at most station offices. Bicyclists must register either a Charliecard OR their Bike CharlieCard at www.MBTA.com before they are able to access these bike parking facilities.
- The bike cages have security cameras installed but there has been some theft at the bike cages so it is important to properly lock your bike.
- About 95% of MBTA stations have covered bike racks to lock your bike.
Bike commuting in the Winter
- Layering clothes is key, you will likely start off cold but after a few miles warm up so wear several layers that you can peel off as necessary.
- Keep your head, ears, feet, and hands extra warm, once these areas get cold, it’s hard to warm them up. Consider shoe covers for your feet, trail shoes, warm socks, covering the vents on your helmet or adding a winter kit to your helmet, and wearing extra layers of gloves if necessary.
- Keep your bike properly maintained and cleaned during the winter especially after heavy rains or snow this includes: oiling your chain at least once a month or after a heavy rain, check for glass and other debris on your tires after every ride, check your brake pads for wear and tear and replace if necessary, lube your brakes and cables and remember that snow and grit will take its toll on your gears so change gears less often or use a bike with a single speed.
- It is even more important in the winter to wear reflective gear and get good quality bike lights so you can see properly and be seen by cars and pedestrians.
- Read more in our Winter Bike Riding Guide
- Check out A Better City TMA’s events page for more information about upcoming commuter workshops or bike tune-ups and breakfast.
- Learn more about Bike-sharing systems like Hubway and Zagster.
- Our See & Be Seen Resource Guide for People who Bike has even more links and information.
- Sign up for the MassCommute Bicycle Challenge in May .
- Sign up for A Better City TMA’s Workout to Work Program.
- Learn more about driving part-way and biking the remainder of your commute with Park & Pedal.
- Find even more helpful links here.
Bike Shops in Boston
Financial District/North End