Greetings from Massachusetts!
I don’t love to compare cities with awesome bicycle accommodations to Miami’s developing status, but I’ve been lucky enough to pedal around Boston this weekend and figured this would be a good chance to cover what’s going on outside of South Florida. I’ve not had the pleasure of bicycling a city outside of Miami, so while on vacation up here, I decided to try a first-hand experience. Here’s how it went:
I started in Waltham, a happy little township about 15 miles outside of Boston’s center. The town is along the Charles River, a waterway that winds into Boston proper. Along the river is the 17 mile-long Charles River Reservation, a park offering outlets to town along its route and a lengthy bicycle trail into Boston. The trail is gorgeously surrounded by trees, wildlife (I saw a wild bunny rabbit -- who knew those existed?) and a consistent view of the river. I easily forgot the commercial centers mere yards away from the path.
The Reservation, a joyful ride for its ambience, did have some issues. Poor signage in town centers made the broken pathway hard to follow. The trail broke at major thoroughfares and then continued a block or two on either side of the river with nothing but short cement obelisks as gateway landmarks. These, mixed with the path’s complete lack of directional signs or maps to notify riders of their location, made for several baffling adventures in asking for directions.
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I made Boston after an hour of trailing. Deposited in Cambridge, I rode around Central Square, Brookline and Jamaica Plains, eventually taking a trip around Jamaica Pond before heading back.
These locations demonstrated Boston’s excellence as a bicycle friendly city. Constant reminders to “Share the Road” were posted along most streets. There seemed to be plenty of bike lanes along the roads, even on side streets with seemingly low traffic density. Cars were uber-respectful of bicyclists, miraculously accommodating my road space by slowing, stopping, or waiting for me to ride into a clear area. Bicyclists are welcome to share the streets, even if they are not provided with bike lanes.
Between roadway laws strictly enforced upon motorists and bicyclists alike, and various resources accommodating riders, Boston does some bicycle-loving to model a friendly city after. Considering that the streets in Boston are narrow, heavily populated and, most illogically, laid down on top of Revolutionary War period cattle trails, it seems reasonable to hope that Miami, with its grid system and wide roads, can adapt a similar degree of accommodation. While pondering that, I suggest taking a ride up here if the opportunity presents itself.
- Adam Schachner