The Landscape Architect’s Guide to


Boston / Cambridge Bike Network

Boston / Cambridge Bike Network

There is really no better way to explore Boston and Cambridge than on the seat of a bicycle. Bicycling offers a quick way to escape throngs of tourists and see interesting parts of the two cities. Besides a few famous hills, both Boston and Cambridge are relatively flat. Both are working hard to make bicycling more enjoyable and safe -- building new and innovative bikeways that connect neighborhoods, commercial centers, and historic sites. This 10-mile tour offers a sample of the different bikeways in Boston and Cambridge, including innovations such as cycle tracks, green bike lanes, bus/bike lanes, bike boxes, and bike corrals.  

Background and Tips for your Trip
Beginning in 2008, Boston began an accelerated program to install new bikeways and now has a growing network of routes that extend throughout the city, with plans to build more. This has been a significant transformation. Boston previously had a reputation as a difficult (if not impossible) place to bike. Cambridge has a long history of designing for bikes and recently won a gold-level bicycle-friendly city ranking by the League of American Bicyclists, becoming the first city on the east coast to achieve that rank.

A robust bike sharing program called Hubway and bike rental shops offer no-fuss options for renting a bike at multiple locations in Boston and Cambridge. Several mobile apps make it quick and easy to find a station and find out how many bikes are available. All you need is a credit card to check out a bike, which can later be returned to any station in the system. Be aware that Hubway is a short-term rental service – costs escalate the longer you keep the bike. There are a variety of other longer-term bike rental options in Boston and Cambridge to choose from, offering different types of bikes (including trailers for kids), as well as helmets and locks.
Some safety tips before you begin: bicycling in any urban environment involves dealing with intersections and traffic. This tour will take you along some roads where you must share travel lanes with cars, buses, and trucks.  If you are uncomfortable riding in traffic, you will need to walk your bike along the sidewalk in these areas (bicycling on sidewalks is allowed on most streets in Cambridge – see more). Bicyclists should yield to pedestrians on pathways and sidewalks. Also, give a warning before passing pedestrians or slower bicyclists. Hubway bikes have bells for this purpose.

Bicyclists must follow the rules of the road. Ride with (not against) traffic and obey traffic signs and signals at all times. Wear a helmet. There are restrictions to bringing your bike on the subway (MBTA) on certain lines and stations and during certain times of the day. Finally, be aware that this route will take you along several streets with parallel parking. Avoid riding too close to parked cars to avoid a crash with a car door that is suddenly opened.

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