I took a bikeshare ride in Boston on Sunday and, with Americans feeling less free these days, it makes me sad to know that one solution that is so obvious and simple is sitting right in front of our eyes.
The one thing that struck me above all else as I wheeled along the cobbled streets of South Boston, comforting breeze in my hair, was how free I felt. I was able to take a two-and-a-half-hour tour on Hubway, Boston’s excellent bikeshare system, for a total of $6. In the old days, it would have easily cost $30 or so to take a bike tour of any city.
Before I left, I printed a map of sites to see on bikeable roads. I loaded the Hubway app on my iPhone, which I especially love because a compass arrow appears that points you to the nearest bikeshare station, of which there are plenty in Boston. And I took out five different bikes over 150 minutes in order to keep each bike rented for less than 30 minutes, thus avoiding any extra fees.
There is clearly no better way to experience a city, and in a way so equitably for all. You could barely see any sites in that timeframe riding in a car. And you wouldn’t see nearly as many if you walked.
Having never been to Boston before, it was heartening to see a city truly in love with bicycles. Lots of bike lanes. Hubway. Clearly tons of infrastructure geared to cyclists in Cambridge around Harvard University. Dozens and dozens of bikes parked at the Beacon Hill Whole Foods and various other bustling spots throughout the area.
The route I took would be ideal for any bicycle tourist. I started between Faneuil Hall and the Inner Harbor, went up through the North End Italian district, to the beautiful greenways along the Charles River, around Fenway Park, past the brownstones of South Boston on Rutland and Concorde squares and the SW Corridor Path, and ending near Boston Common.
|Gratuitous photo of my baby daughter next to Larry Bird's shoes.|
Nothing against the many Duck tours that circle through the city loaded with tourists, but there is something distinctly “unfree” about being stuck on those tours – fun as they may be, from a different perspective.
Yes, if there’s one thing Americans can do this Fourth of July to reclaim our freedom, it’s hop on a bike … or a bikeshare.