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No More Helmet Head Hair

2012 February 24

By Alice Kaufman

It’s turned cold in New England now so I’ve had to change my commute. But when the weather is nice, and temperatures are well above freezing in the morning, I ride my bike the five miles to the commuter rail station.

The train ride is the real start of the work day, when I check emails and correspond with early birds in the office. At the other end of the 50-minute ride to North Station, I slip my key into the parking meter, pick up a shared bike and ride the last mile to the office. Then there’s an official station where I can park the bike right across the street from the entrance to the building where I work.

Boston’s new bike sharing program, in case you don’t know about it, is called Hubway. It exists through a partnership with the city, the Massachusetts Dept. of Transportation, the MBTA, the Federal Transit Administration, New Balance shoe company, and others.

If I were to drive to work every day instead of taking the train, I would be responsible for 4,958 pounds of carbon each year added to the atmosphere. My winter driving to the train accounts for 826 pounds of CO2 a year.

Boston’s bike-sharing program started in the summer of 2011 with 600 indestructible bicycles and 60 stations around the city. The program is planning to add stations in Cambridge and Brookline too. Before the snow fell, the bikes were put away for the season, as was my bike.

Bike-sharing programs are also underway in Paris, London, Barcelona, Melbourne, in New York City, Denver, Boulder, Washington DC, Minneapolis, and Portland (Ore.), not to mention Wuhan and Hangzhou, China.

City biking is not for the faint-hearted, though. It can be scary sharing the lane with buses, motorists and jaywalkers. You’ve got to have your wits about you at all times, ever observant of car doors opening and vehicles making abrupt stops. A good helmet is an absolute must and reflective clothing helps as the days towards winter grow short and dark.

For now, during the winter, I am content with driving to the train station and walking 10 minutes from Boston’s South Station to my office. But I always welcome the spring and return of the Boston’s bike sharing bikes.

More info on Hubway
More info on bike sharing

About the author: Alice Kaufman works in EPA’s Boston office. She loves to travel, is an avid backcounty hiker, and frequently tromps through Thoreau’s woods in her home town with her husband and kids, and Watson, her mischievous Golden Retriever.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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11 Responses leave one →
  1. James Keleher permalink
    February 24, 2012

    Dublin has had a program for a couple of years now and it is less expensive than the Boston program. I think it is a great idea, although I’ve not tried it yet.

  2. luna permalink
    February 24, 2012

    “Dublin has had a program for a couple of years now and it is less expensive than the Boston program. I think it is a great idea, although I’ve not tried it yet.”
    I think, too

  3. alexander permalink
    February 25, 2012

    it is interesting.

  4. Larry Teller permalink
    February 27, 2012

    Hello, Alice, It’s a pleasure to see how much you’re enjoying the biking ends of your commute. May I ask 2 questions: From your experience w Hubway, what would you change in pricing, stations, bikes, safety (I’d add trolley tracks to your list of hazards); and what do you do about “helmet head hair,” especially when it’s hot and sweaty up your way? Larry T.

  5. Call Yourself a Biker? permalink
    February 27, 2012

    So your solution to not having helmet hair, is to not ride?? Maybe change your headline, so as not to indicate you have a good solution to the problem, but instead to indicate you don’t like to ride when the weather gets a bit chilly.

  6. Barbara N permalink
    February 28, 2012

    Very interesting post, I like the idea behind bike sharing. I heard it is becoming quite popular in Belgium too.
    Hope we will develop a bike sharing program in Germany as well.

  7. Alice K permalink
    February 28, 2012

    Hubway is pretty convenient. I pay a $60 annual membership and can ride as often as I like. The bikes are really hulks, not built for speed. So if you are looking for a road bike esperience, these bikes are not that. Safety is a huge problem and Boston drivers are known to be agressive and rule averse. I try to take the secondary roads on my commute to stay clear of morning traffic and buses.

    As for the helmet head, I have curly hair and find that a spritz from my water bottle helps it spring back into shape.

    Here’s to spring…

  8. May 28, 2012

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  9. Helmets save lives permalink
    June 23, 2013

    Interesting the article is titled No More Helmet Head Hair but of course you should be wearing a helmet even for the short journey to/from the station! I’ve seen several other cities do this now and it’s been well received.

  10. Carol permalink
    July 20, 2013

    There are such programs almost everywhere in the world. I like my bike but I prefer calm biking in the woods instead of scary streets of my city. You never know what hits you from the side or from behind and you must keep your eyes open around your head. It is not for me.

  11. lokshair permalink
    November 14, 2014

    Thank for your sharing, I like this story

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