No More Helmet Head Hair

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.

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