Well, I made that trip to Boston I told you about in March (see “Anniversary Waltz” post). You may remember that Boston relies on Massachusetts law on bicycling issues because of the number of smaller cities that intersect with it. But you may also remember that, in a Boston Reddit conversation over the question of what is a business district in Boston where sidewalk bicycling is prohibited, most commenters reached the same conclusion–treat the entire city as a business district and stay off the sidewalk!
Once I got to Boston I found that Boston bicyclists do what they say. I was especially impressed when our group was transported into downtown Boston on Saturday night to the Atlantic Fish Company restaurant. We were in a minibus so I had plenty of time to observe. And I saw many cyclists in the streets riding along with the auto traffic, stopping at red lights, signalling, knowing they were part of the traffic flow. Some streets we went through had bike lanes; some didn’t. All persons riding bikes were riding them in the street, like adults who knew what they were doing.
The only bicycle I saw on the sidewalk with a person attached was one woman who came from the street, dismounted as soon as she got on the sidewalk and walked her bike the rest of the way to a bike stand. The only people I saw who were careless and clueless were a couple of pedestrians who had hailed a cab and when it stopped a half a block ahead of them, stepped into the bike lane and walked the rest of the way in that lane to the cab. But that also gave me a chance to see how a Boston bicyclist coming up in that lane handled the situation–He saw them, gave a left hand signal, to cars behind in the next lane over and then moved safely into that lane and around the offending pedestrians. All accomplished without any yelling, honking by any party. A wonderful display of city biking and auto awareness as well.
Boston on a Saturday night at least is crowded with traffic on the streets and pedestrians on the sidewalk, not unlike our downtown Central Business District and even my Dupont Circle neighborhood. But everyone gets along by obeying the rules and watching out for each other.
A final note: I found out this weekend that one of the neighbors on my floor had worked in Boston for a while (she was wearing a Boston Lumber t-shirt). So we talked Boston biking for a while. She said she used to bike in Boston and, of course, biked on the streets, just as I did in NYC. And then she said that when she first came here she was amazed at how wide the streets in DC were and the huge number of bike lanes, making it much easier to bike in the streets without incident. SO DC Bicyclists, what’s your excuse for not riding in the streets instead of terrorizing pedestrians on the sidewalks! (Note: My apologies again to those DC cyclists who do the right thing. But unfortunately your good name is being sullied by an increasing number of rogues who don’t. And your bike association, like the NRA, won’t give an inch to make things better.)