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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 10-12-04, 05:59 AM   #1
digs
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how's the commute in Boston?

It seems that I may be moving to Boston for school, and was considering leaving my car here and just taking the bike. How's the commute in Boston?
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Old 10-12-04, 06:50 AM   #2
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I lived in Boston for a couple of years while working for the Coast Guard. I only drove my truck when I was going out of town, otherwise it sat on the base. I rode my bike or took the subway everywhere else. I also had a bike permit for the subway so I could take my bike out of town on the train.
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Old 10-12-04, 07:30 AM   #3
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Need more information to really say (what school? where do you think you'll live?)

In general, if you are lving in Boston or Cambridge, you'll have little need for a car and parking one can be a real hassle, especially during the winter if they declare a snow emergency and you need to get it off the street. The T is quite good and there are commuter rail lines to get you out into the suburbs. (see http://www.mbta.com/) Both the T and commuter rail only allow bikes OFF PEAK, so check those times, if you plan on using them as part of a bike commute.

Riding around Boston/Cambridge is not exactly wonderful, with many potholes, skinny streets and a fair number of obnoxious drivers. There is some really nice riding outside the city and some of the bike paths are glorious. (See http://www.minutemanbikeway.org/, that's about half of my commute.)
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Old 10-12-04, 08:18 AM   #4
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the area/school would be MIT... thanks for the replies thus far...
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Old 10-12-04, 08:25 AM   #5
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Boston has a reputation as a bad place for cyclists, but I commute about 15 miles/day, right into downtown, and I really don't have a problem with it. The roads are not in the best condition, but traffic moves slowly, so I can usually just take the lane and keep up with cars.

Also, Boston is a _terrible_ place to drive, and parking is expensive and hard to find. I flat out refuse to drive into Boston.

What school are you going to? If it's in the city (as opposed to just outside it), I'd leave the car at home -- between subway, bus, and bike you'll be fine. If it's in one of the surrounding towns, driving may be a little better, and public transit a little more sparse, so the car might be useful, but certainly not necessary.
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Old 10-12-04, 09:37 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by digs
the area/school would be MIT... thanks for the replies thus far...
That's pretty much a no-brainer. Ditch the car. MIT has limited parking, so you'll either be searching for an (elusive) spot and worrying about tickets or damage or paying for parking which is also a hassle and quite expensive to boot.

If you really need a car to haul something. zipcar.com has a bunch of cars around here (I'm basically at MIT, BTW.)

As far as the ride, assuming you are somewhere around Cambridge/Somerville, it's not too bad. The roads can be rough but Cambridge has actually done a lot of repaving and they're getting better. I ride from the end of the bike path to MIT and what was an absolute joke earlier this year is now much better. Nice, even.

A ton of people bike commute to MIT, so you won't be alone or anything close to it. A bike is probably the fastest to get around Cambridge.

Keep in mind that once the snow is on the ground, you're probably going to be primarily on the T. Cold aside, ice starts to stay on the ground and on the sides of the road.
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Old 10-12-04, 09:41 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by digs
the area/school would be MIT... thanks for the replies thus far...
Leave the car. I'm at MIT. I've lived in a few places while I've been here so I've commuted from different parts of Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville, and a bike is the only way to go. MIT is very bike-friendly and very car-unfriendly, public transport varies depending on where you live but is always slower than riding. There is a bike garage on campus, some labs have their own little bike rooms, and a lot of people just park their bike by their desk. If you're going to be riding over the river, invest in some warm gear for the winter. The best LBS by far is Ace Wheelworks, about 2 miles from campus.

The biggest problem with riding a bike in Boston/Cambridge is the psycho drivers. I've been doing this long enough that I don't notice and I've never had an accident, but if you're new to riding in traffic you may want to stay on less congested streets (i.e. not Mass Ave) for awhile. Good luck.
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Old 10-12-04, 10:07 AM   #8
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Yeah, leave the car. You're better off in Cambridge with a bike.
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Old 10-12-04, 10:27 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by elicheez
The best LBS by far is Ace Wheelworks, about 2 miles from campus.
Second that, but I'd also add that Broadway Bicycle School is closer and is really good for repairs - and if you don't want them to do it, you can rent a stand and use their tools for about $9 an hour, IIRC. And if you get stuck, a mechanic will help you out for a nominal charge, or teach you how to fix something.

Very cool.
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Old 10-12-04, 11:09 AM   #10
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I'd add that I came to Boston from New York and was amazed at how small (geographically) Boston is. There's hardly anywhere within Boston (including Brighton, Allston, Roxbury, Dorchester, etc.), Cambridge, Somerville, or Brookline that you can't get to by bike within 45 minutes.
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