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ride to Philadelphia from New York

Old 09-01-14, 08:46 PM
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ride to Philadelphia from New York

I rode from New York to Philadelphia on Sunday. The total ride from my home in Woodhaven to my hotel in Northeast Philadelphia was 116 miles. This is the second longest ride that I have ever done, shy by one mile of the 117-mile ride I took to Seaside Heights two years ago.

I had been mulling over the possibility of doing this ride since the beginning of summer. But, because August was so depressingly cool, I never had the urge to actually do it. The fact that this week has better weather than any week in August made me feel like I couldn't waste this gift; so off I went.

I spent the day Monday riding in Philadelphia, doing 40 miles in almost all parts of town east of the Schuylkill River. I find the city to be a wonderful place for riding. There are many many bike lanes, and very few hills. And the signage is exemplary; every street sign indicates whether the street in question is an arterial, and shows the directions that the street runs.

(Though their directional designations can sometimes be a bit odd: Frankford Ave., which runs generally east-west through Northeast, is signed as north-south, as that is how it begins just east of Center City. Much more curious is the classification as east-west of Welsh Rd., which cuts a north-south path through Northeast.)

In addition, there's signage indicating a "Bicycle PA Route E", which coincided with my ride from the Calhoun St. Bridge to my hotel, and also with my ride towards downtown from Northeast on Torresdale Ave.

It's beautiful to see that bicycling has essentially been completely normalised in Philadelphia. I had no trouble bringing my bicycle into supermarkets, gift shops, delis, and fast food restaurants. I even took it into the Independence shop just north of the Liberty Bell and into the Bourse. I don't typically have any trouble with this in New York, either; but I wasn't sure whether this experience would be the same in Philadelphia as well.

One thing I noticed that was better than my experience at home is that drivers in Philadelphia are much more polite than New York drivers. People actually stop at stop signs; what's more, at those intersections where the red light stop line is far back from the intersection, they stop at the stop line.

The right-on-red rule exists there; and the drivers make a true stop before proceeding. I have seen drivers New York, where we don't have right-on-red, come to only a cursory stop at a red light before making a turn. And in those locations a just outside New York where right-on-red is the rule, such as Long Island, drivers tend to behave with a great deal of impatience. By contrast, there is much less aggression on the road in Philadelphia than in the New York area.

On a side note: I wonder whether there's some confusion amongst Philadelphians as to the origin of pizza! I saw several pizzerias with names such as "Old London Pizza" and "Old English Pizza". I wonder if they sell pizza topped with bangers and mash.

The intervening miles between New York and Philadelphia were much less thrilling. I am perfectly aware that the world needs rural and farm locations; and I enjoy Jersey tomatoes as much as or more than the next guy. But riding through such places really brings me down and saps my will to continue. It was very interesting hitting Trenton and having the sensation of relief. "Ahh, finally a city!", I thought, "a place in which I can feel comfortable".

After that, it was the bridge into a set of Long-Island-like Pennsylvania suburbs, and then back into the urban environment that I love so much.

Now I have to go to bed for the long trip back home all day Tuesday. I'll update this thread with maps and with further comment after I get home. Wish me luck!

Last edited by Ferdinand NYC; 09-01-14 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 09-02-14, 04:57 AM
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Next year consider the BCP's NYC Century. Destination--Brooklyn. It's held the same day. If you are strong enough, you can ride from Philadelphia (mileage about 135.) Otherwise, you can start in New Hope (mileage about 93 miles.) Very nice route. This year was my 15th time riding the event.
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Old 09-02-14, 08:05 AM
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How did you come down from NY exactly through the rural parts?
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Old 09-02-14, 12:46 PM
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I've been thinking about riding to Philly, but a couple of things give me pause, aside from just not getting around to it, so I'm interested in how you did it.

First, how did you get through Jersey City, Newark, and Elizabeth (or did you go some other way)? I've been told that the holiday weekend is one of the few times of the year when you can get through here without dying, and it does look pretty ugly. I've thought about taking the train past Newark and starting from there.

Second, I've taken long rides (though maybe not quite this long), but mostly in and around the city, where are generally transportation options in case something goes wrong (unfixable mechanical problem with the bike or some such). But once you get to the middle of New Jersey, there seems to be nothing. I haven't done much touring, so I wonder how folks plan for such contingencies.
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Old 09-02-14, 01:47 PM
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The route we take from New Hope to Brooklyn goes through Ringoes, Neshanic Station, Raritan/Somerville, Liberty Corner, Lyons, Basking Ridge, the Great Swamp, Gillette and Kenilworth. That's where you pick up the serious traffic. From there, we go through a nicer part of Elizabeth and past Keane College. We cross U.S. 1&9 and ride through the Port of Elizabeth & Newark, something you cannot do with safety during the week. After Doremus Ave. we cross the U.S. 1&( bridges over the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers. We now arrange for volunteer driver who ******* groups over this hairy stretch from behind. Improvements have been made to the walkways (there is a thread about this in this subforum), so you might not have to ride the road. Once in Jersey City, we make our way to Hoboken and catch the ferry from the 14th St. dock to Midtown and then ride down the Hudson bike path to Warren, where we head east to the Brooklyn Bridge.

There are some public transit options later in the route. You can catch NJT trains from Somerville, Lyons, and Gillette. The route also passes close to the Elizabeth station on the Northeast Corridor, the Union Station on the Raritan Valley Line, PATH's Grove St. Station in Jersey City and PATH in Hoboken.

Some people ride all the way from Philly. The Philly to New Hope section is relatively short. If you get stuck, you can wing it or try to find a bus or train.

I take several multi-day tours every year. (On Friday I will be driving to Ohio and riding home to Philly starting Saturday, and I spent 9 days touring in the mountains of Montana back in June.) If your bike is in good mechanical shape when you start out, and you can make basic repairs, the chances of something unfixable happening are slim unless you get into a bad accident. My first tour was nearly four months. There were 13 of us for the first 3 months and then I rode home solo. Over 44,000 bike miles. Not one person had to get a ride due to a mechanical problem.
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Old 09-02-14, 09:39 PM
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The ride home clocked in at 119 miles. So I am the proud owner of a new personal record.

Here, in general terms, was my route: I went over the George Washington Bridge, then down into Hudson County; then from Jersey City over the bridges through Kearny and ultimately to Newark. (By the way, the overgrowth has been removed. The bridge paths are clear.)

From Newark I went south on 27, then picked up 35 and took that to South Amboy. Soon after that, I got on County Road 535 and stayed on it (with one exception where that route took a big jog north, so I stayed on a more direct route and rejoined 535 again later) all the way through to Trenton.

More details and maps to come.

Last edited by Ferdinand NYC; 07-10-15 at 07:34 AM.
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Old 09-03-14, 04:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Ferdinand NYC
I rode from New York to Philadelphia on Sunday. …

It's beautiful to see that bicycling has essentially been completely normalised in Philadelphia…One thing I noticed that was better than my experience at home is that drivers in Philadelphia are much more polite than New York drivers…By contrast, there is much less aggression on the road in Philadelphia than in the New York area.

intervening miles between New York and Philadelphia were much less thrilling. or a I’m perfectly aware that the world needs rural and farm locations; and I enjoy Jersey tomatoes as much as or more than the next guy. But riding through such places really brings me down and saps my will to continue. It was very interesting hitting Trenton and having the sensation of relief. "Ahh, finally a city!", I thought, "a place in which I can feel comfortable".

After that, it was the bridge into a set of Long-Island-like Pennsylvania suburbs, and then back into the urban environment that I love so much
Hi Ferdinand NYC,

I enjoyed reading your ride report. I have brought my bike to Philadelphia on a few occasions to ride in the city in the early morning before conferences, and I will be there in late October. I otherwise ride exclusively in Metro Boston and post to a BF Regional Discussion thread, Metro Boston: Good ride today? I would love to do more riding in the Mid-Atlantic States for a change of scenery, though Metro Boston is a near bicycling heaven.

I was particularly prompted to reply by your attitude toward the cycling environment, summed up by “Ahh finally a city!.” So much of BF riding seems to tout rural and scenic riding, including mountain vistas. Years ago my wife and I toured, including a cross-country ride, and indeed the changing landscape is a definite attraction. But if I have to settle and live in one area, as the song goes, “Dahling I love you, but give me [strike]Park Avenue[/strike] Kenmore Square.

FYA, I recently posted about my urban roads, and a compendium of cycling in Boston, a so-called ”Cyclist’s Guide to the Metroverse.”

(Metro Boston = Hub of the Universe (“The Hub”) = “Metroverse”)

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
…All my cycling as a decades-long, year-round commuter and occasional centurian in Metro Boston ranges from dense urban, to suburban, to exurban, but no rural…Over the years, I have described roads, so for this post I compiled my descriptions in order of cycling pleasure (paved roads only):
  • Enchanted

    Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
    ...There are certain roads I have discovered, unfortunately usually short, that I describe as “intimate,” or “enchanted”; so serene and peaceful, shady, lightly traveled, and without shoulders...
  • Exurban (no residences, no commercial buildings)
  • Residential: Urban (dense, multi-unit dwellings), Suburban (single unattached homes)
  • Light commercial (storefronts close to the sidewalk, street parking)
  • Heavy commercial (shopping malls, driveway accesses, parking lots)
  • Industrial: (dreary vistas, rough roads, debris-strewn)
But,

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
… almost every road is a good road if you ride it early enough in the day.
Sincerely,

Jim from Boston

PS: It just occured to me, though I don't ride in the downtown proper, I should probably add a category of "Downtown," as typified by the urban canyons and narrow, often-crowded streets of Manhattan, or the Financial District of Boston. Downtown riding would, IMO rank just ahead of "heavy commercial."

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 09-03-14 at 08:08 AM. Reason: Addded PS
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Old 09-03-14, 09:02 AM
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Damn, Ferdinand! That is an amazing run. Glad you had a blast!

For a while, I have been toying with the idea of cycling to my sister's in South Jersey, near Philly. She is in Hammonton. The problem for me with your route is that going all the way up to the GWB for me is 24 miles right there. I was thinking of either going through one of the tunnels (I think the Holland has a bike path through it?) or while I prefer to bike the whole route, taking a ferry across to Jersey City. That is 122 miles. If I don't want to cycle that many miles, I could always take the ferry from the World financial Center to Middletown. That cuts the miles down to about 93. I could handle both, I'm sure, so I have to decide which way to go when ready.

Anyway, congrats again in an awesome cycling trip!
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Old 09-03-14, 02:25 PM
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Errr..., no. No bicycles in the tunnels. Aside from getting squashed like a bug, you'd asphyxiate.
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Old 09-03-14, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by wilfried
Errr..., no. No bicycles in the tunnels. Aside from getting squashed like a bug, you'd asphyxiate.
I thought there was a thread in here somewhere about the Holland or Lincoln Tunnels and some associated bike path. lol Oh well.

Not sure I would want to go all the way North to the GW then all the way South to make up the distance. I think if you're coming from Ferdinand's area, the GW makes more sense, but I am so far South in Brooklyn.
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Old 09-03-14, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by ChiroVette
I thought there was a thread in here somewhere about the Holland or Lincoln Tunnels and some associated bike path. lol Oh well.

Not sure I would want to go all the way North to the GW then all the way South to make up the distance. I think if you're coming from Ferdinand's area, the GW makes more sense, but I am so far South in Brooklyn.
So take a ferry or a train out of Manhattan and make it a two-day ride.
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Old 09-03-14, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by wilfried
Errr..., no. No bicycles in the tunnels. Aside from getting squashed like a bug, you'd asphyxiate.
You wouldn't asphyxiate. The people in their cars don't asphyxiate; and neither, for that matter, do people on motorcycles. The whole problem is that, when they built the tunnels, they never thought to make a lane for us in there.

I recently saw a video of a guy who snuck into the Holland Tunnel on his bike. But I can't find it now; all the searches return clips of legal rides when the tunnel is open only to bikes. Anyway, this guy rode all the way through, narrating his journey in real time. He had to hide from the cops going in and coming out. And he almost did get squashed: at one point in his video he says that his front tire grazed a car's tire.

It was a terribly dangerous stunt. But it illustrated that bicycles could easily get through the tunnels alongside cars, if only there were room for a lane.

On another note: I will really try to get those maps up tomorrow. I didn't have any tracking thing like Map My Ride or Strava going during the ride; I needed to keep my phone on ultra-power-save mode, so I couldn't have those applications running. I therefore have to re-create the maps in order post them. I really want to do that, so I can get people's thoughts on the details.
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Old 09-03-14, 05:46 PM
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Fine, call it hyperbole. Driving through the tunnel with the windows down is dreadfully unpleasant.

I once rollerbladed through the Lincoln Tunnel for some charity thing. That was pretty cool.
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Old 09-04-14, 01:02 PM
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Here are the maps of the routes that I took to and from Philadelphia:


going down:
https://maps.google.com/maps?q=https:...2F519421752%2F


coming home:
https://maps.google.com/maps?q=https:...2F524193534%2F


There are only a few differences between them.

Within Philadelphia, I took Torresdale Ave. to Kensington Ave. to Lehigh Ave., all three with bike lanes; then Lehigh to 6th St., which I took to the Center City area. I noodled around there for a while looking (unsuccessfully) for a Philadelphia flag. I had affixed a New York City flag to my helmet; and I wanted a Philadelphia flag to go with it. But none of the gift shops had one. I visited Humphrey's Flag Shop across the street from the Betsy Ross House; but it was closed on Monday for the holiday.

I then went over to get a good look at the Ben Franklin Bridge before heading to South Philly. I took 6th St. all the way down to Oregon Ave. (which also has a bike lane), which I took a couple of blocks over to 10th St., and then made a left to get down to the ballparks.

I didn't know about the statues of Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, and Connie Mack! They were great to see; though the sun was in a bad position for my pictures of the Mack statue. If I had known, I would have gone down there earlier in the day, when the sun would have been illuminating that statue's front.

I then went around the corner to the basketball arena, and saw the Dr. J statue. That one I did know about; that's the statue I mainly wanted to see. My pictures of that came out great, as the sun was perfectly positioned. I should have brought a Nets hat in order to reclaim Julius for New York! It's good that the statue's plaque mentions his having been a member of two ABA champions; but I was sorry to see that it doesn't mention the Nets by name.

After soaking in that atmosphere for a while, I headed back. I took 10th St. north, then jumped over to 11th St. when 10th became one-way against me. That led me on to Passayunk Ave.; I then turned left at 9th St. to continue north, passing through the Italian and Chinese sections. When 9th St. dead-ended, I went back over to 11th (finding another nice bike lane on part of that street), and took that up to Cecil B. Moore Ave.

There I turned eastward, and took Cecil B. Moore almost all the way to Frankford Ave. (Because Cecil B. Moore became one-way against me at Front St., I had to ziggety-zag via Palmer St. in order to reach Frankford.) I then took Frankford back to Northeast, where the hotel was.

I passed nice looking bike lanes on Spring Garden Lane and Packer St.; but I didn't get to use them. I see plenty of other bike lanes on the map that I didn't encounter at all, such as Aramingo Ave., Allegheny Ave., and Columbus Blvd. Then there's Pennypack Park, which has a bike path running through it. I wanted to explore this when I crossed it on Torresdale and Frankford Aves.; but there wasn't time. With only one day to ride around the town, there was only so much that I could do.

It's impressive how vast Philadelphia is. I like being in cities such as Jersey City, Hoboken, Yonkers, etc.; but they are so small that you can go end-to-end in minutes. I had never before been in a city whose size is on the scale of New York.

I'd love to get back there at some point and see more. Maybe next time I'll find out if I can bring the bike on the Amtrak, and have several days of riding just in Philadelphia, without all that tedious mucking about in New Jersey. (Note: this is a Hitchhiker's Guide reference.)

Last edited by Ferdinand NYC; 02-03-15 at 11:02 PM.
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Old 09-04-14, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Ferdinand NYC
Here are the maps of the routes that I took to and from Philadelphia:


going down:
https://maps.google.com/maps?q=https:...2F519421752%2F


coming home:
https://maps.google.com/maps?q=https:...2F524193534%2F

Thanks for posting your routes! I've been planning to to Brooklyn > Philly for a couple years now GWB, but never got around to it.

I usually opt for straight and simple and it looks like your route accomplishes that, but are there any sections you would recommend against?
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Old 09-04-14, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by 40 Cent
Thanks for posting your routes! I've been planning to to Brooklyn > Philly for a couple years now GWB, but never got around to it.
I hope it will be helpful!


Originally Posted by 40 Cent
I usually opt for straight and simple and it looks like your route accomplishes that, but are there any sections you would recommend against?
No, I don't think so. The only slightly problematic section is the oft-discussed connection between Jersey City and Newark through Kearny. But, as mentioned earler, at least the bridge paths have been cleared of overgrowth.

Even those places where County Road 535 seems to cross major highways are not bad. I had some doubts about the ramps where it crosses NJ 18 on the way back to New York; but it was just fine.
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Old 09-05-14, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by wilfried
First, how did you get through Jersey City, Newark, and Elizabeth (or did you go some other way)? I've been told that the holiday weekend is one of the few times of the year when you can get through here without dying, and it does look pretty ugly.
Search for my thread, "New York to Newark, It's going to happen" on this forum! I was the first one to "Break Thru" and report on my discovery!! ;-)
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Old 09-05-14, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Ferdinand NYC
It's impressive how vast Philadelphia is. I like being in cities such as Jersey City, Hoboken, Yonkers, etc.; but they are so small that you can go end-to-end in minutes. I had never before been in a city whose size is on the scale of New York.
Philadelphia is huge but it's a very poor city. Thouands of abandoned homes reminds me of Detroit in a sense. The center of the city is so small compared to Manhattan and then you're in a slum! The city hall is just incredible.

They have SEPTA and it's very good in terms of transit. It's one of the few cities that did not destroy their trolleys. It's only when you get way out to the burbs that it becomes nice again. I went years ago for a folding bike roundup!
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Old 09-07-14, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
Philadelphia is huge but it's a very poor city. Thouands of abandoned homes reminds me of Detroit in a sense. The center of the city is so small compared to Manhattan and then you're in a slum! The city hall is just incredible.
I didn't see abandoned buildings or really any terrible slum areas. Though I did see plenty of interesting livable areas, both directly north and south of Center City, urban neighbourhoods reminiscent of Bushwick; some bustling spots in South Philly, which reminded me of Jamaica or of The Hub in the Bronx; and less interesting but still fairly pleasant ones in Northeast, reminiscent of several places in Queens -- though with bike lanes, despite the remoteness from the city's core.

I don't doubt that there are some slums somewhere; all cities have them. But that's certainly not the dominant impression that one gets from wandering around the city.

Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
They have SEPTA and it's very good in terms of transit. It's one of the few cities that did not destroy their trolleys. It's only when you get way out to the burbs that it becomes nice again. I went years ago for a folding bike roundup!
Having ridden through the Bucks County suburbs between Trenton and Philadelphia, I sure didn't find those places nice. Just the nondescript characterless nowheresvilles that abound in Long Island. It was a pleasure to cross the city line.

If I get a chance to go there again, I will have to experience their transit system.
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Old 02-01-15, 06:01 PM
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I know this is bumping up an old thread, but I am planning to ride from NYC to Rehoboth, DE in the spring and decided I would try to do my homework early. I will probably do it over 2 days and stay with a friend in Philadelphia overnight. Does anyone have a gpx/tcx file for a GPS to make my life easier? My plan is to take the ferry from Manhattan to Hoboken or Jersey City. I am most worried about the first part of the ride until I get past Newark or even a little further. I am also planning on going along the Canal trails in NJ, but I am not sure how road bike-friendly those are. Anyone ride along those? I am doing this on a 1977 Schwinn Superior (probably) so I am uncertain how I will fare on something describes as "fine crushed stone." Any help is appreciated.
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Old 02-04-15, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by punkinevil
I am also planning on going along the Canal trails in NJ, but I am not sure how road bike-friendly those are. Anyone ride along those? I am doing this on a 1977 Schwinn Superior (probably) so I am uncertain how I will fare on something describes as "fine crushed stone." Any help is appreciated.
Are you referring to the Raritan River tow path? I would also be interested in knowing how other bicyclists fared on that. It's meant for bicycling; but the surface doesn't look too inviting.


On an older comment in this thread, from my "Ahh, finally a city!" buddy Jim from Boston:


Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
Metro Boston is a near bicycling heaven.
Really? I will admit that I have been scared off of Boston because of the many reports of insane drivers.

Remember in my original post I mentioned that the Philadelphia drivers were noticibly more polite than the drivers in New York, for whom a stop sign is just as often ignored as honoured, and who regularly speed through intersections after a light has turned red. But one reads often about Boston drivers being more aggressive even than those in New York. Do you find this to be true?
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