Boston Bikes

April 4, 2014 Boston


Boston Bikes was established in 2007 by then-Mayor Thomas M. Menino. At the time, Boston had only 60 yards of bike lanes and was frequently cited as the worst city for bicycling in the country. In the years since, Boston has transformed into one of the best cities for cycling, earning Silver-level designation as a bicycle-friendly community from the League of American Bicyclists.

How does it work?

Boston Bikes oversees or facilitates bicycle-advancement projects across the city. These include:

  • Bicycling infrastructure such as bike lanes, best-practice traffic controls, and expanded bike parking.
  • Establishment and promotion of the Hubway bike share service.
  • Education to youth and adults, in the public schools and in conjunction with community centers and programs.
  • Partnerships with other community agencies to support their own bicycle-friendly efforts.
  • Special community programs such as Roll it Forward and Bike to Market. These programs advance bicycling within all Boston neighborhoods, specifically targeting those that might not otherwise have access to bicycles.
  • Community events and public gatherings to celebrate bicyclists and bring new riders into the fold. Bike Week and Bike Fridays specifically aim to increase the number of bicycle commuters.

Bicycle use in Boston is growing rapidly as a result of these efforts. Cycling to work doubled between 2007 and 2013, according to the American Community Survey, and other surveys show double-digit increases in all types of bicycling.

The City of Boston is committed to helping more residents and visitors get on bikes and to making it safer to ride. Encouraging more bicycle trips is an important component of the City’s Climate Action Plan, which sets a 2020 target of increasing the share of commute trips by bike to 10 percent. The 2013 Cyclist Safety Report sets a goal of decreasing bicycle crashes by 50 percent in the same time frame. The City’s Complete Streets Guidelines establishes standards for creating “a citywide network that increases safety and encourages more people to bicycle.”

Looking ahead

The Boston Bike Network Plan is intended to support the growing number of bicyclists and help the city reach its sustainability and safety goals. This plan:

  • Was developed with the input of city departments, state agencies, and hundreds of citizens who spoke up at open houses, made suggestions through an online mapping tool, or served on a Citizens Working Group.
  • Lays out a plan for creating safer streets for bicycling that will attract and support new riders while improving the safety and comfort of all bicyclists.
  • Identifies a comprehensive network of bicycle routes through the city, calling for 75 miles of new facilities in the next five years and reaching a network of 356 miles within 30 years.

The Boston Bike Network Plan proposes a seamless network of on and off-street routes linking destinations from one end of Boston to the other. Two key principles, identified during the public process, guided development of the plan:

  1.  The network must provide direct connectivity to destinations such as workplaces, schools, parks, and public transportation 

  2. The network must provide comfortable and safe bicycle paths, lanes, and shared streets that appeal to new and existing riders.

Integrated with the Network Plan is Connect Historic Boston, a 2013 federally funded initiative involving the City and the National Park Service. The initiative’s goal is to improve walking, biking, and public transit connections to historic sites in downtown Boston and to other employment, tourist, and entertainment destinations. It includes two cycle track projects: a two-mile track linking the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Beacon Hill, and regional shared-use trails (the single largest bicycle infrastructure project undertaken to date in the city); and a protected multi-use path through the historic Charlestown Navy Yard. Construction will begin in early 2015. 

For more information, contact:

Nicole Freedman
Director, Boston Bikes
City of Boston