There is currently a surge in BlueBike usage in Boston due to the recent Orange Line shutdown on the T. BlueBike use has seen a 40 percent surge in recent weeks.

The increase was seen immediately in the first week of the 30-day Orange Line shutdown. Advocates for bike usage, most notably Mayor Michelle Wu, have pushed biking as an excellent alternative to driving during the shutdown. The increased number of drivers on the road has been to blame for higher congestion on main highways and metropolis streets.

The City of Boston has implemented a program that lets commuters have free 30-day BlueBike passes during the shutdown. While some commuters may be new to commuting via bicycle, and may not know the best route to their destination, MassDOT and Boston Cyclists Union have collaborated to compile the best advisable routes they can follow. These various paths weave far from where the Orange Line shuttle buses are departing.

Despite bikers typically having difficulties navigating the rugged terrain of the streets of Boston, these incentives have helped increase interest in biking instead of driving. Boston is America’s fourth most congested city and drivers have lost 78 hours in traffic.

The shutdown of the Orange Line has created a renewed interest in alternative transportation methods. This biking surge may have a lasting impact on the city even after the Orange Line service begins again. The adverse effects of car usage, and the apparent dilemma with driving in the midst of traffic, have led residents to look at alternatives in recent years. From taking the train to riding bikes, commuters these days are presented with several options that have been underutilized in the past.

Although the surge in bikers on the streets is news to rejoice, there are still problems that have arisen as a result. The Boston Cyclist Union has urged caution when taking to the streets, as the bikers “have blind spots, and they are new to the city, and they are new to these routes. So, just really give buses as much space as possible”. Additionally, the city’s infrastructure is not adequately structured to support bikers or pedestrians. Eliza Parad from the Boston Cyclist Union has concerns regarding bikers taking the Southwest Corridor Park route, which allows bikers to ride along the Orange Line from Forest Hills to Massachusetts Avenue. Her concern is mainly focused on the end of the path and what bikers will do once they reach it and find they no longer have a dedicated, protected path to ride along.

Protected bike lanes allow for safer transportation for cyclists. The introduction of protected bike lanes has shown to be beneficial when aiming to increase biker ridership. Physical separation from cars is also essential for rider safety and making potential bikers feel safer. The greater Boston area has already implemented plans to help develop the bike lanes and make them more accessible for nearby neighborhoods. Although the development of bike lanes creates tensions in some cities, such as Cambridge, it is still beneficial for all parties involved. The city of Cambridge has passed an ordinance requiring the construction of 25 miles of bike lanes along Massachusetts Avenue by 2026. More moves such as this can accelerate the time needed to make the greater Boston area a bike-friendly city, and one that is centered around people instead of cars.  

The biking surge seen in the recent week is great since it has initiated a plan aimed at building infrastructure that is less car-focused and more focused on bikers and pedestrians on the streets. Many challenges still await, but overall, Boston is poised to be potentially one of the cities with more bike riders than drivers in daily commutes.

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