Aug 22, 2022 - News

Boston cyclists gear up for commute during Orange Line shutdown

Cyclists on a ride.
Kicking off Sunday on two wheels. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios

With the Orange Line's monthlong closure underway, I decided it's time to learn the rules of the road as a cyclist.

  • I joined a group ride on Sunday catering to new riders, hosted by the Boston Cyclists Union.

"Biking" the news: Some passengers are exploring alternatives to commuting, including bikes.

  • The cyclists union has capitalized on the increased interest to organize a group ride to help riders like me learn routes and safety tips.
  • They also repaired bikes before the rides took off Sunday.

Why it matters: The Orange Line closure stands to upend the commutes of not only MBTA passengers, but also virtually everyone traveling in Greater Boston, transit officials say.

  • Learning the rules for cyclists can make commuting a lot less stressful, and less dangerous.

Details: The Cyclists Union led two groups from Forest Hills to downtown Boston.

  • A little more than a dozen of us joined the first ride, traveling protected bike paths on the Southwest Corridor and then Columbus Avenue.
  • Most drivers were respectful, but that's at least partly because the union's co-leaders flanked the newer riders and parked themselves in front of cars when we crossed intersections.

What they're saying: Emma Reading, 27, joined the group ride to learn the routes between Forest Hills and downtown Boston.

  • "I've only been here for about a year. I'd never lived in a city before, and just would have been too nervous to use my bike while I've been here, so this seemed like a good way to get to know how to bike properly in a city," said Reading, who is moving from Brighton to Jamaica Plain in September.

City Councilor Kendra Lara, who represents District 6, stopped by the meeting spot. She had planned to join the ride, but had a scheduling conflict.

  • "I always say we are each other's responsibility, and in a moment of crisis like a month long shutdown of the train, we have to be each other's responsibility, and this is the way that you do it," Lara said of the group ride.

Pro tips: If you're on a bike lane alongside parked cars, ride as closely to the line away from the parked cars as possible, says Dylan Breuer, a West Roxbury resident and co-host of KPFK's podcast "Bike Talk."

  • Others recommend avoiding riding near buses and large trucks, because they likely can’t see cyclists.

The verdict: I'm not sure I'd feel safe riding by myself along Columbus Avenue, but the rest of the ride was exhilarating and convenient.

The bottom line: Even if you aren't biking to work, you're probably going to have to make some adjustments over the next month.

  • "I think we're probably going to have to get creative with this, because I have a feeling it's not going to last for just one month," Reading said.
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