Is it safe to bicycle in Boston?

Previously one of America’s most dangerous bicycling cities, Boston has cleaned up its act in recent years, according to a recent study (read more here).

This is personal opinion (not scientific), but I don’t feel safe bicycling the streets of Boston. There are too many distracted, drugged-out drivers on the roads. Therefore, I am only willing to cycle on protected bike paths. Personal opinion regarding “danger” is based on emotion and experience, not science. I frequently walk the streets of Boston, although there is a risk of being shot, run over, etc. For another viewpoint, check out the work of Gabriel Popkin and Colin Harris.

I believe the most important issue is how to make biking and walking safer in cities. Protected bike paths are needed throughout cities. Motor vehicle traffic should be reduced in city centers, not only because of the risk of accidents, but also to reduce traffic-related air pollution exposure.

What do you think? Please consider leaving a comment below.

A photo I took in rural Uganda



4 thoughts on “Is it safe to bicycle in Boston?

  1. Many studies done on this. Only 5% or so of folks will cycle in a city without more protected paths or bike lanes. I do cycle in DC, Portland OR before that. I do pick routes with more traffic and definitely have a bike lane, like 15th St. It’s great to get exercise, avoid parking fees and get there faster than anyone else (except Metro).

  2. Perhaps not as safe as a car, but they physical and emotional benefits outweigh the dangers if you are cautious. I am a much more engaged with my city, and a happier person, worker, Mom, etc., when I bike to work in Atlannta

  3. It depends what you’re looking for when cycling in the city, and what you’re willing to risk for that purpose. Simple transportation? Saving money? Helping the environment? Looking cool? Having fun? Being independent? Exercise?

    For me it’s a combination of the above, but mainly saving time and having fun and being independent.

    Actually, it’s a combination of being independent, which means having the power and skill to get from A to B quickly, which is fun both in its own right, as well as being fun to weave in and out of traffic.

    Let’s call this condition “independofastandfun.” That’s the real reason I bike in Boston, and it’s a major part of who I am.

    Being who I am is the most important thing in my entire life, so I’m willing to risk a decent amount for that.

    We saw a motorcyclist on the interstate a while ago, weaving in and out of traffic at 80 miles an hour. My wife expressed some anger at the biker’s carelessness with the preciousness of life. I agreed at first, but then I thought about the carelessness that most of these drivers were exhibiting on the road. While we were comfortably and safely driving along in our steel boxes, this biker was having an exhilarating experience. Sure, she was risking death, but she was living. We weren’t risking death, but we really weren’t living all that much either.

    We take an enormous risk living a conventional life that isn’t much of a life at all.

    If you are comfortable looking back on your years as you are about to face the eternal void and thinking to yourself “I’m so glad I played it safe and followed the rules and didn’t push the boundaries with this precious life,” then I’d stay off the streets. But if that makes you shudder, then I would be very careful not to look down on those who are pushing it a little bit.

  4. Agree Felipe. In fact, there are some great cities we should try to emulate such as Copenhagen. It would push us into a healthier lifestyle if bike access and walking paths were everywhere.

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