Friday, July 25, 2008

Bike Friday ride to Boston

Today was the first of Bike Friday rides into the center of Boston from various points north, south, and west. I rode up to Lexington to the start of one of the rides (sure, it passed right through Arlington anyway, but why not do a longer ride?)

After days of crazy thunderstorms and a persistent downpour that soaked me to the bone yesterday, today was perfect. Whew!

There were probably almost 20 riders in Lexington, but we picked up more in Arlington, Davis Square, Porter Square, and Harvard Square, and by the time we crossed the Longfellow Bridge, our group was probably almost 100 strong.

The ride was delightful, and I had some nice chats with people along the way.

When we converged upon Government Center, there was little fanfare, but lots of bikers, free breakfast, and some tents set up by sponsoring vendors - nothing exciting, by any means.

All in all, a really nice morning!

For next year, though, here are a few things they could improve:

  • Get police escorts who know the route, and the neighborhood. As friendly as they were, our two escorts were clearly based in Boston, and didn't know anything about Cambridge, let alone the route we were riding.
  • Plan a better route through Harvard Square. The route our guide took us on was circuitous, going round the bottom of Cambridge Common, and eventually heading back across Mass Ave before finally eeking over to Broadway.
  • Have a plan for what happens at red lights. Our escort stopped traffic for the first dozen or so riders, and the rest were left to their own devices. The group was split several times, and following groups went the wrong way. Made me wonder if these guys had ever escorted a big city ride before. Which leads me to my next point:
  • Train escorts and guides in how to lead a big city ride. It's not enough to go out and ride the route, shouting encouragement and directions here and there. Particularly with a group like this, when everyone thinks they're better qualified and persistently shouts tips to the leaders (I somehow resisted that urge!)
  • Publicize the ride better. From the lot that showed up, it seemed to me that at least 80 percent of the participating riders are regular riders, if not regular commuters. That tells me that they all heard about it the same way I did - through bike advocacy channels. Next time, let's get more novices! A police escort should be a nice way to get a nervous rider out and riding.
  • Be more clear in communications. I was thoroughly confused by the information provided about this ride. It took me several emails just to confirm where my branch started, and where. Turns out that all the essential info was embedded into the Google Map.

Despite these little areas for improvement, it seemed that the ride was a great success, and I'm looking forward to doing the next one in August!

Here's a little Youtube video I shot this morning.


pat said...

That was SO MUCH FUN Loved the video, and honestly, it should get to the media in Boston somehow. If you want to publicize the ride AND let the powers that be in on your suggestions, that'd be a great way to do it.

shane said...

I really enjoyed your video, and your post, I have used your video on my website, it is a quickly growing community of cyclists in the Boston area. Your blogging style is really nice, I would love to talk to you more about moving your blog over to our system (it is super easy). If you are interested drop me a line