Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bicycling around or through Boston Common and the Public Garden

by Hsuan (Eric) Yeh


    Boston Common is a park in downtown Boston, which was founded in 1634, and is one of America's oldest city parks. The Public Garden was established in 1837 when philanthropist Horace Gray petitioned for the use of land as the first public botanical garden in the United States. Nowadays, people just go walking, picnic, and also bicycling around or through these two areas.

Bicycling “through” Boston Common & Public Garden

    However, as we could see in the Google map, the green lines just mean the cycle tracks around these areas. It is obviously that bikes can go “through” the Boston Common, but are prohibited in the Public Garden. As the author’s observation, that is really meaning that, because we could see the prohibited signs everywhere in Public Garden like this.


    The reason is possible that the walking zone in Public Garden is too narrow. As the author’s observation, during a good sunny day, there are bunch of people walking in Public Garden, and it is very hard to ride a bike among a crowd like this.


    Nevertheless, people can still carry their bikes into Public Garden without riding, if they would like to take a look at the beautiful flowers.


    However, back to Boston Common, people would like to ride the bikes through the common, and it is allowable. As the author’s observation, the most common number of the bikes “through” Boston Common is “2”. The reason might be that there are still people walking on the path in Boston Common, so if there is a large-number group of bicycling riding on the path, that may cause dangerous issue.

The member of the 2-bikes group might be father and daughter, friends, or couples.

Bicycling “around” Boston Common & Public Garden

    There are also bikes going “around” Boston Common and Public Garden. Since the New Balance bicycling was installed in Boston City, it is not so hard to find them in a bicycle friendly area. This is a bike station on Boylston Street @ Arlington Street.


    However, it looks like cycling on Tremont Street near Park Street is more popular. Other possibility is that people might prefer to walk when they get to the intersection of Boylston Street and Arlington Street. Also, there are some bike lanes around Boston Common and Public Garden. This is a sharing lane on Arlington Street.

    The photo aboved is a bike box for bike to make a right turn or pause while waiting in red, which is on Commonwealth Avenue near Arlington Street. It is very friendly for bikes because the bike box let the cyclist have the time to pass to the right side on red and also have the first priority to move when the signal change to green. Therefore, bikes won’t have to worry about a turning car hitting them because cars will wait until the cyclists are moving out of the intersection.

Bike Lane on Commonwealth Ave.

Cyclist waiting in a bike box

However, in the sharing lane, sometimes the left turning cars will occupy the bike lane like this. 

Nevertheless, bikes also can occupy everywhere.

    As the photos showed above, though there are bike lanes around Boston Common and Public Garden, there are still cyclists like the photos above, will ride outside the bike lanes. Thus, the bike lane system around this area is not so perfect to follow. Also, looking at the zoom-in picture of bike lanes around Boston Common, bike lanes around Boston Common are just “inside” the common. That means if cyclists want to follow the bike lanes, they should ride “inside” the common. As the author’s opinion, that will not be a good idea because that just identify bicycle as a “leisure facility” but not a “transport”.

    However, a park or a school might be really a good shelter for biking. For example, sometimes the author will ride a bike from Roxbury Crossing to Mass Ave. Most of the time the best way is riding through Northeastern Campus, because it will be much safer and comfortable. Nevertheless, in the author’s opinion, in the Boston Common, if bike is allowable inside the common, then bike lanes should be set “outside” the common, like along Tremont Street, Park Street, Beacon Street, Charles Street, or Boylston Street. That could really make a more perfect bike lane system, since the bike lanes on the road could be connected with bike lanes “inside” the Boston Common.

The way bicyclists go

    In normal situation, bicyclists will ride in the same direction with cars. However, bikes sometimes can go opposite direction with cars, and most of the time they will ride on the sidewalk if they want to do so. Around Boston Common and Public Garden, bicycles are just riding on the sidewalk if they would go an opposite direction with cars.

    It might be possible to ride on the contraflow in the street, however, it has to be under a precondition, which is that the cars are not so many on the road, and then bikes may go on the contraflow. Otherwise, it may cause dangerous issue. However, there are lots of cars around Boston Common and Public Garden, so bicyclists may choose to ride on a sidewalk as pictures showed above if they want to make opposite direction with cars.


  • Bicycling through Boston Common is allowable, but is prohibited in Public Garden. However, it is allowable to carry bikes into Public Garden without riding. Possible reason: paths are narrow in Public Garden.

  • The frequency numbers of “through” bicycling in Boston Common is “2”. Possible reason: too many bikes through the common may cause conflicts with walking people.

  • Bicycles “do” go around Boston Common and Public Garden; however, they usually don’t follow the lanes inside Boston Common, but instead going on the street or sidewalk around Boston Common and Public Garden. That shows there is possible not a good route for bikes to follow around Boston Common and Public Garden.

  • Bicycles may go an opposite direction with cars, but they usually go on the sidewalk, not the contraflow in the street near Boston Common and Public Garden. Possible reason: sidewalk width is wide enough, and also there are too many cars going around Boston Common and Public Garden, so it may cause dangerous issue if bikes just go on contraflow in the street.
    In result, numbers of bicycles around or through Boston Common and Public Garden are not few. However, there are still some possible issues could be improved in the future. For a safer and more comfortable riding area, there might be more people stopping using their car and riding on a bike to the Boston Common and Public Garden on holidays. That will also make the environment more green and healthy. Therefore, a perfect bike lane system is hopefully to be set in the near future.

1 comment:

  1. christania’s “bike rental” bikes are rolling across the city. The system, less than a year old, is funded by christania’s municipal government. It is currently only in one of christania’s 22 administrative districts. Although a 2nd generation system, there are 12 “Houses” in this district, each with around 40 bikes. The yearly subscription cost is the equivalent of $2 US, and allows the use of a bike for up to four hours at a time. In less than a year, there have been 6,000 subscriptions sold. There are larger 3rd generation systems in the world, which do not have a subscription to bike ratio as big as that.