(Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff)
By Michael Levenson, Globe Staff
The cavalcade of colorfully attired cyclists today delivered a pointed message to any politician who might ridicule their demands for more bike lanes and bike racks: We're voters, too.
Lola Heiler, 65,and her dog, Jake, joined the ride from City Hall to Christopher Columbus Park. (Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff)
“If you call us wacky, you will be defeated, because none of us are going away!” declared Richard Fries of the Bikes Belong Foundation, to cheers and ringing bells from the 50 cyclists who kicked off Bay State Bike Week in Christopher Columbus Park in the North End.
The cyclists said they were hoping that bikers across the state would collectively log 250,000 miles this week to show the state’s political establishment that they are serious about their demands for more dedicated lanes, racks, and other improvements for cyclists.
Boston is "this close to becoming America's Amsterdam," Fries said, referencing the famously bike-friendly city. So many cyclists were crossing the Longfellow Bridge from Cambridge into Boston this morning, "it looked like Beijing," he said.
Since Boston undertook an initiative to become more bike-friendly two years ago, the city has installed 250 bike racks, built several miles of bike lanes, and provided a grant to open a bike rental shop in the North End, Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. This week, Boston will print 40,000 free bike maps, he said.
Next spring, Boston plans to launch a bike-sharing program, similar to one in Paris that has drawn international attention but also been beset by thefts. Boston, which was once a mainstay on Bicycling Magazine's annual list of the worst American cities for bicycling, “is beginning to make progress,” Menino said.
“The future of Boston biking will be even better,” he said.
Menino, who last year donned a blue track suit and rode with the group from City Hall, did not ride today. Dressed in a business suit, he said he is recovering from knee surgery several months ago, which has kept him off his bike and away from his morning rides around Hyde Park. He said he was hoping to ease back into biking this week.
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