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Boston is getting 9.4 miles of new bike lanes, 100 new Blue Bike stations, says Mayor Wu

“We are committed to building a Boston for everyone. Today we take a couple steps closer to delivering on that vision."

Rider Nicole Sandor picks up a bicycle at the Blue Bikes sharing station on Dartmouth Street near the Copley T station on August 12, 2022. Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff
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Good news for Boston residents who prefer two wheels to four: By next year, the city will be adding 9.4 miles of bike lanes on a dozen streets in Boston, and within the next three years, more than 100 new Blue Bike stations, according to Mayor Michelle Wu. 

Wu announced improvements to Boston’s bike network at a press conference at the Tobin Community Center in Roxbury Tuesday morning. 

Wu said the city has set a goal to ensure 50% of all residents in Boston will be a 3-minute walk away from a safe, connected bike route within the next three years. In that same time frame, the city is committing to reach 600 women and gender-diverse adults through learn-to-bike workshops, and is starting a $1.5 million rebate program for older adults and people with disabilities to be able to purchase e-bikes, electric bikes that assist with pedaling.

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“We are committed to building a Boston for everyone,” Wu said. “Today we take a couple steps closer to delivering on that vision with investments that will reduce emissions, relieve congestion, improve the quality of our residents’ lives, and make sure that people’s lives are protected.”

Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge said that bikes are a significant part of the transit system in Boston, especially with e-bikes on the rise.

“They’re opening the door to biking for many people who could not bike before,” Franklin-Hodge said. 

He said the city is launching a planning process to figure out the next set of connections to build after these, noting that 50% of the respondents of a MassINC poll from last year said that if they had a safe bike lane in their neighborhood they would be more likely to ride. 

“This is about us building that possibility for people,” Franklin-Hodge said. 

Franklin-Hodge emphasized how important this is for battling climate change, both on a global and local scale. 

“Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country, and we know that we need to reduce the amount of carbon we pump into the atmosphere through the ways that we get around,” Franklin-Hodge said.

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Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Spaces Rev. Mariama White-Hammond echoed Franklin-Hodge’s sentiments.

Speaking from the climate perspective, White-Hammond said that this is “a key and important thing that we need to address.”

She also acknowledged the risks that come with biking, and emphasized how important these changes are to make sure people are comfortable biking in Boston. 

“Everybody should have the right to get around our city in a safe way and not to feel like they’re taking their lives in their hands,” White-Hammond said.

Chief of Planning Arthur Jemison turned the conversation to the renewed focus this brings to neighborhood planning.

“We’re going to be implementing this bike infrastructure in the context of renewed community participation and work on planning,” Jemison said, noting that housing, small businesses, and safe streets are key parts of the planning.

Shavel’le Olivier, the executive director of Mattapan Food & Fitness Coalition (MFFC), introduced Winnie of the Vigorous Youth Program at MFFC, who led one of the bike routes at Mattapan on Wheels this summer. 

Mattapan has the highest rates of hypertension, obesity, and diabetes, and MFFC aims to improve those statistics, especially through youth involvement.

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“I got to see how excited and enthusiastic the community of Mattapan and the surrounding neighborhoods were about biking,” Winnie said. “I think it’s definitely important to not leave behind the communities of color in planning for the future of biking in Boston.” 

Elijah Evans, executive director of Bikes Not Bombs, quoted U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley who said bicycling is at the intersection of many forms of justice: environmental justice, economic justice, and racial justice.

“I believe everyone deserves the freedom to choose biking as a safe mode of travel, but we’ve got to admit that is just not the reality in Black and brown communities,” Evans said. “Biking is especially not an option for anyone if our streets are unsafe or you don’t have the skills, the confidence, and the resources to sustain it.” 

One of Bikes Not Bombs’ youth apprentices, named Antonio, shared that he’s gotten into two accidents biking down Malcolm X Boulevard, and advocated for expanding the lane and more awareness from car drivers for bikers in Boston.

“Bike infrastructure is absolutely necessary, especially in neighborhoods of color,” said Tiffany Cogell, an organizer with Ride for Black Lives. “Riding is freedom, and we deserve that.”

Boston’s Bike Mayor Vivian Ortiz said she got into biking after attending one of Boston’s free women’s learn-to-ride clinics and became an instructor who teaches people how to teach people how to ride on the street.

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“Adding this infrastructure is going to make it better,” Ortiz said, referencing the danger and difficulties of biking on Boston’s busy streets.

City Councilor Kenzie Bok noted that since Boston is an old city, much of it is actually better designed for walking and biking than it is for driving, and advocated her support in “prioritizing bringing pedestrian and bicycle safety hand in hand.” 

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