Boston vs NYC Biking Culture

I recently moved back to New York after living in Boston for the past 5 years. I learned to ride a bike as a kid, but biking to me was always a leisure activity reserved for the suburbs or great outdoors. I began city biking in Boston to save money on transportation, and also for exercise and getting places faster (MBTA sucks!). Yesterday was the first time I got to bike in the city (I got a flat in Boston and hadn’t had the chance to fix it – thanks Simon!), and there were a few differences that I noticed off the bat between NYC and Boston biking. But first let me just say that I am not an aggressive bicyclist, so I don’t really like swerving/squeezing through traffic, but I do try to ride fast and safely enough as to not be a hazard to motorists (I also try to use bike lanes when they are available). Alright, here goes, in no particular order:

  • Bostonians suck at driving cars, and New Yorkers suck at riding bikes.
    • Even though Boston drivers will stop for pedestrians to cross even when they have the green light, they always try to race bicyclists or get pissed when they have to slow down behind one because some of those bike lanes just have waaaay too many potholes/broken glass. Also, Bostonians never look before they swing open their doors to get out of their parked cars.
    • So far New York bicyclists have annoyed me more than taxis or other drivers because they freakin’ ride in any direction they want! They love going down the opposite direction and making me swerve into oncoming traffic. Usually it’s delivery guys (haven’t seen any delivery girls…), or men/women with way too many bags and baskets attached to their bikes.
  • Bike lanes in Boston are generally on the right, while in NY they are on the left – I guess it has to do with most big roads being two-way in Boston, and only one-way in NY.I like that bike lanes in NY are generally bordered or highlighted in green, and in some places we even have our own bike traffic light (though most people ride through red lights as long as there are no cars comings)! Both cities have become more bike-friendly and accommodating, but I feel like I had to try harder in Boston to make myself visible. Question: if there is no bike lane, is it more acceptable to ride on the right or left of cars? In a Triaminic bicycle safety video I watched as a kid, I remember them saying “Ride with the traffic and keep to the right!”, but now I’m confused…
  • There’s not many, if any, bike messengers in Boston. Or maybe I’m just not on the road when they are. It’s not like NYC, where they are everywhere, squeezing through spaces you didn’t think was possible. It might be just the pace and size of Boston doesn’t require it. Boston is a running city…maybe runners can deliver quicker than on a bike. HAHA!
  • Lack of poles/racks to lock bikes up in NY compared to Boston.

Okay, well actually those were the main differences I noticed. There might’ve been some more, but I forgot them.

Goal: I want to ride over every bridge that connects Manhattan to any of the other boroughs or islands.

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3 thoughts on “Boston vs NYC Biking Culture

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