Happy National Bike Month! Established over 60 years ago, National Bike Month celebrates cyclists and encourages others to try biking.
To commemorate National Bike Month we’re highlighting Boston cyclists and cyclist organizations in our monthly blog series. Aside from reading our blog, make sure to celebrate National Bike to Work Day next Friday, May 19th at City Hall. Learn more about the festival here.
Our first community voices profile features Farah Wong, an avid cyclist and Hubway guru. Learn more about Farah and why she started biking in Boston.
What neighborhood do you live in?
Hello! My name is Farah Wong, and I live in Allston, a vibrant and diverse neighborhood with people that use many modes of transportation -- walking, skateboarding, biking, wheelchairs, buses, trains and cars. We have a lot of great restaurants, shops and stores in the area and a lot of students as we are surrounded by Harvard, Boston University and Boston College.
What’s your background, and what organization do you currently work for?
I am currently a paraprofessional at West Zone Early Learning Center in Jamaica Plain teaching K1 and also a Healthy Community Champion. As a Healthy Community Champion, I am one of 75 residents of nine different neighborhoods in Boston, working with the BPHC, the Boston Alliance for Community Health, city agencies and community organizations in a partnership called "Let's Get Healthy Boston." We promote healthier lifestyles for the communities of Boston through promoting healthier food and beverage options, active transit (walking and biking) and smoke-free housing.
What do you use your bike for?
I use my bike for commuting, mostly to and from work. I did not have a bike until about three months ago, but I have been biking for the past five years on Hubway. Biking has helped me learn to navigate the streets of Boston better, but I still get very lost at times.
Why did you start biking?
For many reasons, but what really sparked my interest in biking again was Hubway. There was an ad for 5 dollar memberships for Boston residents and I hopped on. I took advantage of the fact that there was a station near my home and work. It has saved me time, money and I start my day feeling invigorated by my bike ride.
What is your favorite part about bike commuting or biking around the city?
Biking in the city in a way makes me fall in love with the city. I get to take in some amazing views, such as of the Charles River or the Emerald Necklace area. I also get to discover something "new" along my rides that I might not necessarily think about when riding in a car.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to start biking in the city?
Just start doing it! Once you start, you will be able to see the many benefits of riding. It is a great form of exercise, extremely convenient and cost effective. There are many great resources out there (especially in the late spring/summer months), such as Learn-to-Ride clinics, bicycle repair stations, and group biking events. I hear many people saying that they are afraid of riding. It can be intimidating navigating Boston's streets and my advice is: take it one trip at a time, one pedal at a time. Start with a short trip and then as you get more comfortable add a few more pedals and then a few more and so on. Use side streets that are not as heavily congested with cars and trucks and if your route allows, incorporate the bike paths Boston has to offer, such as the Southwest Corridor or the Paul Dudley White Bike Path along the Charles.
What actions do you suggest someone take to help make biking a part of the lives of more Bostonians?
Education and infrastructure. We have a long way to go in making the streets safer not only for people who ride bicycles, but for people who walk, take public transportation and drive. As a community, we need to learn to share the roads with everyone and make sure that we are communicating with one another for the safety of all. I think cyclists and drivers need to be educated/re-educated about being safe on the roads.
In 2006, Boston was named one of the worst cities to bike and I am glad to say 11 years later that we have made many improvements, but we still have a long way to go to becoming the best city for biking. I love the protected bike path along Mass Ave (from Boylston to Huntington), the signs that validate cyclists, such as those that say "Bikes may use full lane" but as the recent tragedy of Rick Archer shows, we need more and better bike infrastructure in all of the Greater Boston area. In that vein, I think we need to have a comprehensive plan that includes all neighborhoods of Boston and the surrounding cities and towns such as Brookline, Cambridge, Milton, etc. So, I say to Bostonians, get your voice heard about making biking a healthy and safe alternative for more.