National Bike Month is coming to an end this week, but before it ends we have one more Boston cyclist to highlight! This week meet James Belmore, a City of Boston employee who is an avid bike commuter from South Boston.
What neighborhood do you live in?
I have been living in South Boston for about 10 years now. I was born in Providence, RI and grew up in Maryland. I lived in D.C. for about 18 years or so before moving up here, and I have always considered myself to be a Washingtonian. I am very happy to be living in South Boston now. The people Iʼve met in the neighborhood over the years have been very welcoming and will always have a place in my heart.
What is your background, or what city department do you work in?
Currently I work for the Office of the Parking Clerk at City Hall. I have a BA in Mass Media and an MA in Urban Affairs. Before working for the BTD I held various jobs, such as driver for a nonprofit, stained glass restoration, Zamboni driver, and bike courier.
What do you use the bike for?
I use my bike for commuting to work, getting to the pool, running errands and for some degree of exercise and overall happiness. I bike year-round no matter what the weather or climate serves up, and I look forward to starting every day in this fashion.
Why did you start biking?
I started biking in my early twenties in D.C. as a commuter. Then I became a courier, which I did for many years both there and here in Boston. I cannot imagine getting around any other way. I carry a Charlie Card and a Hubway key for emergency purposes.
What is your favorite part about bike commuting or biking around the city?
I would have to say efficiency and convenience. I am on my own bike and on my own schedule. I go where I want, whenever I want, and never have to be worried about being late or finding parking. I can change a flat in under five minutes, or true a wheel, or adjust a brake, all on site if necessary. I carry a mini bike shop in my bag. I think about my bike just as a motorist may think about their car, it is how I move around, itʼs automatic.
What would you say to encourage other people to explore commuting to work on bicycle?
Get a Hubway membership. This is a good way to try biking on for size for a small investment. The bikes are big and slow, and you will feel pretty safe on one no matter what your level of riding. If you take a bus, or the T each day, you can probably incorporate a Hubway ride into your daily routine. It will shorten your commute time and you will get a little exercise. Be aware of your surroundings, and donʼt be afraid – you got this. Just know that exercise produces endorphins which are known to make people cheerful. Biking is a great way to start and end each day.
What actions would you suggest someone take to help make biking a part of the lives of more Bostonians?
1.) Teach others how to properly lock up their bicycles, if you have a good system. I bet a lot of people purchase bikes, then get a wheel or seat stolen, and give up on the idea altogether. Ask a bike shop mechanic how to if youʼre unsure.
2.) Empathy, kindness and respect. Whether you are driving a car, walking or cycling, be aware of your surroundings and share the streets respectfully. When you bike or walk, you are one less car. When you drive, be thankful that the cyclists and pedestrians are decreasing traffic congestion.
3.) Be responsible for your own safety. By doing this you will create a sense of self awareness and confidence that can inspire others.