Bay State Bike Week asks you to give bik­ing a chance

Bay State Bike Week be­gan Satur­day, and a part of it is the MassCom­mute Bi­cy­cle Chal­lenge, which wants you to swap out your reg­u­lar work com­mute for one by bike.

Metro USA (Boston) - - NEWS - KRISTIN TOUS­SAINT kristin.tous­saint@metro.us

Tom Fran­cis en­joys his com­mute to work so much that when he was out of town for a week this Fe­bru­ary, he took the time to fol­low his com­mute on the week­end when he came back to the Bos­ton area.

“How many driv­ers would do that?” Fran­cis said.

Not many, and maybe, not even any, since Fran­cis isn’t a driver him­self. He bikes to work, from his home in Need­ham to the Mas­sachusetts Bi­cy­cle Coali­tion (MassBike) of­fice in Down­town Bos­ton, where he is cur­rently the non­profit’s in­terim di­rec­tor.

MassBike en­cour­ages peo­ple to give bik­ing a try “for fun, fitness and trans­porta­tion” and each year presents, along with the Mas­sachusetts Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion, Bay State Bike Week, a week­long cel­e­bra­tion of cy­clists around the state.

Bay State Bike Week 2018 be­gan on Satur­day and goes un­til May 20, and one of the events MassBike is point­ing peo­ple to is the MassCom­mute Bi­cy­cle Chal­lenge, which asks Bay Staters to give bik­ing to work a try.

“Rather than the cy­clists who wear Span­dex and are all in on bikes, we’re try­ing to get to the peo­ple who are just real peo­ple,” said Jim Gas­coigne, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Charles River Trans­porta­tion Man­age­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, one of the groups that make up MassCom­mute.

“They’re not com­mit­ted to bi­cy­cles, they just want trans­porta­tion from point A to point B,” he con­tin­ued, “and we know that cy­cling is re­ally great for one to 10 miles, it’s a re­ally quick, con­ve­nient way to get around in the con­ges­tion con­di­tions here in Greater Bos­ton.”

Gas­coigne isn’t try­ing to con­vert any­one into a su­per-se­ri­ous cy­clist (though his wife did re­cently be­come a pas­sion­ate bike com­muter, and he ad­mits he’s proud of that ac­com­plish­ment). In­stead, he said, it’s about re­con­nect­ing peo­ple to the fun they had bik­ing rid­ing when they were younger and hav­ing peo­ple try bik­ing a few times in a row to see if it’s some­thing they want to start up again.

“The idea is to try to en­cour­age peo­ple to fig­ure out how to give it a go for more than one day so they can see if it works for them, oc­ca­sion­ally or reg­u­larly as a com­muter,” he said.

There’s also a cal­cu­la­tor on the MassCom­mute site to show you how much money you’ve saved and CO2 you’ve pre­vented by de­cid­ing to bike rather than drive. But Gas­coigne knows those are sec­ondary fac­tors for peo­ple, and re­ally, it’s all about con­ve­nience.

This is the 24th year of the MassCom­mute Bi­cy­cle Chal­lenge, and Gas­coigne has seen a lot changes when it comes to bik­ing around Bos­ton and be­yond. Be­fore 2008, Bos­ton didn’t even have bike lanes, Fran­cis noted, and though there could al­ways be more, things are cer­tainly bet­ter for bik­ers now.

Still, he knows some peo­ple may be ner­vous to bike around the city. But the ethos of Bay State Bike Week, he said, is just about giv­ing it a chance.

“I re­mem­ber when I first started rid­ing again and how scary it was, about 20 years ago. I rec­og­nize, yeah it can be a lit­tle scary,” he said. “But it can also be a lot of fun and very en­joy­able, and you won’t know un­til you try.”

“… it’s a re­ally quick, con­ve­nient way to get around in the con­ges­tion con­di­tions here in Greater Bos­ton.” Jim Gas­coigne

A cy­clist bikes Comm Ave. NI­CO­LAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

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