Bicycling in Boston, Massachusetts
It's easy and pleasant to ride from the center of Boston along the Esplanade and the Charles River all the way to Harvard Square in Cambridge (map)—and even to Lexington and Concord via the Minuteman Bikeway.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of biking in Boston and Cambridge is the ease and cheapness of parking: any bike rack, street sign or lamp post will do, and it's free.
Bring a strong lock or heavy chain to prevent theft, especially if you have a fancy bike.
Greater Boston's short-trip public bike-sharing system, called BLUEbikes (formerly Hubway), has over 400 bike stations around the city and in the neighboring cities of Arlington, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Newton, Revere, Salem, Somerville, and Watertown, with 4000+ bikes available from mid-March to Thanksgiving (late November).
Riding a BLUEbike can be faster and cheaper than a subway, bus or car ride—and you see more of Boston.
BLUEbikes' goal is to offer you public transport that you power and that releases no greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Going by bike is faster than walking, faster than mass transit for short trips, and in some ways as convenient as a taxi or car.
There is a downside, of course. You must learn the system, bring your own bike helmet, endure the risks of riding a bicycle in a big city, perhaps get wet if it rains.
A single ride costs $2.95, a 24-hour pass good for two rides of up to 2 hours costs $10. Monthly and annual passes are also available.
Note: this is NOT rental of a bike for 24 hours. Your pass entitles you to pick up a bike, ride it for up to two hours, return it to a bike station, and later do the same thing again within 20 hours. For example, you might take an afternoon ride in Boston on Tuesday, and another in Cambridge on Wednesday morning, returning the bike to a station after each ride.
Download the BLUEbikes app. At a bike stand you'll receive an unlocking code, input the code on a bike stand, take your bike, and you're on your way.
Bike Path Maps
Here's the map of bike and shared-use paths in Greater Boston, by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council; and here are all the bike trail maps for Massachusetts state parks offered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts's Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).
Cambridge is part of Greater Boston's BLUEbikes Bike-Sharing System, so you can ride a BLUEbike between Boston Common to Harvard Square in Cambridge (3 to 4.5 miles/7 to 7 km) in 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your route.
Bikes on MBTA Trains, Buses & Ferries
You and your bike can travel on MBTA subways, trains, buses and ferries at no additional charge, subject to times and rules. You can even take a Commuter Rail train from Boston to many other bikable communities: Cambridge, Concord, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Salem, Gloucester, Rockport, etc.
Bikes are permitted on many Commuter Rail trains during off-peak hours (10 am to 2 pm and after 7:30 pm) on weekdays, and all day Saturday and Sunday. You need no special permit or reservation, and you pay no extra fare, to bring your bike aboard. Load it in the car nearest the locomotive. More...
Guided Bike Tours of Boston
Urban Adventours rents bikes and conducts guided bicycle tours of Boston from its office at 103/109 Atlantic Avenue near the corner of Richmond Street, right across from Christopher Columbus Park, in the North End (map).
Over a thousand Boston-area cyclists have banded together in the Boston Cyclists' Union to work for better conditions for bikers: biker and driver education, safer bike paths, better parking facilities for bikes, etc. The Union sponsors special events, too. More...
From Bedford, the stabilized, unpaved Reformatory Extension of the bikeway follows a disused railroad right-of-way through forest all the way to Concord. The Bedford-to-Concord extension route is marked as part of the Bay Circuit Trail (map) and passes Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. More...