Time for Hubway to start warning customers to keep off the local highways

Around 7:30, Dan Berlin reported an unusual sight on the turnpike westbound:

Anyone else in Boston see the four people happily riding their Hubway bikes ON THE MASS PIKE?! Yikes.

In e-mail, he explains they look like they got on at Mass. Ave. They were riding in the breakdown lane, at least, he says:

Extra big breakdown these days, thanks to construction. But definitely no breakdown as they approach Cambridge. No helmets either



Free tagging: 


They are called and signed

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They are called and signed "limited access" highways for a reason. Every one of them has the little no pedestrians, bikes, and horses warning at on-ramps.

It takes a sign

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It takes a sign to know that riding a bike on a road where cars are doing 70MPH is a bad idea?

(But the no bike sign is on the left under the No HM sign.

Actually that's not what

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Actually that's not what limited access means. It means that access is limited to a few specific points, i.e. onramps, as opposed to anyone being able to throw in a driveway to an adjacent property.

Some states (but not MA) DO allow bikes on limited access highways, e.g. California.

There's still no excuse to be biking on the MassPike though. They should not have been there and I'm amazed they survived it.

Allowing cyclists to use certain

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sections of controlled access highways is a common practice in several Western states. The reason for this is to facilitate bike travel in areas where no through conventional roads parallel the freeway.

Bike lanes

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The white lines of bike lanes make me feel safe even without a helmet.

although my road test was long ago

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I seem to remember that it's illegal to ride bicycles, horses or farm equipment on highways....

I propose Darwin Awards all around!

Highways are okay

I ride my bike on highways all the time - Route 38, Route 2A, Route 3 through Arlington and Winchester, etc.

Limited access highways, aka "freeways" or "expressways" are off limits.

My favorite term for such folks


And, no, cyclists don't have a right to Interstate freeways in MA for the same reason cars don't get to drive down the Minuteman Bike Path or over the North Point Bridge. So, yes, stupid comment is stupid.

Bicycle version of Storrowing?

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When they were pulled over, they'd probably claim that they didn't see the "no bicycles" sign at the entrance ramp, that it was too late to turn around when they did see it, believed that the sign didn't apply to them, etc.

Speaking of Storrow...

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Saw a guy cycling eastbound Storrow from Charlesgate a week ago. No breakdown lane whatsoever, just a couple of pull-offs every once in a while.

He didn't have a Hubway.

I'd take the pike if I had a choice.


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Storrow Drive is a "recreational parkway." At least that's the BS line the NIMBYs use everytime somebody proposes doing something to actually make the road useable by people.

The zipcar of bikes

Almost every person I've seen riding a hubway seems like they've never ridden a bike before. Zipping into busy intersections without looking, riding on sidewalks, one guy even hit me while I was standing on the curb. Real menace to society.

I see your anecdote and combat it with my own

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I actually only know one Hubway user who doesn't own a bike. Most of us use it to do things like one-way trips or as backup transportation.

Same with Zipcar; I know two people who have it who don't own a car. Most people seem to use it when they need the car at the same time as another family member or when they need a pickup truck or SUV for work or projects or something.

Could it be just that most cyclists and drivers are kind of idiots, and these just are the ones you're noticing and categorizing since they have a label slapped on their vehicle?

I agree with the original

I agree with the original poster. Hubway cyclists seem to mostly not know the rules, will most often not wear helmets, will coast or hard brake without signaling to slow down, will ride on sidewalks, take up all of muni paths and not allow others to safely pass, etc. They are a good thing to have but casuals are a MENACE. Hubway should require a test to pass before renting.

Zipcar analogy doesn't work because you still need to be licensed. Ignorance isn't an excuse.

Over millions of rides ...

And a couple incidents of stupid make you say this?

Walk Congress Street from City Hall to the Innundation District sometime at rush hour and count the stupid from all modes - drivers in the bike lane, jay walking, box blocking, drivers and cyclists running lights, sidewalk parking, wrong-way cyclists, etc.

The problem isn't Hubway or cyclists. The problem is that Massachusetts requires very little knowledge and not much more skill when handing out driving licenses (which most cyclists and pedestrians do have). Then there is no enforcement of basic safety rules to the point that many walkers, cyclists, and motorists (and many cops!) have no clue what they are. This leads to a daily mode-independent cavalcade of spectacular road stupidity.

As I said before to your

As I said before to your "millions of rides" reply to my complaints about Hubway riders, I don't need a statistical document to back up WHAT I ACTUALLY SEE HAPPENING day to day. Does no one trust their own eyes anymore without an academic study or news story to corroborate?

If I wrote a peer reviewed study on the idiot hubwayist who turned off the Charles River Greenway and almost landed into me this morning would you believe it?

You visit doctors or faith healers when you are sick?

We all "see things with our own eyes". I once noticed that every time I rescheduled a soccer game with the neighboring town, we got deluged with rain. Which of course means that God was angry with us because I saw that with my own eyes, right?

"Seeing things with our own eyes" doesn't necessarily mean that the things we see or infer are important in the grand scheme of things. Individual human observation is not the same as systematic collection and analysis of information.


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The complete lack of enforcement for all modes is the biggest issue.

This is not some great unsolvable problem. Virtually every other American city has figured out how to do this. Seriously, go anywhere else and let me know if you see as much blatant crossing against the light by pedestrians or vehicles entering the intersection a full 3 or 4 seconds after the light has turned.

I'd say the problem isn't

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I'd say the problem isn't driving tests. It's terribly designed roads.

I went for a walk along the Greenway last weekend. I couldn't believe the endless don't-walk lights, even when the side street I'd be crossing had a red light. And then the walk+flashing hand lasted an entire 8 seconds, so by the time I noticed it and started crossing, I couldn't make it across before the light changed. I walk fast -- I have no idea how someone who walks slowly could manage.

The poorly synchronized lights for cars encouraged drivers to block the intersection, because otherwise no more than 3 or 4 cars could get through on each (really long) cycle.

I think a serious lack of

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I think a serious lack of enforcement combined with really shitty road design is a major source of problems in Boston. Yeah, it's old and historic but there's gotta be a better way to deal with our roads. Bike lanes that randomly end without warning and are poorly placed, asshole drivers double parked in the bike lanes and bus stops with no consequences, crosswalk lights that don't work or take forever to go on and only last long enough if you're sprinting, and a total lack of enforcement of stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks. And I drive in Boston! I think it would be so much safer for EVERYONE if the city started enforcing this shit. I've had people drive around me and almost hit and kill people because I stopped for someone in the crosswalk and the dingus behind me couldn't wait 6 more seconds and decided to drive around me.

Did you say safety?

Some statistics from every bike share in the US:


Given that few bike share users wear helmets (one survey in Boston and Washington found that 19.2 percent wore them, compared with 51.4 percent of other bikers) and so many of them are relative novices, you'd think that suddenly putting thousands of them on the street would be extremely dangerous. So why hasn't anyone died — and how have injuries actually gone down?

One factor is the bikes themselves. They're extremely heavy, with wide tires, making it difficult for riders to get going very fast. Generally, they're also outfitted with lights (improving visibility at night) and drum brakes (which work better when wet). A slow, visible, stable bike means a safer cyclist.


Another factor is that, on the whole, data indicates that helmets are probably less important for adult bike safety than many people imagine. Countries that have enacted mandatory helmet laws for adults, like Australia, haven't seen substantial declines in death or injury rates from biking.

And frequently

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those that do have it fail to pack it when they go on vacation.

maybe they were Canadian?

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Last time I crossed the border into Canada from Maine I was shocked by how many people were riding their bikes and jogging on the side of the highway. Apparently it's legal in Canada. Personally, I wouldn't cycle or walk on the same road as cars driving 105kph regardless of legality.

I do have a friend who did

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I do have a friend who did this on her personal bike once, and it was because she was using a gps on her phone with earphones, and said gps was set for driving directions. She got on down near Copley going west, and so had a ways to go before she could get off. A pretty frightening experience, and one which prompted her to repent in dust and ashes (to the rattled friends and spouse she called whilst taking her freeway ride) of ever using gps for bike navigation again.

That is a good question - it

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That is a good question - it was a year or two ago, I will have to ask her though. I don't remember the specific details, just that she did it. She also lives here in Boston and works in biotech. She made a mistake, one that could have been avoided, and she knew this.

And yes, it was a combination of not checking the route she was using and an incorrect input on the GPS. I just think that some of the monday-morning quarterback comments here about stupidity, 'tourists', etc. are a little high-handed. How does the person who saw these folks know that they were "happily" riding down 90? Maybe they were scared out of their wits.

People make mistakes, and it can sometimes cost them dearly, which I am assuming it did not in this case. The people might have been from out of town, but they also might live in Somerville; they might have been using GPS, but they also might have taken a wrong turn while trying to navigate a busy street, and by the time they realized they were on their way onto a freeway, were trying to decide whether trying to turn around on a probably busy entrance ramp and go against traffic was a good idea.

The possibilities for how this might have occurred are manifold, so give the folks a break, and good thing for wide shoulders on this stretch.

Most of this stretch of the

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Most of this stretch of the Pike has *no* shoulders. Except maybe there's a temporary one because of construction.

If a freeway has a shoulder, riding a bike on it really isn't that bad as long as you don't cross any ramps (i.e. you take the next exit). But it's still illegal.

Not full shoulders

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The MassPike east of Allston-Brighton does not have continuous shoulders.

corrected to reflect other posters' comments

Point taken

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But I think you'd agree that "intermittent" is the key word here. Which would only exacerbate the hazard to others when Bob Bicyclist and his friends come to a section where "oops, there's no shoulder anymore."

GPS isn't the problem

Not checking the route before starting out is the problem.

I'm amazed at how many people omit this basic double-check. A quick scan through also verifies that you aren't being sent to the wrong Washington St., etc.

yeah I don't get this either

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I drive.. not often.. but I do. And I own a GPS (for all those car rides I never take)

but even I do that.. I find GPS directions to always be a little off so I always look at the route before i even start the car.

I'm also the same person who's GPS is always saying "Recalculating.." because I've taken a better way.

The few times I've let

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The few times I've let friends use their GPS, instead of letting me navigate, I tried to review the route before we started. But the UI made it very hard to do anything except blindly obey one instruction at a time.

It's all about the settings

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We were using the GPS to drive somewhere once, and it had us take a sharp left at the VFW/West Roxbury Parkway rotary. It ends up that the last use was as a walker. So, you could only hope the cyclists remembered that they were in a car the last time they needed directions.

My GPS gives a dialogue box

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that indicates "Do you want to use toll roads?" when the shortest route involves turnpikes or toll bridges/tunnels. The only problem with this feature is that the YES and NO buttons are in the reverse positions from every other software dialogue box I've ever encountered in the last twenty or so years.

This resulted in a trip back from Albany about four years ago being far longer than I'd expected. Was in an unfamilar part of town looking for the best route back to I-90, so I hit the 'home' button on my GPS. Because I inadvertently hit "NO" in response to the 'toll roads?" question, I ended up on NY 2, which becomes MA Route 2. With weather and traffic (including the inevitable 'got stuck behind a semi on a narrow two lane road with bilnd corners for ten miles'), what should have been a three hour ride ended up taking me almost four and a half hours.

And the fact that the I-787 exit markers gave no indication that I-787 connects with I-90 (they still don't to this day) didn't exactly help matters either.

My friend also accidentally

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My friend also accidentally rode on the Pike (she's originally from Portland, OR and not too familiar with roads out here) when she got lost while doing an errand in Newton. She panicked and kept going and somehow made it to the Allston/Brighton tolls.

I got a little confused around that exit onramp (16?) while driving.

So, a person sees four cyclists

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on the MassPike east of the Allston Brighton tolls, which is a section of the road that has NO shoulders for a good portion of its length. Given the obvious hazard these people are posing to both themselves and other drivers, you'd think said person would call 911 so the Staties could safely escort Bob Bicylist and his friends off the highway.

But no, he decides to send a 'tweet' to the outside world instead. Way to go there, not!

Our brave new world

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I mean, how many times have we seen something like this.

To be fair, we (and yes, I include me) don't know the guy didn't call the staties in addition, but I am jaded enough to believe that it ended in the internet.