The five best bike trails in Boston, one of the most bike-friendly cities in the U.S., new study says


If you’re in or en route to Boston and enjoy biking, you’re in luck: A new study found the Hub is the nation’s fourth-best city for cyclists.

Using factors including air quality, average annual rainfall, and bike-to-work and bicyclist-fatality rates, Berkeley, Calif.-based manufacturing technology company Arris conducted a weighted analysis to determine America’s most bike-friendly cities.

San Francisco did well in every category but average sunshine, earning an overall score of 90 out of 100, while Boston scored 68, with nearly twice the average annual rainfall and even less sunshine, for a score of 68. Houston fared the worst, with poor air quality and bicyclist safety earning it a lowly 10.

The company also surveyed more than 1,000 people to learn more about their biking habits and found that nationally, nearly one in five bike outdoors multiple times a week, and one in 10 use biking as a way to commute or get to places. In Boston, the percentage who bike to work is even greater: 13.5.

“The City of Boston is committed to building streets that work not just for cars, but for all modes of travel, including bicyclists,” a city spokesperson said in a statement. “All of our residents benefit when our communities have safe and scenic bike routes as an option. The city will continue to explore bike lane designs to improve safety and build on our partnership with Bluebikes to expand access.”

Bluebikes, Metro Boston’s bikeshare program, doesn’t provide helmets, though. So unless you have your own or are under 16, which means you’re required to wear one, ride at your own risk.

And now to those scenic bike routes … The Boston Cyclists Union recommends five in particular:

The Arborway 

From Fenway to Franklin Park, there are bike paths all along the Emerald Necklace, an 1,100-acre chain of parks linked by parkways and waterways in Boston and Brookline. All of the paths are separated from traffic, except for a gap between Jamaica Pond and Forest Hills that is one of the only missing links in a low-stress route connecting people to jobs and verdant green space.

“It’s a beautiful route,” said Eliza Parad, director of organizing for the Cyclists Union. “There are places where you can stop and have a picnic, and it goes past Jamaica Pond. It really gives you a good sense of Boston’s best parks.”

The Charles River Esplanade

A scenic route that stretches for three miles one-way along the Charles River on the Boston side, between the Museum of Science and the Boston University Bridge. For a longer ride, you can cross the Longfellow or Massachusetts Avenue bridge and explore Cambridge.

The South Bay Harbor Trail

Mostly off-road and a little hidden, this trail runs from Ruggles Station to the Fort Point Channel, not far from the Seaport, a once-desolate area now teeming with hotels and restaurants.

“If you’re looking to go to the Children’s Museum or the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art),” Parad said, “it’s also a great way to go.”

The Southwest Corridor

This area was transformed into an approximately 4 1/2-mile-long park in the 1970s after demonstrations prevented the extension of Interstate 95 here. The park runs from Forest Hills to the South End and includes playgrounds and tennis and basketball courts.

Neponset River Trail

This rail trail stretches five miles from Mattapan Square to Joseph Finnegan Park in Dorchester, which includes a playground.



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