On Saturday afternoon I was riding on Comm. Ave near the BU Bridge when something out of place caught my eye:
First, a young girl riding her own bike inbound on Comm. Ave followed by her (presumable) parent,
and moments later, a helmetless father crossing the intersection outbound with his son in a rear rack child seat:
Not one, but two separate families riding bicycles, with young children! In traffic! I found myself just as surprised by the sign as I was a few weeks ago when I blogged about a similar sighting. My immediate reaction to the thought of kids in the bike lane could be best described as “horrific excitement.” The thought of a child getting doored or hit by traffic is horrific; With all the recent press about unfortunate bicycle-related incidents around Boston, will “Child Doored on Comm. Ave” be the next big headline? Perhaps this sight was most startling to me because before my very eyes were young children riding bicycles through what I find one of the most daunting intersections to ride a bike through.
Worth noting is that in all three of my sightings these children were riding under the supervision of adults, who I presume were aware of the dangers present but like the father I spoke to felt safer because of the new bike lanes. Also worth noting is that the families I’ve seen riding with children have been coming in and out of Brookline, where bike lanes have existed long before Boston had them and where even younger bike advocates make a difference.
When I realized that my first sighting wouldn’t be the only time I’d see more children riding in traffic after all, a feeling of hope and excitement came over me; Something is definitely changing. Parents see the bike lanes as a safe-enough alternative to the Charles river bike paths and back-roads to let their children ride on the roads. I can’t help but wonder: With children now riding bikes on Comm. Ave., how will notoriously agressive Boston drivers react?
I doubt we’ll see young children riding on their own down Comm. Ave anytime soon, but this is a delightful sign of change. Perhaps Boston really has become one step closer to being as bike-friendly as our European friends over in Copenhagen, where children ride with traffic with or without a bike lane (video below was shown at 2009 Boston Bike Film Fest) Also, fast forward to 2:05 to see what I mean.