Bicyclists see bump in ridership

Bike Week riders cruise through Fields Corner last May. 	Photo courtesy Dot BikeBike Week riders cruise through Fields Corner last May. Photo courtesy Dot Bike

With summer fast approaching, Dorchester cyclists and bicycle advocacy groups are greasing their chains in preparation for Boston Bike Week.

Historically, potholes, narrow roads and theft have made bicycling in Boston a dicey proposition, but Dorchester advocacy groups like Dot Bike believe recently added bike lanes and racks have convinced many Dorchester residents to get back on their pedals in recent years and have organized a week of events to celebrate their growing numbers and invite newcomers to join.

Dot Bike organizer Andy Schroeder has made a daily bike commute from Dorchester for more than six years and said he rarely shared the road with fellow cyclists during the winter months until recently, an indicator that more residents now rely on bikes for not only play, but also work.

“Over the past four years, especially this year, I’ve been meeting a lot more year-round cyclists,” Schroeder said, noting that this increase in ridership syncs up with a push from the Mayor’s Office to make Boston a more bike-friendly city.

Schroeder said that while Dot Bike is comprised of about 15 core members and keeps in contact with several hundred riders through e-mail,the city and state agencies, the MBTA in particular, have been “very receptive” to suggestions made by the group, including the installation of dedicated bicycle lanes on Talbot Avenue and Columbia Road.

While new lanes have helped increase the number of riders in Dorchester, Schroeder called the recent opening of Ashmont Cycle in Peabody Square, the only bicycle shop in Dorchester, a “watershed moment” for the neighborhood.

Ashmont Cycle owner Jack Pelletier has opened his shop to a number of this year’s Bike Week events in hopes of fostering an even larger cycling community.

“These rides are a way for people to meet other cyclists,” Pelletier said. “When these rides go out, pedestrians and drivers see everyone out and it increases awareness, it gets people thinking ‘maybe I can do that too.’”

Since opening in March, Pelletier said he has had a stream of interested customers who have not ridden in years because a flat tire repair or tune up required driving across town to the nearest shop. While Pelletier believes having a local bike shop will draw even more riders onto the streets, he believes Dorchester’s cycling community reflects a national shift in priorities.

“This is a growing interest in urban areas across the country,” Pelletier said. “A lot of people are trying to cut costs, travel faster and be healthier. There’s a big bottom up interest from people and a little help from the top down is making a big difference.”

With summer fast approaching, Dorchester cyclists and bicycle advocacy groups are greasing their chains in preparation for Boston Bike Week.

Historically, potholes, narrow roads and theft have made bicycling in Boston a dicey proposition, but Dorchester advocacy groups like Dot Bike believe recently added bike lanes and racks have convinced many Dorchester residents to get back on their pedals in recent years and have organized a week of events to celebrate their growing numbers and invite newcomers to join.

Dot Bike organizer Andy Schroeder has made a daily bike commute from Dorchester for more than six years and said he rarely shared the road with fellow cyclists during the winter months until recently, an indicator that more residents now rely on bikes for not only play, but also work.

“Over the past four years, especially this year, I’ve been meeting a lot more year-round cyclists,” Schroeder said, noting that this increase in ridership syncs up with a push from the Mayor’s Office to make Boston a more bike-friendly city.

Schroeder said that while Dot Bike is comprised of about 15 core members and keeps in contact with several hundred riders through e-mail,the city and state agencies, the MBTA in particular, have been “very receptive” to suggestions made by the group, including the installation of dedicated bicycle lanes on Talbot Avenue and Columbia Road.

While new lanes have helped increase the number of riders in Dorchester, Schroeder called the recent opening of Ashmont Cycle in Peabody Square, the only bicycle shop in Dorchester, a “watershed moment” for the neighborhood.

Ashmont Cycle owner Jack Pelletier has opened his shop to a number of this year’s Bike Week events in hopes of fostering an even larger cycling community.

“These rides are a way for people to meet other cyclists,” Pelletier said. “When these rides go out, pedestrians and drivers see everyone out and it increases awareness, it gets people thinking ‘maybe I can do that too.’”

Since opening in March, Pelletier said he has had a stream of interested customers who have not ridden in years because a flat tire repair or tune up required driving across town to the nearest shop. While Pelletier believes having a local bike shop will draw even more riders onto the streets, he believes Dorchester’s cycling community reflects a national shift in priorities.

“This is a growing interest in urban areas across the country,” Pelletier said. “A lot of people are trying to cut costs, travel faster and be healthier. There’s a big bottom up interest from people and a little help from the top down is making a big difference.”