Going By Bike In Worcester

Jerald Nichols, MassBike's Worcester Instructor

I’ve been reading lately about all the great bike things going on around the state, and I didn’t want to leave our second biggest city totally out of the conversation. I’m a MassBike instructor based out of Worcester, and I thought it would be nice to write a little bit about biking here in Central Massachusetts.

In many ways, Worcester has a lot going for it. Two major infrastructure projects – Newton Square and Lincoln Street – have been finished, making cycling in those parts of the city much better now. The Blackstone River Bikeway, which will eventually go from Worcester to Providence, is moving right along. And local bike advocates organized six events here for Bay State Bike Week last year.

However, let’s be honest – there are also some obstacles to biking in Worcester. For one thing, the hills around here are daunting. For me, the only way to consistently go by bike is to just get out there and tackle them. The other major barrier I see is that there are zero bike lanes, except for the ½ mile one next to Lake Park. The hills we can’t do very much about, but we can certainly push for more bike lanes and other infrastructure! Seeing what Boston has done for biking, and in such a short period of time, tells me that it can be done in Worcester. If more bikers get out there, the city will notice.

As is, I’m getting a reputation at work because I’m the only one (of 200 employees) who commutes by bike. But that doesn’t bother me, because I had my physical this week. My blood pressure is normal (I had hypertension); I lost eight pounds and 3½ inches from my waist since September; and I’m saving at least $133/month in gas alone to boot! I really believe I have my relationship with MassBike to thank. The skills class and commuter workshop material gave me a lot more confidence on the road and some solid tips that required only minimal changes in my routine.

I’m looking forward to getting more people out there on the streets of Worcester and working with other advocates to push the city on bike infrastructure. If there were better infrastructure and more bike education, then maybe everyone would have a better check-up!

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4 Responses to Going By Bike In Worcester

  1. Rachel November 4, 2011 at 7:09 am #

    As someone who bikes from Union Station in Worcester (after taking the train from Boston) to UMass Med School each day for work, I agree that it is very possible to bike in Worcester– you just have to start doing it! The layout of the roads is usually not very favorable to bicycles, and many improvements could be made (bike lanes, etc.) but I have found drivers to be generally considerate, even though they are not as accustomed to bicycles as the cars in Boston are. I am also encouraged that a few days ago I saw about 6 other cyclists during my morning commute!

  2. John M November 8, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    Great post, thank you! I also commute into union station and walk from there. I’ve been considering trying my bike out once I get used to the streets.

  3. Alex W. December 26, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    Thank you very much for the very interesting and timely post! It turns out there is an undergraduate student project currently underway at WPI that is looking into the feasibility of implementing a network of bike paths/lanes in Worcester. The project website is located at: http://www.worcbike.org/.


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