Bikes not welcome in Boston?

As an avid cyclist, I applaud Boston for encouraging more people to ride bikes. Two incidents yesterday reminded me that we have a long way to go and that being bike-friendly is about more than bike lanes and bike sharing.

First, I was at the John Hancock Tower for a meeting and locked my bike to a sign post on Clarendon Street. When I got back to my bike, I found this note:

This letter is to inform you that securing your bicycle to sign posts or trees located along our property is not permitted. The owners work very hard to make this property attractive to the Back Bay neighborhood.

There are bike racks located in the garage @ 100 Clarendon Street for your convenience.

Your attention to this matter would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you
John Hancock Tower
Property Management
Now I am all for attractive property, but I disagree that bicycles are unattractive. To the contrary, I think it is great to see lots of bicycles as part of a green and healthy community. Also, if they realistically want to keep bikes in an orderly and contained location, I'd suggest some convenient bike racks. Expecting people to bring their bikes 350 yards (according to Google Maps) to a parking garage seems unrealistic.

From the Hancock I biked to an appointment at Mass General Hospital and locked my bike to a sign post on the sidewalk of Blossom Street. None of the valet parking attendants who were nearby said anything as I locked my bike and entered the building.

When I returned, I found a cable lock padlocked onto my bike in addition to my U lock. The valet told me to call MGH Security, and 20 minutes later someone arrived to unlock my bike and tell me to use a bike rack on the other side of the building.

If Boston is going to create a bike-sharing program and bring large numbers of additional cyclists onto the streets of Boston (which would be great!), the City also has some work to do with major downtown property owners who could be more welcoming to people on two wheels.


  1. That's bad.
    The Back Bay silliness doesn't at all surprise me, but I also agree that it's an insane policy and backwards belief that bikes that are locked in front of a building are an eyesore. But you're also talking about a neighborhood that fought an accessable T stop (Copley) because it would ruin the aesthetic integrity of the surroundings.
    MGH needs a complaint from you - if there are no signs and the valet attendants don't say anything, how on earth are you supposed to know? Again though, it's a backwards policy to maintain that bikes are an eyesore and should not be visible. How long would it take to tow or boot an illegally parked car? Probably hours.
    Maybe an email to our "bike czar"?

    b.t.w. have you visited the bike page on the city website? No plans have been updated since they were created in 2002, and it's been at least a year since anything has been updated as far as projects go.

  2. I emailed Nicole Freedman (Boston's bike czarina) and am happy to report that she promptly replied and promised to install bike racks as close as possible to both locations in Spring 2010.

  3. Anonymous5:09 PM

    Were either of your parking spots on the sidewalk and/or against city-owned signs, or were they on obviously private property? Do property owners have the right to take action if the bike is on a public way like a sidewalk?

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