Boston is a beautiful place to live and explore. Both the city and Boston College are brimming with natural beauty, history, and culture. But those treasures may be hard for college students to access if they don’t have a car or enough money for the T. The solution could be biking, which can help a student get to class or get out and see the city. BC’s campus and culture, however, pose significant obstacles to this solution, and navigating them holds the key to a greener and happier student body.
To outline and address the challenges of biking at BC, The Gavel spoke to Alessandro Zenati, president of Bike BC, a student organization dedicated to introducing BC students to the rewards of biking, not just at BC but also around Boston. “The biggest challenge to biking at Boston College itself is the campus,” says Alessandro.
A troublesome campus layout and lack of designated bike paths mean students often have to walk to and from class. This is certainly disappointing given the amount of stairs students navigate on a daily basis, which would be avoided nicely with the addition of bike routes.
However, biking around Boston itself is not as big a problem. “Events downtown like the Boston Bike Party, a monthly gathering of cyclists at Boston Commons, encourage citizens to embrace biking as a fun, engaging activity,” Alessandro explains.
The Bike Party often includes people dressed up in costumes and playing music—and in a city with vibrant college communities, that’s a big deal.
Bike BC connects students interested in biking with events like these, offering an eco-conscious alternative to public transportation. The leaders of the club try to “run it like a start-up,” says Alessandro, meaning they focus on efficiency when working towards their goals and try to engage as many students as possible. Monthly Safety Training meetings provide students with the basic skills to bike safely and successfully in Boston. Moving forward, the club is hoping to train more students in maintaining bikes. Hopefully students will use those skills for a potential hobby or career.
A tip for students interested in biking is to find interesting events off-campus, perhaps at other colleges. The next step would be to consider biking as a sustainable mode of transportation, instead of simply calling an Uber. These steps will become easier to attain in the future, as interest and funding from administration mean Bike BC will have 50 bikes available within the next two years. The club's goal is to add five bikes per semester.
Increased collaboration with campus organizations like BC Dining, and potentially other businesses, means Bike BC is on track to have a similar size and structure to BC EMS within a few years. For now, the club sustaining their growth thus far and maintaining its mission of gearing more students towards biking.