Category: Transportation (page 1 of 9)

How to Start Commuting by Bike

A commuter on their daily route. Image by Luca Rogoff.

Written by Elisa Sturkie

It’s been over two months since most of us have been able to safely head into work, and even longer since we could ride the T without thinking of the threat posed by COVID-19. For some, remote work is coming to an end: with Massachusetts entering into phase one of reopening on May 25th, Tufts researchers will be getting back into their labs, and some offices can resume work at a reduced capacity. Yet, with the Baker-Polito administration admitting that public transportation “unavoidably creates some risk” for COVID-19 transmission, many are still wary of taking the T.   

This is where the Office of Sustainability can help! With spring in full swing, there is no better time to maintain social distancing and start your bike commute. Somerville is ranked fifth nationally in number of biking commuters per capita, and is especially friendly to new bikers–something I know firsthand. Also, Massachusetts is the fifth most bike-friendly state in America, with Boston earning a “Silver” as a Bike Friendly Community. I started biking to work last summer for the first time, and it helped me to be healthier, more sustainable, and to explore new trails and bike paths in my community. I really couldn’t recommend it more. So, how do you get started planning your bike commute?  

1. Get a bike!  

In need of a bike? There are plenty of ways to purchase a bike sustainably in the Boston area–and many of them will also save you a little money! I got my bike used from Facebook Marketplace for a little over $50 in a move-out sale. Craigslist also has used bikes you can buy from neighbors, and until retail reopens, Cambridge Used Bicycles is conducting online bike sales with free delivery options within a five-mile radius of their store.  

Buying something used is of course more sustainable, but if you’d like a new bike, go to your local bike shop or buy from a smaller vendor online rather than from a big box store if you can. Here are the most environmentally conscious bike brands. Also, if your commute is actually pretty far and you have some money to spend, an electric bike will help you get to work fast, without all the sweat. If you’re trying to decide on a road bike, hybrid, or upright, check out this helpful webpage

Be sure to buy a helmet and bike lock! U locks are the most recommended form of lock, as they are much harder to cut through than cable locks, which prevents bike theft. 

Have a bike you need to fix up? Bike Boom in Davis Square is open for tune-ups and bike assembly, and now offers a contactless bike pickup and delivery service. Loads of other Boston-area bike shops are open now too. 

Not sure you want to commit to buying a bike? Join Blue Bikes and take out a shared bike whenever you like, without any of the upkeep! Speaking of upkeep… 

2. Take care of your bike!  

So now you’ve bought a bike. How do you keep it in good shape? It’s as simple as ABC: Air, Brakes, and Chain. Make sure you keep the right amount of air in your bike’s tires. Check the sidewall of your bike’s tires to be sure you know the correct amount of air pressure, and keep a bike pump and patch kit handy in case of a flat. Next, check your front and rear brakes to be sure they engage properly. Finally, keep your bike’s chain lubricated and clean to extend the life of your bike!  REI has some great how-to videos on the bike basics if you’d like a step by step.  

3. Plan and practice your route.  

When biking to work, never underestimate the importance of a practice run. I did and ended up sweaty and astonishingly early to work for most of my first week as a bike commuter. Be sure you know your route and what you need to commute comfortably and safely– even if that means packing a change of clothes. You’ll thank yourself later. Want some help planning your route? Trail map is here to help! You can also use Google Maps (click on the bike image), or if you work on one of Tufts’ Boston campuses, you can sign up for a Ride Amigos account here, and use their platform to plan your trip. 

4. Stay safe on the road!  

Lastly and most importantly, read up on cycling road signs and the rules of road biking. Hand signals are essential! When turning left, stick your left arm out straight; for a right turn, signal with your left arm, but bend your elbow ninety degrees (as if you are about to give someone a high five). It’s also important to be visible to cars, especially if biking at night (bike lights and reflective gear are a must!). Bikes are more vulnerable than cars and learning bike safety is the most important part of biking. Be a cautious rider, always being aware of your surroundings and stopping at red lights. Try to ride on roads with bike lanes and bike trails, or roads with bike sharrows, if there are no bike lanes near you, always ride closer to the right side of the road. Roads are safer for you than sidewalks, trust me! 

Have more questions? The Office of Sustainability has a great webpage about biking at Tufts, and a quick bike guide which might help, and we’re happy to take questions! Now that you have all the basics, hopefully you’ll be able to make the jump to a bike commute with confidence. Soon you’ll be exploring new bike paths, maintaining social distance in the fresh air, and getting to work sustainably! 

2018 Spotlight Award from MassRIDES

At the recent president’s picnic, Carlos Robles from MassRIDES presented our own Shoshana Blank with our 2018 Spotlight Award.  MassRIDES is a program of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) that works to reduce traffic condition and improve air quality in the state through partnerships with employers, colleges, and universities.

The Spotlight Award is given to companies and organizations that offer and incentivize sustainable commuting options. Tufts University was given an honorable mention for our various efforts to promote public transportation, biking, and other sustainable forms of transportation.

Many employees, staff, and students commute to Tufts Medford, Boston, SMFA and Grafton campuses on a daily basis. Sustainable transportation helps reduce traffic congestion, improves air quality, and supports strong local and regional economies.

Not only is biking and taking public transportation a more sustainable way to commute, it can also be a much more peaceful and rewarding endeavor! A driven commute during rush hours in Boston be incredibly stressful, so why not take public transportation instead? Instead of being stuck in stop-and-go traffic, you could be on a bus reading a book, or on a bike releasing some stress-relieving endorphins.

So how do we promote and facilitate public transportation here at Tufts?

Getting the word out:

All new staff hired at Tufts go through an orientation to encourage sustainable commuting. There, they are provided with information on programs like Bay State Commute and MassRIDE’s Emergency Ride Home which offer reimbursements and incentives for taking public transportation, carpooling, and biking. The Office of Sustainability also hands out commuting brochures to new students at all graduate student orientations and at a number of undergraduate orientation events.

Tufts Initiatives to Promote Sustainable Commuting:

  • This year Tufts started offering all of its employees a 35% discount on their MBTA passes .
  • Tufts Bikes, a student-run bikeshare, has 30 bicycles available for rent to encourage biking. Bikes and helmets are checked out just like library books, and can be kept for up to 8 hours.
  • We have 11 Zipcars on campus and the annual membership is discounted for students, staff, and faculty.
  • Shuttles connect the Medford/Somerville campus to the Davis Square train station, as well as to our SMFA campus in the Fenway. Live tracking of our shuttles is available on the Tufts Mobile app.
  • Students at the SMFA campus can receive Lyft credits for a Safe Ride between campus buildings.

Resources for Sustainable Commuting:

  • Our Sustainable Commuting brochures for the BostonGrafton, and SMFA campuses highlight many of the commuter benefit programs available to Tufts employees as well as information on MBTA discounts offered through Tufts, carshare and ride matching programs, and several public transportation options and routes.
  • Our Bike Guide publication and website illustrate where cyclists can lock up, get their bikes fixed at the FixIt station, and shower on campus.
  • The Tufts Eco-Map is available online, in print, as well as on the Tufts Mobile app and Google Maps. It shows features such as EV charging stations, Zipcars, Hubway bikes, Tufts Bikes bikeshare, MBTA bus stops, and Tufts shuttle stops.

 

Earth Month at Tufts 2018

Tufts has a month-long series of events planned to educate the community about sustainability issues. The month will culminate with an Earth Day celebration on the Medford/Somerville campus.

April 2nd
Tom Thumb Student Garden
Garden Club Tea Swap
8:00-9:00PM, Eaton 203

April 3rd
Tufts University Phone Bank to Defend Transgender Equality
6:00-9:00PM, LGBT Center

April 3rd
Talking 100% renewable energy w. State Reps. Connolly and Barber
7:00-8:00PM, Barnum 104

April 4th
Students for Environmental Awareness -SEA
Chasing Coral Screening and Discussion
7:00-9:00PM, Terrace Room

April 5th
Environmental Studies Program, Tufts University Lunch & Learn:
Land Cover in New Hampshire
12:00-1:00 PM, Rabb Room

April 5th
Tufts University Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
Building Resilient Communities Networking Night
5:30-7:30PM, 51 Huntington Ave, Boston

April 6th
WSSS Symposium 2018: Water in Humanitarian Emergencies
8:30AM-4:30PM, The Fletcher School

April 6th
Tufts Food System Symposium
10AM-2PM, 51 Winthrop Street

April 6th
TCA x Polykhroma Present: Visions
8:30-10:30, 46 Quincy Street Basement

April 7th
Social Impact Ideation at Tufts
11:00AM-2:00PM, Robinson Hall, Rm 246

April 9th
An Evening with D’Lo
6:00-7:30PM, Crane Room

April 10th
Students for Environmental Awareness -SEA
Startups and App Development: A Talk with Soli’s CEO
7:00-9:00PM, Crane Room

April 12th
Environmental Studies Program, Tufts University Lunch & Learn:
Somerville Immigrant Worker Health Project: Seeing Environmental Justice Through an Occupational Health Lens
12:00-1:00 PM, Rabb Room

April 13th
Demain: Reimagining Community Systems For A Better Tomorrow
2:00-6:00PM, ASEAN Auditorium

April 19th
Environmental Studies Program, Tufts University Lunch & Learn:
The Road to Food Waste is Paved with Good Intentions
12:00-1:00 PM, Rabb Room

April 26th:
Environmental Studies Program, Tufts University Lunch & Learn
Environmental Justice in the City of Chelsea
12:00-1:00PM, Rabb Room

If you are planning any Earth Month events at Tufts that were not included on this list, please contact sustainabilityoffice@tufts.edu and we will add them.

Social Media Intern, Safe Roads Alliance (Medford, MA)

Internship Description:

Safe Roads Alliance is looking for an intern to do social media for our small non-profit in road safety. The position would require a minimum of 30 minutes per day (M-F), posting relevant articles, research, and news stories about Distracted Driving, set up via Google Alerts. Since they have a national and international reach, they try to stay active on social media. Currently they have almost 13K followers on Twitter and want to be more engaged on Facebook. The internship will run from September/October to May, with the opportunity to continue into the future. Compensation: currently this would be an unpaid position.

Preferred Skills & Qualifications:

  • Studying or interested in Communications, Transportation, Public Safety, or Public Health.
Application Deadline: Until position is filled
To Apply: e-mail Emily Stein, President at emily@saferoadsalliance.org

 

New My Bus Home Service for Students

Tufts is offering a new way to get home during University break periods. Tufts has partnered with My Bus Home (www.MyBusHome.com), which provides coach bus service to various areas in the mid-Atlantic and New England regions. My Bus Home will be offering bus transportation starting this winter break (and future break periods throughout 2017).

Private, fully insured motor coaches with a restroom, DVD and Wi-Fi will pick up Tufts students on campus in the Cohen Parking Lot (east of the Granoff Music Center) and transport students to and from central locations in Darien. CT, Jericho, Long Island, West Orange, NJ and Plymouth Meeting ,PA.

The coaches can hold 50 passengers. A minimum of 30 is required. The estimated round trip fares will be between $90.00 & $140.00 depending on the stop and the number of students who ride the bus. One way seats are also available. Depending on demand, buses will depart campus on December 20th, 2016, at 4:00pm and will arrive back to campus on Wednesday, January 18th, 2017.

If you/your student is interested in this opportunity, please sign up at www.MyBusHome.com to receive more information and make trip reservations. 

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