On Wednesday, I discovered that people in East Boston can't take the Blue Line one stop (across the harbor) with a bicycle, which threw a wrench in my plans to commute by bicycle on Wednesdays. So, I wrote letters to Dan Grabauskas, General Manager of the MBTA, and Mayor Menino, bike enthusiast. Here's my letter (I mention the Trek bike specifically since Menino rides one too):
Dear Mayor Menino,
I have been a resident of Boston for six years, and have been very impressed with your dedication to making Boston a better city for bicycle commuting. I recently acquired a small Trek women's bike, and this morning set about commuting to work near Government Center. I live at (address redacted) in East Boston, and in order to get to Government Center, I have to get across the harbor. Bikes are not allowed over the Tobin Bridge or in the Sumner or Williams Tunnels. Therefore, in order to get my bike over the harbor, I went to Maverick T stop this morning to take the T one stop to Aquarium.
I left my house a little later that I usually do, because I know that the trains running to Bowdoin have fewer passengers after 8:30 am, and there would be more room for my bike (which is not that large to begin with). I paid my fare and went through the gates at Maverick, and was stopped by a T inspector, who informed me that I can't bring a bike on to the T until 10 am. I understand that he was enforcing policy, but I have never before had a restriction on my taking a bike on the T during peak hours. To his credit, the Inspector didn't let me get on, but I snuck on while he was distracted, in the last car of a six-car 8:50 train. There was penty of room on it for me and my bicycle. (In fact, there was plenty of room on the four trains that went by prior, while the Inspector was holding me on the platform.)
I don't like not following the rules, but this is a discriminatory rule. If someone who lives in Allston wants to ride a bike to downtown for work, she can just go ahead and do it. If someone in East Boston wants to, she's stuck. I can't ride my bike in the tunnels, and I can't take it over the Tobin Bridge. This is seriously unfair that I am unable to commute by bike for one T stop (Maverick to Aquarium). I would like to request permission to move my bike by T from Maverick to Aquarium on Wednesdays at 8:30 am. I am completely amenable to riding in the last car of six car train to minimize space issues, and I am willing to wait for a train carrying fewer passengers that would have room for me. My bike takes up roughly the same space as a motorized wheelchair. If I were on one of those, you couldn't deny me access to the T, even though I would be taking up a lot of space. I take up less space than two-child baby strollers, which are also allowed on the T during peak hours.
I know that you don't control the T, but is there some way that you could coordinate with them to allow East Boston residents to take bikes on the Blue Line from Maverick to Aquarium on weekday mornings? I want to use my bike more, and appreciate that on my weekends I can ride for all of my errands and trips, and would really like to add my weekday commute to that list. Maybe you could help the T make an exception for me?
I haven't heard back from Dan Grabauskas, but here's the Mayor's office reply:
Thank you for emailing Mayor Menino. This email is to confirm we received your message. Your request has been forwarded to the appropriate personnel. This is an issue that the MBTA NEEDS to address.
One City Hall Plaza
Boston, Ma 02201
It will be interesting to see if this issue could actually be raised. Considering it's an election year, here's a little issue that Menino can use to boost his image: helping East Bostonions become green commuters. AND taking on the T. That must be worth a lot of votes.