Aaron FinkPosted: October 25, 2013
The last time I rode a bike with my dad, Aaron Fink, it was 2008 and we were mountain biking in a wooded park near Gloucester. One wrong move sent him to the emergency room that day, and left him with a fractured tibia and at the start of what would turn out to be a long recovery. There were months of progress and setbacks, and finally a knee replacement surgery. Five years later, it is amazing to see his progress. It’s almost as if nothing had happened.
My dad grew up riding a bike all over Boston. When I started to become a regular rider, he would always tell me how he would ride his bike every day from Washington Square in Brookline, down Beacon Street and through Kenmore Square to school in the Back Bay, then back at the end of the day. There were no bike lanes, he would always remind me, and nobody wore helmets or had lights. Often he was the only biker on the road. During his recovery from his knee replacement, he took up using a stationary bicycle for exercise to keep his legs and joints limber.
When I was growing up, we’d spend Saturdays riding all over the city. Mostly we’d ride down Commonwealth Ave to the BU Bridge, then ride behind the BU campus and over to the Esplanade bike path. On a good day we’d make it as far as the Science Museum and loop around back on Memorial Drive. I think that this is when my lifelong love of bicycling began.
My dad is an artist, and two weekends ago he was having an opening at Galerie d’Avignon in Montreal. For many reasons, Montreal is considered to be one of the most bike-friendly cities in North America. It’s easy to see why. There is an extensive network of cycle tracks and bike lanes, bike share stations on almost every corner, and drivers actually seem to respect the right of cyclists to be on the road. The result is a city where bicycling is safe and easy, and people of all ages can be spotted on two wheels.
I was glad my dad accepted my offer to rent Bixi bikes and take a spin together. After five years, this was his first time on a moving bike. It was fun, but more importantly it felt safe. We rode over six miles through many different neighborhoods, and were on a cycle track or low traffic streets the entire time. I often encourage my parents to take up biking again, and they are interested but understandably concerned about their safety. This is why Boston needs physically separated bike paths that connect throughout the city. People like my parents, or anyone else interested in cycling but concerned about their safety, simply will not do it under present conditions. I look forward to a time, hopefully not too far in the future, when we have built a comprehensive enough cycling network that my parents feel safe riding their bikes around Boston, whatever the reason. Until then, I will keep encouraging them.
Ride on, dad!