New to biking? Here’s how to get started.
Choose Your Bike
First, you need a bike. Don’t have one? Try Blue Bikes, Greater Boston’s bike share program. They offer affordable per-ride, monthly and annual options.
If you have your own bike, make sure it fits. It should feel comfortable to ride (remember: biking is fun.) If you’re looking for a new bike, take a few minutes to read Bicycling Magazine’s complete guide to buying a bike that fits you and your needs.
Massachusetts law only requires helmets for riders under 16 years old, though we encourage helmet usage for all people who bike.
You should also use a white front light and red rear light or reflector when riding at night. That’s not a recommendation: That’s the statewide law for everyone on bikes.
Depending on how far from home your ride will take you, consider bringing a pump, tools and replacement tube or patch kit in case you get a flat. (See below for more on repairs.)
Learn to Ride
The City of Boston has a great guide for getting started on a bike. For further reading, the League of American Bicyclists has a whole library of guides, covering everything from basic preparedness (like how to properly wear a helmet) to biking etiquette. Would you prefer video tutorials? The League has those for you, too. And if you need a more hands-on approach, the organization can even help you find a training class or instructor near you.
Know the law
You have certain rights and responsibilities when riding a bike in Massachusetts. Our partners at Mass Bike have a complete guide to statewide bike law here.
Cities may have additional laws relating to bikes. For more info, use the links below.
Learn Basic Bike Repair
Bike shops are wonderful resources. Still, there is a lot to benefit from knowing basic repairs like changing a flat.
The Bike League has you covered with all kinds of tutorials. Prefer a hands-on approach? Some bike shops (like Bikes not Bombs) teach repair classes. There’s also Femmechanics, which povides open-shop hours, called Grrrease Time, for people who identify as FTW (femme/trans*/women/non-binary.) You can also check out one of the local volunteer-run bike kitchens or co-ops:
- Somerville Bike Kitchen (Davis Square)
- CommonWheels Bike Co-Op (Lower Allston)
- Dorchester Bike Kitchen (Fields Corner)
Plan a route
When you feel comfortable pedaling around a parking lot or on a quiet street, you’re ready to head out into the city. Before you go, plan a route on low-stress streets and bike paths. The Charles River, Southwest Corridor and MInuteman Bikeway are all great places to get more acclimated. Some map apps (like Google Maps) can display designated bike routes, but trust your judgment if part of the route your phone suggests looks suspicious.
- Map: Metro Boston biking and walking paths
- 11 Beginner Bike Rides in Boston (Guide from Curbed Boston)
- Boston Bikes: Guide to planning a route
What to do in a Crash
We have a full FAQ on the do’s and don’ts in the unfortunate event you experience a bike crash.
Get Involved to Make Biking Better
A widespread network of protected bike lanes is critical for helping more people choose to bike, and for allowing everyone on a bike to safely get where they’re going. If you want to help grow Boston’s bike network, then support the Boston Cyclists Union and our work to make Boston a better place to bike
There are many ways to get involved:
- Become a member
- Sign up for our newsletter
- Join a volunteer group or committee
- Join a BCU neighborhood chapter or local bike group
- Donate to support our work
Activist committeeLocal BCU chapters & partner orgs