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Starts & Stops

Somerville is top biking city around

A cyclist pedaled along Beacon Street in Somerville, where construction has begin on a bicycle lane.Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Somerville is the top bike commuting city in the Northeast, according to an annual report from the League of American Bicyclists.

Somerville beat out its neighbor, Cambridge, and New Haven, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh to capture the title. The study ranked cities by calculating the percentage of commuters who ride bikes, using 2012 American Community Survey data from the US Census Bureau.

In Somerville, 7.77 percent of commuters regularly ride bikes. Right behind them, in Cambridge about 6.49 percent of commuters travel regularly by bike.

Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone said he was excited, but not surprised, by the ranking: The city has invested in bike lanes and infrastructure for years. “This is not by accident,” he said.


Hayes Morrison, Somerville’s director of transportation and infrastructure, said there’s even more on the horizon for cyclists in Somerville. Adding to the city’s 14 miles of bike lanes, 6 miles of bike paths, and 25 miles of shared roads marked for bicycle travel, the city will soon break ground on its first cycle track — a protected bike lane.

Cambridge is also gearing up to further improve biking in the city.

“Every time we redo a street, we try to make it better for walking and biking,” said Cara Seiderman, the city’s transportation program manager.

The city constructed one of the nation’s first raised cycle tracks years ago, and officials plan to build another protected bike lane on Main Street. Cambridge is also developing a bike network, which uses signs and markings to help make it easier for bikers to navigate the city.

Boston did not do as well in the rankings, coming in sixth in the region and 14th among the 70 largest cities across the United States.

T general manager talks about projects

When voters last week repealed an automatic annual gas tax increase linked to inflation, the T’s general manager, Beverly A. Scott, said she didn’t know how it would affect major projects or whether any might be delayed or pushed off the table due to a projected loss of $1 billion in revenue over the next decade.


But Scott did mention a few projects that won’t be affected: the purchase of new Red and Orange Line cars, which was approved last month by the board of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation; and the delivery of more diesel-electric hybrid buses, which started hitting the streets this past week.

In a wide-ranging interview on Wednesday, Scott said the agency also remains committed to the Green Line extension, which has been beset by delays for years.

Scott’s biggest worry? Wondering whether there are enough younger workers interested in replacing the T’s retiring baby boomers.

Scott said about 1,000 employees out of more 6,000 could soon retire, and that number could double in the next few years. What’s crucial now, she said, is reaching out to students to make the transit sector a more attractive career option.

To do that, the agency is looking into partnerships with schools such as Madison Park Technical Vocational High School.

Late-night service numbers spike

About 20,500 riders took advantage of the MBTA’s late-night service in the last week in October, marking the highest weekly ridership since the pilot started on March 28.

It’s a big jump from the summer, when riders ranged from 15,000 to 17,000 a weekend. MBTA spokeswoman Kelly Smith noted that Halloween likely helped boost the numbers, as costumed revelers relied on the T to get safely to and from events.


The late-night service runs until 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights for subway lines and the 15 busiest bus routes.

MBTA officials have been clear that there are no plans yet to make the service permanent beyond the year-long pilot.

“We are not at a point that we’re making a decision about the future yet,” Smith said. “We’ve been saying since the beginning, ‘Use it or lose it,’ and I think that any time ridership increases is a good thing. ... But we are watching it carefully and seeing how people use the system.”

Globe Correspondent Kiera Blessing contributed to this report. Nicole Dungca can be reached at Follow me on Twitter @ndungca.