Tired of sitting in downtown Boston’s taxing bumper-to-bumper traffic? A new program rolling out this week is encouraging commuters to ditch their cars on the way to work, then bike the rest of the way.
On Friday, the Department of Conservation and Recreation and Montague Bikes, of Cambridge, will launch the Park & Pedal initiative. The program, which officials believe is the first of its kind in the country, will open “hubs” at existing state-owned free parking lots.
Park & Pedal aims to ease traffic congestion into the city each morning as commuters clamber to make it to their jobs on time.
It’s also meant to inspire more people to get out and exercise.
“Those contributing to, and sitting in, traffic, it will get them to get out of the car and onto their bikes for the last few miles,” said Park & Pedal spokesman Ryan Walas. “If we can siphon some of those cars off the road ... they are going to avoid those most trafficked areas.”
Park & Pedal signs will be installed at the lots and designate spaces specifically for those using the free program. Participants must bring their own bikes.
The hubs are located in Watertown, Medford, Newton, Revere, and Boston. Additional hubs will open as the program expands. Organizers chose the lots based on their proximity to safe biking routes.
Walas said Park & Pedal, inspired by the president of Montague Bikes, mostly targets people who live in the suburbs and feel they have to drive all the way to work.
“Most people are either not willing to bike the whole distance, or are just not able to,” he said. “This is about just building awareness, and letting people know you can actually do this. It gives people the idea.”
The program launches Friday with a ceremony in the program’s flagship lot at Christian Herter Park, on Soldiers Field Road in Brighton. Participants can get free bike tune-ups there, and take part in group rides into the city.
Pete Stidman, executive director of the Boston Cyclists Union, said Park & Pedal is a great way to spread awareness about the areas growing bike network.
“As we continue to improve bike infrastructure, this will make it a lot more pleasant to bike through the city instead of drive through the city,” he said.Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.