Bike Through Boston for a Greener Adventure

Urban AdvenTours Pedals its Way Around the City and Contributes to the Environment

Bicycling is becoming a new form of tourism in Boston promoting a greener way to explore the sights and sounds of one of the most historical cities in the nation. 

For years, travelers have toured cities by bus, trolley or boat, but now Urban AdvenTours (UA) is providing an eco-friendly way to ride around Boston and sightsee. An avid supporter of the green movement, this tour and rental shop provides tours for city residents and tourists on bicycles.

“I love walking around cities to see the sites, but on a bike I [can] cover more ground, but still really take everything in,” Ashley Bleimes, a UA customer said. “You get to see a lot more than when you’re in a car or bus, and the only power you’re using is your own.” 

UA first started in 2004 and opened its current location in January 2009 across from Christopher Columbus Park in the North End.

With at least 150 bikes, anyone can enjoy several tours that UA provides, such as the most popular City View Bicycle Tour, where riders can discover the North End, Beacon Hill, Fenway and the Back Bay. Other tours include pedaling to the Charles River, the Harpoon Brewery and the Emerald Necklace, where individuals can enjoy urban green spaces. Tours run seasonally and usually peter off with winter. 

“Taking a bike tour is a great way to get comfortable with riding on city streets and learning how to navigate urban biking,” Danielle Tarloff, the UA marketing director, said. 

Bicycling is a healthy lifestyle promoting exercise and activity, along with benefiting the environment. 

Not only is biking safer and healthier, it is flexible and while touring on bikes people can get closer to places buses can’t, Peter Duran, a UA tour guide said. 

Bike riders can hop off and on to snap pictures and get up close and personal with the surroundings. 

Tarloff suggested taking UA’s tours early on, if traveling or moving to Boston, as it helps with navigating the city. Also, when riding outside, people can experience nature first-hand. 

She noted how important it is to promote biking and green tourism as it’s less expensive, super-efficient and healthier. “Bikes are livable streets” just like the Livable Streets organization in Boston promotes, Tarloff said. 

Jackie Douglas, the director of Livable Streets, a non-profit organization promoting alternative transportation in Boston, considers UA a great way to see the city. 

“They provide tours for all people, are a bike shop for locals, and support active healthy lifestyles,” she said. 

Boston has integrated biking into the community in numerous ways such as an increase in bicycle lanes, shops and events, Douglas said. Biking creates zero emissions and takes up less space, reducing congestion, along with improving individuals’ health, she said. 

In addition, Duran also noted there is more of an acceptance in Boston to other forms of transportation, like biking. 

“Businesses are becoming more bike-friendly and now you don’t have to drive cars everywhere,” Duran said. 

In addition, biking is a great way to educate others about green or responsible tourism and show how easy it is to integrate into daily lifestyles. 

Responsible tourism does several things like build awareness within the tourism industry, help others to integrate eco-friendliness into their lives and create a one-on-one relationship with nature, Tarloff said. Overall, everyone can see Boston in a different way while bicycling. 

“Green travel is something more and more people are looking for on vacation [and] biking is an easy way to feel good, while also doing your part for the environment,” Bleimes said. 

It’s also a growing trend in urban areas. 

“The more locals see bikers on the street, the more likely they are to encourage bike lanes and other infrastructure[s] to get people out of cars,” Bleimes said. “I probably wouldn’t have rented a car or taken taxis anyway [when touring Boston], but I think biking is definitely part of a “green” lifestyle,” she said, adding that it can encourage people to look at travel in new ways. 

“People just need to get off the couch and do exercise instead of sitting on a bus listening to someone talk,” Lee Bailey, a UA customer said. “It’s passive versus active.” 

As Tarloff said, “Reduce your carbon footprint by burning carbs instead.” 

Nicole Freedman, director of Boston’s bicycles programs, said people love biking and think it’s a great experience, especially while traveling. 

“Nobody comes home from a trip raving about how they sat in traffic in a car, on the flip side, they love to talk about how they biked everywhere,” Freedman said. 

The city of Boston is a huge supporter of UA, Freedman said, “In 2008, we provided a substantial loan to Urban AdvenTours which helped them expand their business.” 

UA is more than just a tourism business, but also a repair and bicycle shop. Customers can purchase many eco-friendly products such as, biodegradable cleaning products and T-shirts from the UA eco-friendly line. The shop is 90 percent re-purposed and incorporates green materials such as low-emission paint into its business. 

UA also has its own BioBus, an eco-friendly bicycle delivery bus that runs on recycled vegetable oil, provided by Prezza and The Living Room, two restaurants in Boston. 

This year, the League of American Bicyclists website notes that the UA received its silver award for being a bike-friendly business. 

The UA continually works toward its goal of being a green business and encouraging others to do the same. As the UA website says, “Our mission continues to be providing exciting, healthy and eco-friendly bicycle tours to visitors and residents of Boston. Our goal is to get more people out riding bikes.” 

“Cities can really take advantage of this trend by giving people plenty of ways to be green [and] it can earn them a reputation as being a green city, while also helping local citizens who depend on tourism,” Bleimes said. “Plus, in a city like Boston, you probably can’t fit very many more cars, but there is plenty of space for bikers.” 

~Allyson Koerner