It all started with one flawed idea: walk around taking pictures of people playing sports. Anything would do: from friends throwing a frisbee, to a runner, to a father-son game of catch. The flaw? It rained four days straight in Boston, and thermometers hit 55 ºF and sometimes below that. No one, of course, took it outside to throw a ball around.
At some point, however, the other idea came around and started the walking around. The flaw this time? It was 3 a.m. with this constant drizzle still around. And, of course, at this time of the night no one is outside, much less practicing any sporting activity.
That is when I started taking pictures of bicycles around the places I walked by and realized how much that says about state of cycling in this city.
More than a sport, cycling is a commute alternative to Bostonians. According to data from the most recent American Community Survey in 2014, there were over 8,000 bicyclists in the city and an increase of over 100% to 2013 in the state of Massachussets. Currently, 56% of the households in Boston own one or more bikes, while the city is top 10 in the country in cyclist per capita. And for almost a decade now, it is an official policy by city hall to stimulate the use of bicycles as a transportation mean.
As a matter of fact, walking around when very few people are around and cars come just once in a while gives you a lot fo time to notice how many bikes are out there. You would pass by the many apartment complexes, or university residence hall, even the museums, and see series of 6 and 7 bicycles parked; colored, black, thin, tall. Normal or vintage looking. Aluminium or carbon fiber. They are all around at this time of the night, almost as decorations to lamp posts, bus stops and any stake-like object where the owner could secure them with bike locks or chains.
During the few hours outside on the drizzling weather of that night, one single rider passed me by, but I couldn’t catch him in time. As I walked back home, this other bicycle called my attention. It was there when I passed on the way in, though I couldn’t care less. After the night that turned out as a flawless experience, though, it struck me as a lightning.
What is most surprising about this adventure – walking around at 3 a.m. aside – is that I haven’t got on a bike for over a decade now. Well, I might now.
(all photos by Felippe Rodrigues)