As a member of the Somerville House (which, when combined with Natick House’s abbreviation NH, completes the compass points created by WH and EH), I find myself frequently commuting to Olin through a variety of means. Today marks my 4th successful bike ride from Olin back to the Boston area, and I’ve finally settled on a regular route. It’s something that I’d been hoping to pin down for a while, since I’ve had some pretty bad experiences when I didn’t really know what I was doing. For your convenience, here are the maps (if you’ve never heard of pika, see my introductory post):
I’ve run this exact route twice, and have generally found Beacon making for the best compromise between a direct route and an enjoyable one. It has the added advantage of going all the way into Boston, so you can easily modify these directions to get anywhere that you’d like. There are some not-insignificant hills in the suburban parts, but with enough patience and proper gearing, you should be able to make the route in an hour at most. Note that it’s 12.5 miles long, and a bike tops out at between 15 and 25 mph. So considering that you will be stopping at traffic lights and the such, you should be able to get your time down into the 45 minute range- which is comparable to driving in traffic!
It’s a pretty enjoyable ride, and definitely makes me feel like a respectably fit person for at least the rest of the day. I highly recommend that you try it before it gets too cold. So much so, in fact, that if you pull into pika with a bike at around 6:15. I will invite you to dinner and introduce you to everyone around here. They’re really cool, which is why Gui never sees me (he’s pretty cool too, but not 32 times as cool as the average pikan).
Actually, if you show up through any means, you’re more than welcome to a pika dinner. They love visitors and, thanks to Ryan Hubbard, think all Oliners are fantastic. Other suggestions for non-car transportation include:
- Green Line (take it from Eliot to Kenmore, then get off and grab an outbound Green-B to Boston University Central and follow this map)
- Wellesley Bus: This was my primary mode of transportation for the last two years. Note that there are two flavors- the Exchange Bus and the Senate Bus. The Exchange Bus is much like the Olin-Babson-Wellesley shuttle, insofar as it’s free, during class times, and theoretically restricted to students of those schools. However, I’ve only once been asked for my ID, by a new driver who was still a stickler for the rules, and was able to confuse him with my old MIT ID from the summer. Guys- you’re likely to be the only male on the bus, but if you look like you belong they won’t care. And to be honest, the bus never fills up during weekdays, so they have no reason to. Senate Bus exists to bring students into Boston on weekends. It requires a $2 ticket, which cannot be bought on the bus. I recommend getting them at the machines in the Wellesley student center, right near the parking circle entrance, where you wait for the bus anyway. If you realize that you’ve got no ticket as you’re boarding the bus, you may be able to get help either from the driver not caring or a friendly Wellesley student. However, this bus does fill up inbound btwn 9-10pm / outbound btwn 12 and 1. Wellesley students will get pissed at you if you crowd them out. Generally, you should be extremely polite and remember that you are a visitor of sorts. Both of their schedules can be found here.
- Commuter Rail: There’s no reason to do this, unless you want to take in a bike (forbidden on the Green Line), but can’t ride it all the way. The closest stop is Wellesley Square, and you’ll end up in South Station. It’s expensive, erratic and slow, sort of like the Big Dig on rails.
- Bus: At least it’s cheaper than commuter rail. If you’re entirely without transportation of any sort, this will (eventually) get you into Boston. You’ll have to use an unholy combination of this bus, out of Needham, and this one, which almost reaches the exciting parts of the city. There may be some variants- feel free to post them if you find a better route.
- GoLoco: A recent startup designed to make ride-sharing cool again. It’s sort of like Facebook, except you can see trips that your friends have posted, and hop along (with seamless cost-sharing). It should be noted that, according to GoLoco’s formula, a solo drive into Boston is significantly more expensive than any of the options except for the commuter rail, and probably more dangerous than all but biking. As a full disclosure, I know the founder, and may at some point do an internship there. But it’s pretty clear that having a system like this to organize trips into Boston would alleviate both the stress of not having a car on Friday night, and the stress of always being asked to drive your car on Friday night (well, at least your passengers would share the cost).
I hope that you give it a shot. If you want any advice, feel free to comment or email me. I’d be up for leading a bike trip into Boston at some point, so please tell me if you’re interested and we can figure out the best time.
It should also be noted that the New York City subway pwns the T like a five-headed piranha at a cow eating contest.