By Jackie Yun
Last year, Bike Harvard: A GSAS Student Group was formed. I talked with PhD students Marissa Grunes and Caitlin McMurtry, the student leaders of Bike Harvard, to learn more about the group and ways that GSAS students can get involved.
How was your group formed?
Before we met in 2016, we were looking for bike groups at Harvard that focused on serving the needs of urban cyclists. We were regular bike commuters and had been interested in bikes for some time: Caitlin helped to run the Harvard Longwood Cyclists group and Marissa volunteered at Quad Bikes, the Harvard bike shop in the Radcliffe Quad. Despite the fact that thousands of students bike to campus daily, we couldn’t find a student group at Harvard focused on safety among city riders. The need for such a group became especially visible last fall after the deaths of two cyclists within Cambridge city limits. We reached out to you separately, you kindly put us in touch with each other, and Bike Harvard: GSAS was formed.
What is the group’s mission?
Bike Harvard: GSAS is dedicated to making bicycling safe, fun, and accessible to everyone at Harvard, with a special focus on graduate students. We promote this through safety tutorials, activities that promote a supportive cycling community, outreach to local community groups, and advocacy aimed at making city streets safer for all users. To respond to the stresses faced by cyclists in Cambridge, we organized our group around four key issues:
■ Communication among cyclists
■ Outreach and public service–work involving bikes
■ Safety education
■ Advocacy for safer road design
Working groups established around these four issues help to organize and run events and projects. Last year, we hosted a happy hour in Harvard Square, a bike movie night at Dudley House, a maintenance clinic with free check-ups (in collaboration with Quad Bikes) in front of the Science Center, and a beautiful spring ride to the Arnold Arboretum for a picnic. This year, we are looking forward to hosting a bike fair in mid-September (with cycling groups from Harvard and the Boston area), along with an evening of short TEDstyle talks on cycling—and, of course, more free bike maintenance events, rides, and social activities.
Can you share some tips for members of the biking community?
1. Basic safety: Wear a helmet and use front and rear lights for visibility!
2. Basic rules: Obey stop signs and stop lights. Lawful and predictable behavior helps keep you safe.
4. Bike defensively:
■ Watch for cars turning right (including vehicles pulling into the bike lane)
■ Don’t be afraid to take a traffic lane and occupy the space like a car
■ Avoid the “door zone”—allow plenty of space between you and parked cars
5. Be patient! Give yourself 10 extra minutes to get where you’re going without rushing.
6. Bike with joy: Meet aggression with kindness and approach challenges with curiosity and compassion.