BU Today

Campus Life

I Get Around

Boards, bikes, boats spice up the BU daily commute


How do you get to BU each day? For some, it’s as easy as rolling out of bed and walking a few blocks. But for many of the University’s 34,000 students and 10,000 plus employees, getting to school and work is more complicated. But as we found out, it can be a lot of fun, too.

In our special photo essay “I Get Around,” we look at some of the creative ways BU students and employees get to, from, and around their classes and jobs every day. Take a look.

Student riding a longboard around campus

Photo by Cydney Scott

Taylor Reed (CAS’22)

I use a longboard for transportation because I’ve been skateboarding and surfing for most of my life, so it’s both convenient and comfortable for me. It allows me to get across campus quickly, which is helpful because I commute from West Campus to CAS and the Metcalf Science Building for most of my classes. The only drawback: all the construction on Comm Ave makes skating in the street somewhat dangerous. I have special wheels with ridges cut into them to roll over gravel and provide grip in the rain, and that makes it a little less dangerous to skate through the construction debris, but my safety mostly depends on my balance and the caution of drivers. That said, I can take my longboard with me pretty much anywhere and it allows me to travel two to three times the average walking speed with half the effort, so that, plus the added fun factor, makes it worth the risk.

Woman commuting on a Boston Harbor ferry talking to a companion

Photo by Cydney Scott

Meghan Reilly, project manager, research administration and faculty systems, Information Services & Technology

I’ve been commuting on the MBTA Hingham/Hull Ferry since 2011. From my home in Hull, it’s about a five-minute drive to Pemberton Pier, where the ferry departs for Long Wharf in Boston. The boat ride is about 25 minutes, and from Long Wharf I often take the MBTA Blue Line from Aquarium to Government Center and switch to the Green Line. In nicer weather, I mix it up by riding my bicycle to the boat (the boat has bike racks, so it’s easy to bring your bike into the city) and then ride my bike from Long Wharf to BU. The boat ride is one of the best parts of my day—there’s a real sense of community. I’ve seen whales and seals in the harbor. I’ve seen the tall ships on my commute. The boat crew gets to know everyone, and that really humanizes public transportation. I can get a cup of coffee on the way in to work at the boat’s snack bar, and on the way home they serve beer, wine, and mixed drinks. Around the holidays, a group of regular commuters brings guitars and harmonicas and leads riders in singing carols.

Glenn Wrigley, director, Educational Resource Center. Uses an Indian motorcycle to get to and from his home in West Newton.

Photo by Cydney Scott

Glenn Wrigley, director, Educational Resource Center

I commute on an Indian motorcycle. The 10-mile one-way trip from West Newton can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours (thanks, Comm Ave Bridge Project). I developed a taste for riding about 20 years ago while I was living in Italy—I was friends with a motorcycle mechanic, and on weekends he and I would go on road trips in the central Apennine Mountains. Two-wheel culture is very different in Europe than in the United States—I would say that almost every household there owns some type of scooter or motorcycle, probably because they’re fuel-efficient (my Indian gets about 60 mpg) and easy to park, so they’re seen as a cheap and easy way to get around town. I brought that mentality home with me when I moved back here in 1998. What do I love about riding a motorcycle? All of the clichés apply—the feel of the open road, the “true driving experience” of having to use both hands and both feet to operate the bike, the “cool” factor (which gets more elusive as I get older), and most of all, the power and the sound of the 1200CC motor.

Erin Guevara (CAS'22) with her skateboard

Photo by Cydney Scott

Erin Guevara (COM’22)

I commute every day from Sleeper Hall in West Campus to my classes in CAS on my Penny board. I have been riding the same board every day since sixth grade, and it’s taken me everywhere. It’s always pleasant to fly past the clogged Comm Ave sidewalks in the morning in the bike lane, although it can also be risky, with the bikers and Boston drivers. Recent construction has also posed some issues, with pieces of asphalt lying around that catch in the wheels, which has led to a few wipeouts on my way to class. Even given that, it’s nice to get some endorphins working in the morning, a bit of a wake-up before class. As a Los Angeles native who is unaccustomed to slick roads, sporadic rain, and the strong winds many mornings this fall, I’ve been struggling with the weather, but I wouldn’t trade the rides for the world. The breeze in the morning when going downhill between the West Campus dorms and the BU Bridge is so refreshing, and the view of the Prudential Center is breathtaking and eye-catching, even in fog.

student standing in front of the T logo of a commuter rail station

Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

Katherine Childs (LAW’20)

I live on Federal Hill in Providence with my partner, Ryan, and our son, Donovan. This semester I commute to and from the School of Law three days a week. I catch a RIPTA bus at 7:55 am at DePasquale Square and take it to the Providence train station, switching buses once. Last year, RIPTA began accepting my Zone 8 MBTA Commuter Rail Pass, so riding Rhode Island buses doesn’t cost anything extra now. Then I catch the 8:25 am train to Back Bay, usually arriving around 9:30. I walk over to Copley Square, catch the MBTA Green Line B trolley, and get off at BU Central. All told, it’s about a two-hour commute each way, and I really enjoy it. I often read on the train, and when the weather’s mild in the fall, I walk to or from the train station for a little exercise. My friend and mentor during my MFA in Tuscaloosa, Michael Martone, loves trains, so I was primed to be fascinated with train journeys. Then I took Torts last year with LAW prof Keith Hylton, and trains featured prominently in many of the cases. I love that public transportation has been so integral to my experience living in the Northeast. I grew up in the South Carolina low country, where there wasn’t much public transportation, so it still seems magical to me that a community can come together around shared travel in this way.

Two faculty members standing in front of the Audi they carpool in

Photo by Cydney Scott

Eugene Mahr, director of development, Asia, and Jeffrey Kahn, director of principal gifts, Development & Alumni Relations

We have been carpooling for three years. Prior to that, we were driving separately to the office. When we discovered we were living only three blocks from each other in Newton, and coincidentally, working in the same BU department, we decided to try carpooling. We’ve cut our parking and fuel costs in half, reduced our carbon footprint, have extra time for shop talk, and have been able to free up a space in the garage at work. We also now have a reserved spot in our building, which is particularly useful when the garage is full. The very manageable downside is that we have to coordinate our schedules. While we don’t share music tastes (pop for Jeff, show tunes for Eugene), we have agreed to listen to WBUR to and from work.

Student standing in front of an mbta bus

Photo by Cydney Scott

Patrick Duffill (CAS’20)

I typically take the T to and from class each day. Going back and forth from West to East Campus is so much easier taking the bus or jumping on the trolley. Especially during the winter and snowy months, the T relieves me from navigating the icy sidewalks. It’s about a 10- to 20-minute commute from West to my classes, depending on my timing. While it is a little expensive to buy a semester pass through BU and at certain times of the day the T can be uncomfortably crowded or a train can go out of service unexpectedly, in the end it’s a worthwhile investment, because I use it for more than just commuting to class. If I want to take a trip to the other side of Boston, I can just jump on the T by my dorm and go anywhere from Quincy to Revere. My most memorable commutes are when people bring their dogs on the T. Most of the time they can be well-behaved, but sometimes they get a little overwhelmed and don’t know how to respond to all the people on board. I once saw someone’s black lab try to sniff and greet every single person that walked by.

Woman riding her bike up commonwealth avenue

Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

Anne Tabora (Wheelock’19), graduate student assistant athletic trainer, Athletic Training Services

I currently commute to BU from Brookline, about a one and a half mile bike ride. I find that biking is the fastest and most convenient mode of transportation from my apartment, because there is no direct T or bus route and it’s faster than walking. With biking, I start my day off with a bit of physical activity, which makes me feel good about myself. Biking has become an activity that helps my mental health status. A downside is that I tend to arrive to my destination a bit sweaty, but I carry extra deodorant, so it isn’t too bad. In addition, my hair gets a little messy from my helmet—but I can’t imagine not wearing a helmet biking, because you only get one brain. I look forward to the protected bike lanes being finished on campus. I am always afraid of getting my bike stolen, so I use a U-lock with a cable to lock it up on campus, and at night I bring it into my apartment.

Student riding a halo board around campus

Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

James Lin (CGS’19)

I use a Halo Board, an electric skateboard made of carbon fiber. On one full charge it goes 12 miles with regenerative braking. The board can reach up to 24 mph; however, I have yet to try the maximum speed as I am still new at skateboarding. I felt pressured to buy one because of my class schedule: one of my classes is in Questrom and the class right after is at the College of General Studies. Although there is a 20-minute gap between each class, it wasn’t enough time, given the traffic lights and the congested sidewalks, and I would still be a couple of minutes late. The real deciding factor in buying the skateboard was the price: a Labor Day sale had cut it almost in half. The original price was $1,497, but I got it for $897. Having the Halo Board has definitely improved my standard of living. I use it not only weekdays, but also weekends. Meeting friends and going on errands has been much less time-consuming. What is a bit troublesome at times is that people don’t respect your presence, especially at crosswalks. They simply walk in front of you, forcing you to brake dangerously, or they stand on the ramps from the sidewalk to the street that a skateboarder needs to use. Even when they look back and see you on it, more than likely they don’t move. Riding a Halo Board on Comm Ave, you pass many people, and it always sparks a comment.

Photo of a woman riding the bus down commonwealth avenue.

Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

Miwa Watkins, project and communications specialist, Human Relations

Most days I walk from Brookline to StuVi and take the BUS (BU Shuttle) to the last stop on Albany Street on the Medical Campus. There are some regulars that I recognize each morning. We are all part of BU, and so I think there is a bit more care among those on the BUS: it’s different than riding on the MBTA, where there is no sense of commonality with other passengers. On a ride last year, a student next to me found out she had gotten the fellowship placement she wanted, and she clutched my arm and started to cry. She was so excited. Everyone around was congratulating her on her good news, and I enjoyed being part of someone else’s happiness. During semester finals it’s quiet and faces are drawn—you can feel the students’ pressure. You don’t need a school calendar to know the hour that finals end: the mood on the BUS is suddenly euphoric.

Man standing with his motorbike pictured in a rear view mirror

Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

Gary Bloom (LAW’19)

I love getting around the city, and around campus, on my 50cc KYMCO scooter. Whether commuting to the School of Law from my apartment in Beacon Hill or shuttling between the law, business, and medical schools, I truly love the freedom my scooter affords me. It has been my primary means of transportation since the day I bought it two years ago, and I knew when I decided to go back to law school that it would continue to be. No waiting for the MBTA for me. And though my Subaru and mountain bike may sit neglected for weeks, my scooter gets daily attention. In fact, I ride it all year long, and though riding in the cold or wet weather is not always the most fun, the ease of parking more than makes up for it. Like I tell people all the time, it’s all about the parking. I love that I can just hop up on the sidewalk and lock my scooter any reasonable place I want. Of course, I always try to be responsible and considerate of others. Despite this convenience, I must confess that on rare occasions I’ve thought of taking the BU Shuttle (BUS) to get between the law school and the business school. But then I’ll see students running for the BUS, and I’ll think, no more running after buses for me. Why would I run after a bus when my KYMCO is waiting so patiently for me?



2 Comments on I Get Around

  • Jeffrey Petersen on 10.22.2018 at 10:15 am

    Thanks BU Today for a great article. I have always assumed motorized vehicles on sidewalks to be prohibited by law -wouldn’t the same be true of motorized skateboards? -perhaps this might explain why Mr. Lin has encountered so many startled pedestrians on his sidewalk excursions. I’m sure there’ll be room for everyone once Comm Ave re-construction is finished. Only one more year to go -God help us!

    • Matt on 10.24.2018 at 8:31 am

      Agreed. SideWALKs are for walking, there’s a reason “people don’t respect your presence.”

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