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Boston by Bike: An Interview with Bob Foley from Urban AdvenTours

After a fun-filled day on a cycling tour around Boston, Phil Murray chats to Bob Foley from Urban AdvenTours to see why you too should see Boston by bike...

Why do you think the best way to see Boston is by bike?

Our bike tours take you through areas of Boston you would never see on a bus. Friendly knowledgeable staff safely guide you to some of the most scenic and interesting areas of the city. Boston is a small, bike and walk friendly city. Take a bike tour early in your Boston vacation as it's a great introduction to the city and you'll have a much better feel for the highlights and the lay of the land for the rest of your visit.

What are the Boston highlights you get to see on the tour?

We take you through seven or eight neighbourhoods, Downtown, along scenic Charles River and around Boston Harbor. Depending on the tour chosen, riders could see and stop in the North End, Beacon Hill, Fenway, South End and Back Bay / Copley neighborhoods, as well as college campuses.

On our flagship tour, City View, you will see:

  • The North End – Boston’s Italian and oldest residential neighborhood, with views of Charlestown
  • The Charles River Esplanade, with views of Cambridge and MIT
  • Boston University Campus and Kenmore Square
  • Historic Fenway Park
  • The Christian Science Center
  • Copley Square, home of the John Hancock Building and the finish line of the Boston Marathon
  • The beautiful brownstones in Back Bay and the South End
  • Boston Common
  • The Rose Kennedy Greenway – Boston’s newest public park
  • The Long Wharf, with views of South and East Boston

There are some beautiful parts of the city, with its colonial architecture, parks and river. What’s your favourite part of the tour?

I enjoy the highlights and quirks of all the neighborhoods. As a guide, my favorite part of the tours are the people and showing newcomers the beauty of Boston. Anyone that signs up for a bike tour is typically in good mood.

We were small tour, so we got to stop at the most photographed street in town. Tell us about that.

Beacon Hill is a neighborhood of Federal-style row houses. Much of the architecture style is similar to the architecture in London. Known for its narrow, gaslit streets and brick sidewalks, Beacon Hill is regarded as one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Boston.

Is it just about getting around as much of the city as possible? How much do you get to learn about the city?

Boston is a city of firsts and innovation. We try to maintain balance between safety, fun, exercise, and sharing our knowledge of Boston’s bests.

How fast-paced is the tour? How fit do you have to be?

Tour guests have ranged in age from 5 to 80+. Anyone reasonably fit should enjoy our tours. Guides are patient and happy to give riding tips to the less experienced. We commonly see riders start a tour apprehensively and return with that confident smile.

We’ve recently started offering an upgrade to an electric bike, which is available on all of our tours. E-bikes are a growing trend in cycling right now. Not only are they fun, but they provide an added boost for those who may not ride a bike on a regular basis.

What about fuel then? What local dishes should people try – before or after the ride?

A healthy breakfast is great fuel for the 2.5 - 3 hour ride. You certainly don’t want to join the tour hungry because within minutes of setting off you are cycling past the North End’s famous Italian restaurants! We supply water to keep tour guests hydrated. The diversity of Boston brings great dining choices and fresh seafood is unmatched. Our knowledgeable staff can point you towards the vast dining, drinking, and sweet options. 

Before you set off, what advice do you give your British riders about bike safety and rules of the road?

The front and rear brake levers on US bicycles are opposite of British bikes, meaning the US rear brake is operated by the right-hand lever. Use both brakes together and you will safely stop. Also, US cars and bikes ride on the right-hand side of road.

Does the tour operate year round? What’s the best season to see the city?

Tours are available year round. However, Boston has four seasons and snow in winter. We will go out unless safety is compromised. The months between late March to November are optimum. I enjoy all the seasons but autumn air is my favourite.

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Getting the ol’ signs ready for spring!

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How long have you been an Urban Adventours guide and what qualities do you bring to the job?

I'm approaching my fifth year as an Urban AdvenTours tour guide, and I've been riding a bike around Boston since the second grade. I’ve seen the city evolve and improve into the beautiful, culturally diverse community it is today.

So how much do you love what you do?

I ride a bike around a great city, meet nice people, and show them the highlights…what more can I say?

How long have you lived in and around Boston? And how much do you love the area and why?

I have lived in Boston area my whole life. I love travelling abroad and around the US but I think Boston will always be home. The diverse neighbourhoods, the food, culture, music, and passionate sports will keep me here.

Parking the bike for a moment, what is the one thing visitors should do before leaving Boston?

Walk some of the cool neighborhoods in Boston any time of year. Then, once you've worked up an appetite, enjoy our seafood - it's some of the best in the US.

Written by Phil Murray

With parents in the travel industry, I was pretty much born with one of those take-off sweets in my mouth. I’m very fortunate to be close to clocking up my 50th country - not that I’ll slow down after that. No matter how many places I visit, I don’t think the excitement that comes with boarding a plane will ever wear off. Flying, for me, is one of the most extraordinary things we get to do as human beings and I’ll always be first in line for that window seat!

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