11/18/14- Davis Square, Somerville, MA- Somerville has recently been ranked as the number one biking commuter city in the northeast, and fifth in the nation. (Alex Cherry / The Tufts Daily)

Whether it’s trekking to the nearest grocery store to supplement dining hall food with extra snacks or traveling into Boston to escape campus for a day of exploration, Tufts students need to travel. Fortunately, we have a variety of  transportation options, from the red line to local bus routes to — thanks to the efforts of the City of Somerville — easily accessible bike paths.

Tufts students should take advantage of the City of Somerville’s friendliness to bikers. The city has the highest share of cyclists in the East, with over seven percent of the population commuting by bike, according to the League of American Bicyclists. This large proportion of bicyclists is not an accident, but instead the intentional result of the Somerville Mayor’s Office increasing overall transportation accessibility throughout the city by redesigning important streets and creating safer and more welcoming environments for cyclists. Somerville has added more than 25 miles of bike markings and lanes, hundreds of bike parking spots and racks around the city and extensions of the community path to city streets in an effort to make cycling more accessible and environmentally friendly. This is in line with a national trend, as the United States Census Bureau reported a 62 percent increase in bicycle commuting since 2000 in the United States.

According to Tufts Bikes President Noah Epstein, biking is becoming more and more attractive. Traveling by bike is not only a great opportunity for Somerville residents, but also students at Tufts. Students have a variety of biking options on campus, including the Tufts Cycling Team, the annual Century Ride hosted by the Office of the Provost and a bike share program, Tufts Bikes.

Generationally, we are part of a national trend in which car ownership is down. According to a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the number of cars purchased by people aged 18 to 34 fell almost 30 percent from 2007 to 2011. There are immense benefits for biking, both physical and environmental, as biking promotes better personal fitness and increases overall air quality. Creating a permanent shift towards bike riding could create a greener future in urban areas.

As biking accessibility for Somerville residents grows, so does the ability for students at Tufts to travel by bike. All of these changes benefit students and increase our overall safety on the road. So the next time you venture off campus, instead of hopping in your car, spending money on the T or walking in the cold, grab your bike — or one of the free bikes available on campus — and take advantage of the bike markings, racks and paths that the City of Somerville has provided.