What’s New: Hubway Hype

Hubway Hype

By Maja Orsic

On July 28, Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino launched the first installment of New Balance Hubway, a bike-sharing program the city hopes will reach 100,000 people in its first year.

Earlier this year, the League of American Bicyclists granted Somerville a Bronze level ranking as a bicycle friendly community. By installing 11.1 new miles of bicycle infrastructure in 2010, a 137 percent increase, Somerville has made rapid progress toward greater bike friendliness, the League noted. The installation of Hubway stations is the logical next step.

At press time, Somerville was in negotiations with Alta Bicycle Share, the Portland, Ore., company in charge of Hubway, to secure its own bicycle stations. If the city signs the proposed contract and six station kiosks are installed this fall, the city will host 60 individual Hubway bike docks (10 per station) and become part of a network corridor expected to connect riders in Boston, Somerville, Cambridge and Brookline.

“We’re hoping everyone will use [the bike share]: commuters, people running errands and tourists just visiting for the day,” says Nicole Rioles, Somerville’s Regional Active Transportation Director.

Hubway offers two types of memberships, annual and casual. For casual riders, memberships can be purchased at Hubway kiosks, which only charge riders’ cards for rides over 30 minutes.

For annual memberships the cost is $85, but the fee gives users a 25-percent discount on the casual rates.

Somerville kiosks with 10 bicycles and 19 bicycle docks are planned for Davis, Porter and Union Squares, as well as City Hall (93 Highland Ave), Conway Park (Somerville Ave and Central St) and the intersection of Washington St and Beacon St.

If the city signs the contract with Alta, the bikes will be delivered within 16 weeks. That 16-week lag could postpone the Somerville launch to spring 2012, since bikes would need to be stored inside for the winter.

But Rioles is optimistic there’ll be bikes in Somerville before winter. “The rollout in Boston was successful, so we’re anticipating a fall [2011] start,” she says.

In order to promote safe ridership, “Hubway has made a relationship with Walgreen’s to offer riders affordable helmets that you can buy with your membership,” she adds.

Hubway registrants with annual memberships are also required to watch a safety video before completing their membership sign-up forms.

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