Joining the ranks of Paris, Barcelona, Denver and Washington D.C., bike sharing is coming to the Bay State. Launching this month, “the Hubway”, Boston’s bike sharing program will debut with 600 bikes and 61 stations throughout the city.
Provided through Alta Bicycle Share, Inc., the program is similar in concept to Zipcar. Bike rentals are offered via daily, weekly or annual memberships. The program allows renters to pick up a bike at one station and return it at another location. To manage it all as conveniently as possible, bike check in and check out will be done electronically at computerized stations of 10 to 20 bike docks.
As part of managing the bike share program, Alta Bicycle Share, Inc. will maintain the bikes, making sure they are in good working condition. They will also calibrate the stations - moving the bikes from popular locations to popular origins to make sure demand is met. Like the MBTA, the Hubway will provide a system-specific website and a cellphone application enabling users to access up-to-the-minute information on bike availability and station docking space status.
Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline are also looking at the Hubway program. Last year, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to begin discussions with Alta to bring the Hubway to Brookline. Selectmen Jesse Mermell has been a key player in the process, “I chaired the Bike Committee for the town, and recommended for Brookline to proceed in joining the Hubway,” she explained in a recent interview.
While implementing the system will cost approximately $97,000 for one station, officials state it will come at no cost to taxpayers. While the specific amounts are still being finalized, the cost will be covered between grant money and private donations.
Like other cities with a bike sharing system, the question of the public’s receptiveness for the concept arises. Selectman Jesse Mermell shared that in Brookline “the response has been incredibly positive,” She continued, “the Hubway will provide transportation for people who may not have other ways of getting around.”
Along with providing an alternative source of transportation, “the Hubway will help reduce automobile trips, therefore reducing our carbon footprint and improving public health with physical activity,’ she added.
Proposed locations for the Hubway starting stations target Coolidge Corner and Brookline Village. In Coolidge Corner, a site next to the outbound T platform and the small triangle of land at Pleasant and Beacon Streets are under consideration. In Brookline Village, locations include the new platform behind 10 Brookline Place on the south side.
All in all, the initial response to the Hubway has been positive. The program is scheduled to launch in Brookline in 2012.