The radical change in Boston’s policies and attitudes at city hall towards bikes has never been clearer than in the new bike stations that are popping up throughout the city. Nearly an hour after perusing the new Hubway station on Boylston near Copley during our lunch break, we at FBA were surprised and delighted by the attendance of Alison Cohen at our office today. Alison is the President at Alta Bike Share, the company that operates the Hubway bike sharing program. We were thrilled to hear about the growing success of the new bike sharing program in the city and what this means for the potential of new growth and innovation in Boston.
Alison detailed the three year path that her company has taken to make bike sharing a reality in Boston. A former Bostonian who now resides in Philadelphia, she gives kudos to Mayor Menino for changing his attitude about biking in the city and cites the development of miles of bike lanes throughout the greater Boston area as a gateway to the emergence of Hubway. After Boston turned down the bike sharing program in 2009, five other cities have worked with Alta Bike Share to create programs including Denver, Minneapolis, Washington DC and Miami. Along with the success of these programs, Cohen says that with the help of Boston’s “bike czar” Nicole Freedman’s advocacy at city hall, Boston has finally joined the trend and started Hubway. Sponsored by New Balance, the bike sharing program currently has 46 bike stations open throughout the city with a total of 61 stations planned. The program has only been in existence for a few weeks and already has nearly 2000 members. It offers members and casual users the option for short term one way bike usage. It is interesting to note that the CDC has invested a million dollars in this program specifically regarding the potential public health aspect of it. The program is scheduled to expand to Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline in the fall or in the spring.
To find out more about the program click here: www.thehubway.com
Interestingly, the CDC has invested a million dollars in this program specifically regarding the potential benefit it may have to public health. However, the theory of this program goes beyond limiting car use and increasing levels of physical activity. Hubway will allow areas of Boston not easily accessible by public transportation to become less of urban islands. Cohen says that she hopes to “create connections that don’t exist” and eventually allow for places like Union Square, for example, to become accessible through a quick bike ride. This new way of traveling around the city will hopefully open up communication and interaction between areas that feel cut off from each other and give Bostonians the ability to think of their city in a new light. There is also a change in mentality of city goers about transportation options in the city with programs like Hubway suggests Cohen. She suggests that this mentality change opens the doors to changes in the city as a whole. The program and the innovation behind it excites us and makes us at FBA dream of what could be possible in our great city!
Written by Sam Harvell