Boston to Expand Hubway Bike-Share After Brilliant First Season

They’ve logged more than 140,000 rides over just four months. And now Boston’s brand new Hubway bike sharing system is packing it in for the cold New England winter.

Boston's Hubway bike sharing system is celebrating its successful first season with an expansion. Photo: ##http://articles.boston.com/2011-11-28/news/30451121_1_empty-stations-bikes-bicycle-sharing## The Boston Globe##

But when it returns in the spring, it will be expanding, adding stations in Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline. In total, the barely four-month-old bike sharing system will add 30 stations and roughly 300 bicycles — a 50 percent increase, according to a report from The Boston Globe.

Hubway has come out of the gate roaring, surpassing early ridership figures from some of the country’s most well known bike sharing systems, according to the paper.

Its first 2 ½ months, Hubway recorded 100,000 station-to-station rides, significantly eclipsing the pace of similar systems in Minneapolis (where Nice Ride needed six months to reach that mark) and Denver (where B-cycle needed 7 ½ months).

And it seems Boston’s neighboring cities and towns were feeling left out of the bike sharing excitement. Jeff Levine, director of planning and community development in Brookline, told the Globe that the “number one question” he gets is, “When is Hubway coming to Brookline?”

Local news site BostInno credited the system with helping make Boston more bike friendly overall. Writer Lisa DeCanio said that despite some lingering ambivalence about biking in Boston, growing enthusiasm cleared the way for the removal of 71 parking spots on Massachusetts Avenue to make way for a bike lane. She called the Hubway a “shining success,” noting that even the Bruins have gotten on board, “with players riding to and from practice.”

Hearing the news, Network blog Boston Biker was cheerfully smug.

Woo! And this after everyone thought the streets would run red with the blood of a thousand dead Hubway cyclists … seems that Boston city streets are not [as] rough and tumble for cyclists as they used to be.

Hubway was funded in part with a $3 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration. The Boston region’s Metropolitan Area Planning Council is overseeing the expansion.

  • Anonymous

    This is really great news. Boston has amazing potential (given it’s mostly pre-automobile historic layout) to be the country’s top bicycling city, and this is a great start towards that end.

  • yWhyNot

    Great program. Great ridership. I live right across the street from a station and they are all very well used. The one issue.. Boston streets are completely inappropriate for cyclist. The primary reason why the streets have not “run red with the blood of a thousand dead Hubway cyclists” is that they are all riding on the sidewalk and scaring the life out of pedestrians.

    Great program but Boston needs to get better at bike infrastructure. There is not one single buffered bike lane in the city. The lanes they do have a full of potholes or are in the gutter. There are a few good bike paths but if they want more cycling trips they need to update the infrastructure. Overall, a great program though.

  • Daphna

    It would be very exciting if Boston’s numbers are replicated in NYC proportionally.  200 bikes yielded 140,000 rides over four months in Boston.  NYC is going to have 10,000 bikes!  If NYC bikeshare is used as much as Boston’s, then those 10,000 bikes will yield 7 million rides over four months!  That would be amazing!  At that point, the anti-bike politicians on the City Council and the anti-bike media reporters and editors would have to give up their battle against biking.

  • “It would be very exciting if Boston’s numbers are replicated in NYC proportionally.”

    I expect New Yorkers to take to this way more readily than Bostonians. Most of us Bostonians live in triple deckers with just enough space in the back to stash a bike. You all have much more of a challenge storing bikes where they don’t tempt anyone. 

  • Yay Boston! I’m glad to hear Brooklyn, Cambridge and Somerville are getting on board. I’d also like to read more stories about the Hubway and how it’s running.

  • Mark

    jd_x hit the nail on the head exactly – comparing systems in Denver and Minneapolis to ones in Boston or DC is hardly apples to apples. 

  • Anonymous

    @openid-39600:disqus wrote: “Most of us Bostonians live in triple deckers with just enough space in
    the back to stash a bike. You all have much more of a challenge storing
    bikes where they don’t tempt anyone”

    I think that is the very last of the problems with getting people to cycle in Boston. Believe me, there are just as small of apartments in, say Paris, where many more people cycle. People can easily figure out how to store a bicycle in a small apartment; much more difficult is creating the political willpower to provide cross-city bicycle infrastructure.

  • Shemp

    Taking the best comparative bike share usage metric, rides per bike per day, Boston seems to come out at about 2 (140,000/600/120) versus 4 to 5 being reported in Washington earlier this year.  

    Hubway has 600 bikes, not 200 as declared elsewhere in these comments.  

    The real result is probably slightly higher because the rides are “over 140,000” and I don’t know how many days the round “four months” really amounts to.  

    This isn’t bad for a start-up that doesn’t cover much of residential urban Boston, but it’s not world-beating either.  I don’t doubt that it crushes Minneapolis or Denver by this measure, but a dense East Coast city should crush those places.  

  • “People can easily figure out how to store a bicycle in a small apartment”

    Now compare to docking a sharebike, where you don’t have to.

  • Daphna

    To Shemp: Thank you for the correction.  I misunderstood the figures from article.  Now I understand that Boston started with 600 bikes and will now have a 50% increase of 300 more.   Those 600 bikes yielded 140,000 rides in 4 months.  NYC will start with 10,000 bikes.  Proportionally that would mean 2.3 million rides in the first 4 months if New Yorkers use bikeshare as much as Boston residents. ocschwar thinks NYC will be higher proportionally than Boston – which would be great – even more than 2.3 million rides in the first 4 months!

  • Shemp

    I agree Daphna – I think New York will see at least the 4 to 5 rides/bike/day that Washington and London are getting, which of course would be 40,000 to 50,000 rides per day, or over a million trips per month.  

  • John Pelletier

    Boston proper has not done as much to advance the network as Cambridge or Somerville, in a way Nicole (director Boston Bikes) I think is using the hubway to advocate for better facilities, unlike most places that have been able to get better facilities and them implement a bike share.  Cambridge will be building at least 2 cycletracks along major streets next year, I know Somerville is looking at more and Boston is as well.  I do ride down a parking buffered bike lane to work daily, although the other side has not been converted yet.  However quality of the lanes in Boston is not very good, and that is mostly due to the overall quality of the roads, which is also not so great…

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Trains, Buses, Bikes, and Sandwiches… There Should Be an App For That

|
Earlier today we brought you a story about a new and potentially dangerous technological innovation – Facebook in cars. To help end the week on a higher note, here’s some far more encouraging news on the transportation tech front. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation in issuing a […]

Boston Doctors Now Prescribing Bike-Share Memberships

|
The newest tool for doctors in the fight against obesity? That’s right: Bike-share. This week in Boston, doctors introduced a program called Prescribe-a-Bike, offering low-income residents struggling with obesity an annual Hubway bike sharing membership for the low price of $5. The program is being administered by Boston Medical Center in partnership with the city […]

Why Isn’t Bike-Share Reaching More Low-Income People?

|
Earlier this week, Denver’s B-Cycle bike-share system came under fire for allegedly side-stepping low-income neighborhoods. The accuser was City Council Member Paul Lopez, and his complaint was not something that system operators necessarily deny: There aren’t many stations in low-income neighborhoods. The broader claim — that bike-share isn’t serving the populations that might benefit most […]

Boston to NYC: Bike-Share Will Be Worth It

|
As New York readers know, bike-share stations are hitting the streets after the program encountered a few snags last year. When members start taking the first rides on Citi Bike later this month, it will be the nation’s largest bike-share system, launching with 6,000 bikes. Right now the sight of those new bike stations is […]

Chicago Takes Tentative First Step Toward Bike-Sharing

|
A pilot station for Chicago’s proposed bike-sharing program, on display a couple of weeks ago. Photo: vizcha via Flickr Public bike-sharing is coming to yet another American city.  The concept, first proven in Lyon, France and made famous by Paris’s Vélib, offers members easy access to public bikes at stations across a city. With bike […]