This July saw the launching of Hubway in Boston, a bicycle-sharing system with kiosks of rentable bicycles set up throughout the city. It’s one of many ways Boston has sought to correct its not-so-stellar biking reputation, including its three-time ranking as one of the worst cycling cities in North America by Bicycling magazine.
“A bike share will help us reach Boston’s mainstream,” says Nicole Freedman, an urban planner and former Olympic cyclist known locally as Boston’s Bike Czar. For $85 a year, members can borrow one of Hubway’s 600 bicycles, and return it to any of 61 kiosk locations. Designed for one-way commutes, trips below 30 minutes are free with membership, while longer trips incur a surcharge. “A bike share has the power to change the face of cyclists in the city,” Freedman adds. “We’ll all be ‘bikers,’ as opposed to ‘cyclists’ and ‘non-cyclists.’” She says they expect 333,000 trips using the bike share in Hubway’s first year—with “20% of those replacing trips by car.”
Freedman was appointed in 2007 by Mayor Thomas Menino to oversee “Boston Bikes,” an initiative seeking to make Boston a “world-class” cycling city. Four years into the program, 33 miles of bike lanes have been added to Boston roads, along with 1,500 bike parking racks. Since 2007, bike ridership in Boston has doubled, says Freedman. Bicycling has since re-labeled Boston as one of the nation’s “Future Best” cycling cities.