Last month, the City of Everett announced it was joining the Bluebikes regional bike share. This was welcome news for commuters, especially Everett residents who travel into Somerville, Cambridge and Boston. Everett will become the first Massachusetts community to offer both the Bluebikes and dockless bikes.
Everett is also the first community to join the metro-Boston bike share in at least five years. The City of Boston first brought the program – then called Hubway – to the region in July 2011. It began with a fleet of 600 bikes parked at 60 stations within the city of Boston.
Shortly thereafter, Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline joined, and the number of bike stations has steadily grown. But the cost of the bike stations has been an obstacle to development beyond these communities. Many communities have a strong interest in bike share programs, though, and have turned their attention to dockless programs where bikes can be locked down wherever the cyclist feels like stopping.
More than 15 Massachusetts communities have brought in dockless LimeBikes, including Everett. The city hopes to fund as many as 11 Bluebikes stations in 2019, and still offer dockless bikes, as part of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) system.
Other cities participating in the MAPC contract with LimeBike include Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Chelsea, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Milton, Needham, Newton, Revere, Waltham, Watertown and Winthrop. Quincy also began offering LimeBikes in 2018 after another vendor didn’t work out.
When the Bluebikes arrive, Everett will sit in a unique position. In 2018, Lyft purchased Motivate and its contracts operating regional bike systems in several major cities, including Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline. That contract prohibits these communities from working with other competing bike shares. Everett officials negotiated an exception so they could continue offering dockless bike rentals along with Bluebikes.
Everett officials say the two bike systems will support cyclists with different needs. The Bluebikes will improve Everett’s access with Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline, allowing commuters to start and end their ride closer to home. But Everett will continue to enjoy being part of the LimeBikes system, which includes neighboring Chelsea, Malden and Revere.
Everett will fund the BlueBikes stations with development mitigation funds from construction of new Encore Boston Harbor casino. Two stations will be located at the casino.
Expect a year of growth from BlueBikes. In addition to Everett’s plans, Blue Cross Blue Shield – which became the title sponsor last year – wants to build the network to more than 3,000 bikes and 300 stations within the five communities.
Bike Share Programs Across the Country
Massachusetts has been debating dockless bikes and fixed stations for the past few years. Other states have been engaged in similar discussions. Either way, there are a lot of positives that come from putting more people on bikes – reducing the number of cars on the road and encouraging exercise are just two.
Dockless bike companies have moved into communities across the country. Yet given a choice, commuters are still choosing station-based bikes over dockless by leaps and bounds. According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, the number of bike share bikes more than doubled in 2017, from 42,500 bikes to about 100,000 bikes. This was fueled largely by the dockless bike push. Yet that same year, just 4 percent of all bike share trips were taken on dockless bikes.
The next Hub of cycling? Everett, The Boston Globe
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