Fourth Season Begins for Boston’s Hubway Bike Share Program

hubway-200.jpgHubway, Boston’s popular bike share program, launched its fourth season earlier this month. Four years shows a lot of ground covered for the program.

Hubway was launched on July 28, 2011, as a partnership between the City of Boston and Alta Bicycle Share, with 600 bikes at 60 rental stations. The program has been a big success and this season, riders will share 1,300 bikes at 140 bike rental stations in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline. The program hit the 1,500,000-rider mark last Thanksgiving, then closed out 2013 with nearly 10,000 annual subscribers (and that’s not counting the short-term memberships).

In the past, Boston split both operating costs and profits with Alta Bicycle Share. Boston paid for its share using private sponsorships and public grant money.

But Boston is now venturing out on its own. Under a new contract, Boston will fund all operating costs and pay Alta Bicycle Share for services. The city will buy all services for a lower rate, about 30 percent less. For each bike dock, this translates into about $70 per month for maintenance and operations. This is lower than other U.S. programs, such as the Capital Bikeshare in Washington D.C., which pays $111 per bike dock.

This is good news and comes at a time when other cities are struggling to pay the bills for their bike shares. Montreal’s bike-share program filed for bankruptcy in January and New York City’s bike program recently asked officials for millions of dollars in aid.

In addition to seeking public grants and private sponsorship, Boston has kept costs down by closing bike racks for the winter. However, this past winter, Cambridge sites were kept open as a pilot test program.

What is new with Hubway this season:

Cambridge. The city kept Hubway racks open throughout this winter, as part of a pilot program. The system saw an average of 2,000 Hubway trips per week, with no injuries or incidents reported. Six new stations are expected to open this season.

Boston. Ten new Hubway stations are expected in Jamaica Plain and Dorchester this year.

Boston bike helmets. The program asks all riders to agree to wear helmets in their rental contract and has partnered with city businesses to offer subsidized helmets in the past. Last fall, it tested the first bike helmet vending machine in Back Bay, on the corners of Boylston and Massachusetts Avenue. The vending machine holds three dozen helmets and accepts returns.

Bike helmets are required for cyclists age 16 and under in Massachusetts. In addition to requiring use for Hubway cyclists, Boston city officials have discussed the possibility of passing a local law mandating use by all cyclists to protect riders from the risk of long-term head injuries in bicycle accidents.

Brookline. The city will re-open the same four stations in Coolidge Corner, Washington Square and Brookline Village.

Somerville. Somerville will open 12 stations this year. One change is the Ball Square station will be moved to Magoun Square.
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Bicycle Helmet Vending Machines Coming to Boston

bike_hubway.jpgSafety is about to get more convenient for Boston cyclists. The City of Boston is bringing bike helmet vending machines here later this month.

Boston is the first U.S. city to offer this service and the goal is aimed largely at helping riders of the Hubway bike share program. The city, in partnership with Alta Bicycle Share, launched Hubway in 2011. Today, there are more than 1,000 rental bikes in Boston and also Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline.

The first bike helmet vending machine will open Aug. 26 at a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. It will be attached to a Hubway bike station. Other vending machines will be installed in additional areas.

How Will It Work?
Cyclists will be able to purchase or rent the bike helmets. Cyclists can either buy a helmet or pay $2 to rent a helmet for up to 24 hours (pricing is still being finalized). After that, their credit card will be charged to buy the helmet for about $20 (pricing is still being finalized there too). When helmets are returned, they will be taken to a warehouse for inspection and cleaned before going back into the machines. The helmets were designed by HelmetHub, formed by a group of MIT students as a class project.

Next Step a Boston Bike Helmet Law?
Massachusetts only requires cyclists who are 16 years old or younger to wear bike helmets. But in many areas, they are encouraged for all riders as protection against head injury.

One study reported 80 percent of bike share riders in Boston are not wearing helmets. The study by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center researchers reported the same figure for Washington D.C. Riders who owned their own bikes wore helmets about half the time.

The City of Boston has worked to encourage bike helmet use by subsidizing helmets for $7.99 and making them available at stores throughout the city. City officials announced a few months ago that their long-term goal is to pass a bike helmet law for Boston, which would require cyclists of all ages to wear helmets in the city.

Our Bike Helmet Donations for Children
The Boston bicycle accident lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 90 years combined experience representing injured cyclists. We are proud supporters of the Boston cycling community. In 2013, we donated 1,000 bike helmets to children through programs such as Mayor Menino’s Boston Bikes Roll It Forward, CYCLE Kids of Cambridge, the Somerville Kiwanis Club and Winter Hill Community School and the Dedham Bike Rodeo.

If you have been injured in a cycling accident, it is important to learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

Boston’s Hubway Bike Share Expanding into Cambridge

hubway-200.jpgBoston’s Hubway bike share program is about to push beyond city limits, with an expansion over the Charles River into Cambridge and other communities starting as early as this week.

The Boston Globe reports the first of 24 new bike kiosks may start arriving in Cambridge this week and should operational by the second week in August. Somerville is slated to receive 12 stations with four planned in Brookline. The city of Boston launched the program in the summer of 2011. It now has 600 bikes for 61 stations and will add 11 new stations. With the expansion, the Boston region will have more than 1,000 public bikes available, The Boston Herald reported.

In Cambridge and Somerville, bike stations will be added at major squares and areas in between. In Brookline, new stations are coming to Coolidge Corner, Town Hall and the Brookline Village MBTA stop.

In Boston, new stations will be placed in Allston, Charlestown, Dorchester and Roxbury. Next year, Hubway may expand into Jamaica Plain, as well as Newton and Arlington, officials told The Boston Herald.

The expansion comes after a first year in which Hubway exceeded all expectations. It has seen twice as many trips and paid subscribers as planned. Over 360,000 individual bike trips have been taken since its start and this summer, tourists and commuters are taking about 2,000 bike trips per day.

The program is operated by Alta Bicycle Share in partnership with Boston Bikes, an initiative of the City of Boston. It is partially funded by the Federal Transit Administration. Outside Boston, each community and Alta Bicycle Share work together on securing grants and sponsorships to fund each bike station, which can cost $50,000.

The program offers Annual Membership for three seasons, which can be purchased online for $85. These members receive a key to unlock bikes for use. Rides under 30 minutes are covered under the membership fee; longer rides incur additional fees. Others can purchase short-term Access Passes for 24 hours or three days.

The Hubway reported few bike accidents resulting in injury during its first year. The program reported no bike accidents requiring ambulance response and only two bike accidents overall. The program’s contract requires riders to wear helmets to protect themselves in bike accidents. It encourages this by making helmets available for purchase when you buy a membership. It also has a network of retailers throughout the city who offer discounted memberships.


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Boston Welcomes New Bike Share Program

Boston has a new bicycle sharing program, implemented on July 28th, and it is off to a great start. The program, which is known as Hubway, stations bicycles throughout the city at terminals. You can rent a bike for a short period of time, or become a member and have a year of privileges.

Nicole Freedman and David White at the Government Center Hubway Station in Boston

Hubway is another step in making Boston a bicycle-friendly city. The city, under the inspiration of Mayor Menino and with the guidance of Olympic cyclist and Bicycle Program Director Nicole Freedman (shown at right with David White, at the Government Center Hubway Station), has expanded its bicycle lanes and its bicycle parking, and it now has added convenient bicycle rentals. 

Hubway deploys 600 bicycles at around fifty stations around the city. A bike can be picked up at one station and parked at another, making the program convenient for commuters, students, and tourists. There is even an phone application called Spotcyle which gives up-to-the-minute data on which terminals have bikes or available parking docks.

David White, one of the attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck, called these efforts “great steps to making Boston a safer place to ride your bicycle.” The program will also reduce pollution and promote fitness.

White explained, “Cycling becomes much safer as motorists become more aware of bicycles sharing the roadways. Populating the city with hundreds more bicycles will actually increase safety for all bicyclists.”

Hubway also promotes safe cycling by urging cyclists to always wear a bicycle helmet, and to always observe traffic laws, which apply equally to bicyclists. 

White urges Boston cyclists to observe Massachusetts bicycle laws (read more here). He also urges cyclists to check their automobile insurance policies to make sure they have adequate uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, which provides protection if there is a bicycle accident (read more here). 

Congratulations to the City of Boston and Hubway!