Residents of Beacon Hill have a new way to get around this spring. April 1 marked the return of the New Balance Hubway bike share system to Boston as well as the opening of a new station on Cambridge Street.
Along with the Cambridge Street kiosk, Hubway has expanded its reach with new stations at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the Seaport Hotel, and downtown.
“That stretch of Cambridge Street is a prime location,” said Brogan Graham, who is responsible for Hubway’s marketing, social media, and corporate sales. “If you look at the map, there’s a big hole on Beacon Hill. It’s an area that we have wanted to be more present in since we launched last July.”
New Balance Hubway first came to Boston last summer under Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s Boston Bikes Program, aimed at making Boston a premier city for cycling. With 600 bicycles at 60 Hubway kiosks around the city, riders can sign up for seasonal memberships or rent a bicycle for “short term cycling” simply by swiping their credit card.
(Photo by Christie Clements)
Last year, Bostonians took advantage of Hubway by taking 142,000 rides, averaging out to 1,150 per day.
Graham credits Nicole Freedman, the recently departed director of Boston Bikes, with making that presence a reality.
“She is the supercharged power out of City Hall that has made the cycling infrastructure of Boston what it is today,” Graham said. Boston “had 50 feet of bike lanes in 2005 and 2006, and now we’ve put in our 50th mile. Boston’s come a long way.”
Freedman expects the Cambridge Street location to fare well this season. “In our analysis, Cambridge Street came up very high in terms of demand for a bike share station,” she said. “We are thrilled that we were able to find such a successful location.”
In its inaugural season, Hubway sold 3,670 memberships and saw a range of riders from daily commuters to tourists and recreational visitors. Hubway’s new locations, including the Cambridge Street spot, are just the beginning of Menino’s vision to develop a cycling network connecting every neighborhood in the city.
“It’s about looking at the map and seeing how it’s all going to lay out,” said Graham. “The transportation system is already there, and we find the gaps that we could help out with.”
Partnering with Toole Design Group, the city aims to develop a Boston Bike Network Plan to lay out a comprehensive blueprint for installation over the next 10 years.
“It’s a huge area for traffic and commuters,” said Graham. “You could come and stand right there on either side of the road at any time of the day, any day of the week, and you’d see cyclists passing.”
“I think [this location] will be one of our more popular in the system,” added Freedman.
Boston Bikes has plans to expand the cycling network into Roxbury, downtown, the Back Bay, Charlestown, Jamaica Plain, and Dorchester. Contracts are being finalized in Cambridge, Brookline, and Somerville.