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Brookline sets wheels in motion on bicycle sharing program

Posted by Brock Parker  June 28, 2011 09:43 PM

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Brookline’s interest in joining a regional bicycle program with Boston kicked into another gear Tuesday.

Selectmen voted unanimously in favor of instructing town officials to begin discussing a contract with Alta Bicycle Share of Portland, Ore., to manage the regional bike sharing program, known as Hubway, in Brookline.

Boston is expected to launch Hubway in July, and Jeff Levine, Brookline’s Director of Planning and Community Development, said the town is hoping to launch its participation in the spring of 2012.

Hubway will allow users to borrow bicycles for short trips and return them at any docking station in the regional network. Boston is planning to have 61 bicycle docking stations for about 600 bicycles in the city, and Cambridge and Somerville are also working on joining the regional program.

In Brookline, a report by a Selectmen-appointed Bicycle Sharing Committee is recommending the town locate its first bicycle docks for the Hubway program in Coolidge Corner near the outbound Green Line T platform and in Brookline Village behind 10 Brookline Place.

The bicycle docking stations would each be stocked with 10 bicycles and could hold almost 20, Levine said. The cost of bringing the program to Brookline would be about $194,000 over the first three years.

Levine said the town will use grant funding to cover most of the cost and officials hope to raise the balance, about $38,000, through private donations so the actual cost to the town will be little or nothing for the first three years. With the Selectmen’s vote Tuesday, Levine said the town will begin efforts to raise money for the program in earnest.

But Levine said the hope is that revenue sharing from Hubway will also help pay for the program eventually.

Levine told Selectmen Tuesday that users of Hubway can pay $5 for a 24-hour membership, $12 for a three-day membership, or about $88 for an annual membership. With a membership, bicycles can be used for up to a half hour, but additional charges will be applied after 30 minutes.

Levine said the bicycle sharing program could lead to a reduction in automobile trips in the town, improve the public health and improve air quality.

Selectwoman Jesse Mermell, who chaired the Bicycle Sharing Committee, said the members are very excited about the program and tested one of the bicycles inside Brookline Town Hall.

She said the Committee would like the town to be one of the first to join Hubway.
“We’d like to get in on the ground floor,” she said.

--brock.globe@gmail.com

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