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Hubway expands to Brookline, Somerville, Cambridge

Posted by Laura Franzini  August 8, 2012 01:02 PM

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Laura E. Franzini/Globe Correspondent

One of Cambridge's new Hubway stations across the street from City Hall in Central Square.

Hubway stations were unveiled in Brookline, Somerville, and Cambridge this morning, officially expanding the bike-share system into the Boston suburbs. Two new Boston stations were also added.

Hubway’s “Rolling Launch Party” gathered in Central Square at 11 a.m., after ribbon cuttings at Brookline Town Hall and Somerville Town Hall. City and department officials and riders met in front of the post office to hear remarks from Cambridge mayor Henrietta Davis and delegates from Boston and the several organizations involved in Hubway’s expansion.

Davis acknowledged the immediate success of Cambridge’s week-old stations, and said that the system offered a healthy, environmentally friendly transportation option for both local commuters and visitors to the greater Boston area.

“Thanks to the people of Cambridge who said ‘Make it happen! Make it happen now!’” Davis said.

Once the expansion is complete, Cambridge will have a total of 24 stations; Somerville will have 12; Brookline hopes to have four; and Boston will get an additional 11 stations, bringing its total count to 72, according to a press release from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. Executive director Marc Draisen said that MAPC has been involved in meetings to discuss bringing Hubway stations to Newton, Arlington, Watertown, Winthrop, and Quincy, as well.

“That will take several years,” Draisen said. Once a community decides they want to install Hubway stations, it takes about a year to settle on contracts and then build a network of stations so that those farther out are not isolated, he said. It took a year for the Brookline, Somerville, and Cambridge stations to open after Hubway’s Boston debut.

“We always conceived it to be a regional system,” Draisen told the crowd, crossing municipality lines and giving riders an unlimited biking region.

“Riders have to be able to go wherever they have to be throughout the day,” he said, which means getting the various cities and towns around Boston Hubway stations of their own. This involves the work of several departments and organizations; to get Cambridge online, Draisen worked with City Council members, State Senator Sal DiDomenico, the Federal Transportation Authority’s regional administrator Mary Beth Mello, Hubway’s general manager Scott Mullen, and representatives from MassDOT, Harvard University, and MIT, who all were on hand in Cambridge this morning.

“We’re all in it together,” Davis said, “and that makes a huge difference.”

Daniel Baronofsky was as thrilled as everyone else to have the new stations in Cambridge. A recent Northeastern graduate and member of the Cambridge Bike Committee, Baronofsky started bike riding after the first Hubway stations were installed in Boston in late July 2011.

“After my first year, I’ve logged 149 rides or something,” he said. Since he did not know how to take care of a bike and did not want to worry about it getting stolen, Baronofsky said the Hubway system seemed like “a pretty good idea” for him.

And it has apparently been a good idea for a lot of people; Boston Transportation Commissioner Tom Tinlin said that as he was speaking this morning, someone in Boston was taking the 400,000 trip on Hubway.

Cambridge postmaster Kathy Lydon also unveiled one of four new stamp designs representing the city's love of biking.

To continue celebrating the expansion after the events in Brookline, Somerville, and Cambridge, riders climbed on their bikes in Central Square and rode to Harvard Square for a lunch sponsored by Harvard University and the Harvard Square Business Association.

In Chinatown and Dorchester, Boston Bikes will be handing out free helmets in celebration of “High Fives and Helmets” this afternoon. There is also a social media contest going on today for a free Hubway membership.

Laura Franzini can be reached at laura.franzini@globe.com.

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