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Electric Bluebikes could be coming to Boston under Mayor Wu’s budget proposal

The mayor wants to put $1.4 million into electrifying some of the city's public bike fleet.

Lane Turner/Globe Staff
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Boston’s Bluebikes system may get an electrified kick if Mayor Michelle Wu‘s budget proposal gets City Council buy-in.

Included in the mayor’s $4.28 billion operating budget plan unveiled Wednesday is an earmark of $1.4 million to introduce electric bikes into the city’s popular public bike rental fleet.

Wu is also seeking $550,000 to fund $5 Bluebike passes for 10,000 residents, all part of the administration’s plans to make Boston more eco-friendly and to encourage multi-modal transit in the notoriously-congested city.

The bike system, launched in 2015, currently offers more than 4,000 bikes at 400 stations around the Boston area, including in Arlington, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Newton, Revere, Salem, Somerville, and Watertown.


Bluebikes have grown in popularity as their footprint has expanded over the years. During the month-long shutdown of the MBTA’s Orange Line last year, rentals surged to record-breaking ridership numbers.

Ricardo Patrón, a spokesman for Wu, told Boston.com Thursday the electric bikes would be provided through a combination of city and other funding sources the administration has already obtained.

If all goes according to plan, the new bikes would make up more than 15% of the system’s fleet.

“We are looking at a likely rollout of spring 2024, though we will aim to have this completed and available to the public as soon as possible,” Patrón wrote in a text message.

To be clear, electric bikes are not motorcycles or dirt bikes. Rather, e-bikes provide riders with electric-powered pedal assistance. Riders still pedal to move, but with more ease and quicker acceleration than a traditional bike.

Nationally, sales of e-bikes have grown in recent years, and more states have provided financial incentives for purchases. In August, Massachusetts lawmakers passed a law to provide $500 rebates to consumers (and $750 rebates for low-income consumers) for e-bike purchases.

Boston, if plans come to fruition, will not be the first to make e-bikes widely available on its streets, however.


Several major cities have already put e-bikes into their own Bluebike-esque public bike fleets, including New York City, Chicago, and Washington D.C.


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