Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bike-share on tap for Boston

Boston is apparently ready to become the coolest bike city in the country. According to a story on (and scheduled to be published in Sunday's Globe magazine section), Mayor Menino is in the process of setting up a bike-share program somewhat in line with what is done in Paris. Bicycles would be available at racks all around the city -- as well as in places like Cambridge and Somerville -- to those who register for a small yearly fee. I know I'd join.


Eric said...

I really don't see people leaving their cars for bicycles, and as long as cars and bicycles have to battle for space, I don't see this working for casual users. I'm also not going to schlep a helmet around with me in case I want to rent a bike, and I wouldn't ride a bike without one.

Maybe I'm just a naysayer. But I much prefer the T and walking.

Anonymous said...

I agree with much of what Eric wrote, however I will use it. I like to go into Boston very early on weekend mornings to take photographs, basically an hour before and after sunrise. This share-a-bike program will allow me the opportunity to get to more places in that time frame. Would I use it in downtown Boston traffic on a Saturday afternoon? Scary scenario, I think I would rather walk.

I applaud the mayor for trying this. We should see how it goes. I think however for some people it’s going to lead to the emergency rooms of our many fine hospitals.

N.starluna said...

Someone started a share bike program at Northeastern. The students really liked it. I can't see myself using it but I think it is a good idea. It should be coupled with some other efforts to make it safer for people to bike in the city. Perhaps bike lanes that are separated from car traffic like they have in other cities.

Mary B. said...

I think it will be difficult for Boston to replicate what other cities have done. There is a smaller footprint here for the width of roads. Visiting Chicago and Cleveland many times over the past year, I am struck by the differences between those cities and Boston. City planners in other areas have the luxury of more space with which to create new urban designs, e.g., dedicated bike lanes. The idea of more bike traffic sounds good, but I have a sense that there will be many collisions with other bikes, with cars, with taxis, with many conveyances in such confined spaces. One only has to watch how bikers maneuver themselves through traffic on Congress Street to understand the inherent problems. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Let's give it a try.

N.starluna said...

I'm not sure size has anything to do with it. Many older European cities have size constraints similar to or worse than Boston but have managed to support multiple modes of transportation, including public transit. In fact, many of these cities have done what US cities are loathe to do: prioritize pedestrians and bikers and de-prioritize the car in their transportation policies.

It's not the width of the roads that matter so much as the policy and cultural priority of car drivers rather than the safety of people on bikes or walking.

Anonymous said...

I hate driving. I get no pleasure out of getting in my car. I hope we can change the automobile culture; which by the way was pushed by the car industry through lobbying the government many years ago. I support new mass transit over new highways. I support planes, trains, scooters, bikes, Zipcars, “The Ride,” anything to get us out of this mental block we have that “our automobile” is our only option.

Families now have 2, 3, or more cars waiting to make that trip around the block to the drug store to pick up the diabetes or blood pressure medication that they have to take because they don’t get enough exercise.

I’m not sure that putting bike decals on Bennington Street and calling it a bike path is doing the right thing. It may get people hurt or killed. If we want to get serious about this than eliminate parking on Bennington Street and make the parking lanes safe bike lanes. We should strategically close down certain streets to traffic in Boston so we can bike safely from the North End to the Fenway. Charge drivers$15.00 to go through the tunnels or over the bridge. The city should impose a 100% surcharge on parking in Boston and put that money towards alternative transportation. That would make a trip into Boston including parking about $100.00 per day. That would get people’s attention. Unfortunately we have the political will to paint decals on streets but not to make the difficult substantive changes we need.

I know, I know, if a politician suggested any of these ideas they’d be run out of town on a rail.