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Bike-Sharing System Coming to Boston

All neighborhoods of Boston to share 600 bicycles through 61 bike stations, with hopes of expanding it to Brookline, Somerville and Cambridge.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino announced a new bicycle-sharing program today that will allow users to rent bikes at 61 stations throughout every Boston neighborhood and return them at stations in other neighborhoods. 

Starting this summer, the new program called New Balance Hubway, due to New Balance's sponsorship, will set up locations in Kenmore Square, Roxbury, the South End, the Longwood Medical area, Allston, Brighton, and the Back Bay area.

State officials are expectantly hopeful that the program will become regional, and at full size could reach as many as 5,000 bikes across Cambridge, Brookline and Somerville.

Renters will use swipe cards to use Hubway bicycles with costs of $5 per day, and free trips that are 30 minutes or shorter. There will be $85 annual memberships. Users will rent bikes from one station and return them at another across the city, with about 10 bikes available at each station.

West Roxbury will also receive at least one station, if not more, and city officials are looking into having rentable bikes at MBTA stations. Neighborhood business districts, like Centre Street, are also expected to receive stations.

Menino announced the signing of the contract today with Alta Bicycle Share, a Portland, Oregon company. The system will be state-of-the-art, third generation, solar-powered, automated and was developed by Public Bike System Company, which runs a bike share program in Montreal.

“Over the past four years, we have taken great strides toward making Boston a city that welcomes and encourages bicycling but this innovative bike share system may be the most significant step yet,” said Menino. “We have worked tirelessly to build the infrastructure necessary to support such a system and we are confident that there is no better time to make Hubway a reality. We have had the goal of going from worst to first, and with Hubway we’re nearly there."

Menino thanked Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown, as well as Congressmen Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch, "for their dedicated hard work in helping to secure crucial grant funding to make such an important project possible.”

Kerry was on hand and said, “Biking is becoming a bigger part of urban transportation every day, and Boston has led the way incorporating bikes into the city. Now with this new bike share program, we’re on track to remain one of the most bike-friendly cities in the nation.”

Similar bicycling systems are located in Washington D.C., Montreal, London and Melbourne. 

Officials began planning Hubway in 2008 and received substantial assistance from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), the FTA, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), according to a city press release.

“Bike Share will transform the region,” said Marc Draisen, executive director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. “It's a completely new part of our transportation network, giving people a green and healthy way to get around, closing gaps in the MBTA, and providing the first and last mile connection that often prevents people from using transit. We're excited to see Boston, Cambridge, Brookline, and Somerville working together to make Bike Share happen.”

Hubway is funded by grants totaling $4.5 million, including $3 million from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), $450,000 from the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) and $250,000 from the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant program.

Station sponsorships, a separate advertising program, income generated by memberships, and one time payments by users are expected to cover annual operating costs for Hubway. 

Currently, there are 11 sponsors kicking in $1.5 million during the next three years including more than $600,000 from New Balance, and Boston Bikes will continually seek more. According to Boston city official, as part of its sponsorship, New Balance retains naming rights of the system. 

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