Hubway pedals into Cambridge

Robert Sondak
Spare Change News

After four months of planning, Hubway Boston’s regional bike share program, an alternative transportation system which is both environmental friendly and pollution free, launched service in Cambridge the week of Monday July 30. The opening of five bike stations represents the first wave of Hubway service coming to Cambridge. The five bike stations were designed by Bixi of Montreal and contain 96 bikes for the general public.

Hubway will open 24 bike stations for the public to use, according to the Hubway website. These bike stations will be set up by the beginning of the second week of August. Hubway, a unit of Alta-Bicycle Share, will be fully operational by the end of August, providing a total of 240 bikes.

Cambridge City Manager Robert W. Healy and Mayor Henrietta Davis have been leading the contingent of local officials finalizing plans bringing Hubway to Cambridge. “The city of Cambridge is pleased to add Hubway as an option for our residents, workers and visitors,” Healy said. “We look forward to an increase in cycling throughout our community.”

Mayor Davis also pointed out that people will realize just how easy it is to use Hubway to get around Cambridge.

“Hubway is yet another way residents and visitors to our city can explore and enjoy Cambridge with healthy, car-free transportation.” Davis added.

Susanne Rasmussen, Director of Environmental and Transportation Planning for the city of Cambridge, was interviewed at the Main Post Office directly across from Cambridge City Hall. “The Metropolitan Planning Council provided procurement funding for Hubway,” according to Rasmussen said. Although Boston has a low-income membership program, Cambridge has not created a program as of yet. Rasmuseen believes that a low-income program “sounds good” and suggested, “people should contact the city and express their opinion as a first step in program development.”

Cambridge has created a partnership with MIT and Harvard. Both universities have agreed to contribute a total of nine bike stations to the city Hubway network for 2012.

Harvard University will provide seven bike stations to the Hubway network in Cambridge. These bike stations will be located at a variety of university spots at student dorms and university offices.

Colin B. Durrant, Harvard’s Manager of Sustainability Communications, commented that the university has worked in partnership with the city of Cambridge to bring Hubway to university students. Durrant said Harvard has supported the partnership with the city by paying for the installation of seven Hubway stations at university locations throughout the city.

Durrant stated that he hopes all of the Harvard stations will be operational early in the fall semester.

“We’re hoping they’ll all be installed by the end of September, but there are a variety of factors that go into the timing of installation,” Durrant continued, “We expect the station locations Harvard donated will be part of the system in future years.”

Hubway is based on a Montreal system called BIXI in which bicycle riders use credit cards to release bikes from portable terminals for short trips around the city. Alta Bicycle Share, a Portland, Ore., company that specializes in managing bike share programs runs Hubway from March through November. Other than Hubway, Alta Bike Share operates two other bike share systems in the United States, in Washington D.C., and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Next year Alta Bike Share will open two new bike systems in Chicago and New York City.

Before riding, Hubway requires that must you first purchase access to the system which is usually completed by getting a 24-hour ($5) or 3-day ($12) pass or annual membership ($85). Trips less than 30 minutes time are included for members and all-pass riders. After 30 minutes, usage fees apply. Ridership fees vary depending on the total usage and membership: for example, the 3-day or 24-hour passes accrue fees starting with $2 for 30 to 59 minutes, then $6 for 60 to 89 minutes, $14 for 90 to 119 minutes, and then adding $8 for every additional thirty minute range. Annual members receive reduced fees.

ROBERT SONDAK is a Spare Change News writer/vendor. Robert has a Bachelors Degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston, College of Public and Community Service, (CPCS). Robert also minored in urban planning and advocacy. Currently Robert is the executive director of the Nutrition Education Outreach Project (NEOP), http://neopneopt.blogspot.com.

Robert Sondak is a vendor and a writer for Spare Change News.

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