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Hubway Is Dead Long Live Blue Bikes

Written by Boston Biker on Mar 08

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts will pay nearly $20 million to turn the Boston area’s Hubway bike share system into Blue Bikes and expand the program with more than 1,000 new bikes and more than 100 new rental stations across the region.

“Blue Cross is committed to helping Massachusetts residents lead healthy lives, and this program is a way to bring that to life,” said Jeff Bellows, vice-president of corporate citizenship for BCBS. “Being a health-care company, it’s in line with what we want to do.”

BCBS will pay $18 million over six years to be the sole sponsor of the bike share system, which will be renamed Blue Bikes. The money will be used in part to fund a nearly 50 percent increase in bikes — by the end of 2019, there will be 3,000 Blue Bikes on the streets, up from 1,800 today — and add more than 100 new stations across Boston, Cambridge, Brookline and Somerville. The expansion will bring more service to underserved parts of the city, Bellows said.

“Communities like Mattapan, Dorchester, Roxbury, they’re going to get additional access to these bikes,” he said. (via)

While I wish it was more of a public system, maybe tax based, but sure I will siphon off some of the obscene profits BCBS is making to fund bike share programs.

The best part of this is that Hubway/Blue Bikes will continue, and it will expand into areas that have not been served by it so far.

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Bixi Files For Bankruptcy

Written by Boston Biker on Jan 20

Bixi the company that runs the bike share in Montreal filed for bankruptcy.  They have ties to the Alta “family” of bike share companies the company that runs Hubway.  It looks like the system will continue in Montreal, but that it will be a public utility, rather than a private company.

Bixi was not supposed to cost them a cent but Montreal taxpayers could be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars, the city admitted Monday.

The bike-sharing service’s debt is almost $50 million.

Citing Bixi’s “grim financial portrait,” Mayor Denis Coderre announced he had forced the city-controlled non-profit company to enter bankruptcy protection.

Though he wants Bixi out of the international bike-sharing business, Coderre said he would like to see Bixi continue to roll in Montreal.

“We will have Bixi in Montreal this summer,” he said, noting many users have purchased memberships. Keeping Bixi operating in the city in 2014 could cost taxpayers a further $1.5 million.

Coderre was less definitive about whether Montrealers will have access to bike-sharing beyond 2014.

Bixi is unable to neither “meet its financial obligations nor find a viable short-term solution,” Coderre said. That was causing “uncertainty regarding the possible recovery of the sums injected by the city.”

Bixi owes the city $31.6 million on a $37-million city loan. Montreal also guaranteed a line of credit on which Bixi owes $6.4 million.

That means Montreal taxpayers could be stuck with a $38-million bill, though the city hopes a sale of the international part of the business will cut that amount.

Bixi also owes its suppliers $9 million.

In total, then, Bixi’s total debt is at least $47 million.

Bixi is also embroiled in multimillion-dollar lawsuits with a former software supplier. (via)

It would seem that the American side of the company is unaffected, and that it might even be sold off to balance some of the debts, but we will have to wait and see if there is any fall out from this news here in Boston.  Judging from the article above, it looks like their big mistake was expanding into the American market.

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The Growth Of Biking, And Bike Share

Written by Boston Biker on Dec 12

NPR had a great story today about the growth, and challenges of biking, and bike share programs.

Listen here, or here:

Here is a taste:

Millions of commuters across the country have a new way to get around. In the last few years, bike-sharing systems have popped up from Boston to Minnesota to Washington, D.C. They’re supposed to make commuting easier, greener and cheaper. But the people who arguably need these bikes the most are often the least likely to access them.

These bike-sharing systems have a lot of different names: Divvy, Hubway, Nice Ride. But they all work roughly the same way: you pick up a bike at one docking station, ride it and then lock it up at another station. And these systems have something else in common: the users so far tend to be young, male and wealthier than the rest of the population.

“The rates of low-income ridership in all bike-share programs around the world is pitifully low. So we can only do better,” Carolyn Samponaro of the Transportation Alternatives in New York, said. The Citi Bike system launched in New York earlier this year.

Samponaro and I met up at a docking station near a big public housing project in Brooklyn. It’s right across the street from a busy bike lane, and about two blocks from the foot of the Manhattan Bridge — in other words, a prime spot for bike commuting. But the docking station just sits there, full of bikes, waiting for riders. Samponaro said this unfortunately fits with the data so far.

“The rates of low-income ridership in all bike-share programs around the world is pitifully low. So we can only do better.”
“The demographic information I’ve seen to date is that it’s more men than women. And only 0.5 percent are low-income New Yorkers,” said Samponaro, who considers that a pretty poor rating.

Read the rest here.

What most excites me about this is that these programs are driving a change in thinking about how we build transportation systems. Bike share systems are perfect for people who need to save money, or get in shape. They are human scale designs. Almost everyone can ride a bike.

Sadly bike share systems seem to currently be focused on the affluent, they are in the business of making money, and currently rich people ride bikes more. This is can also be a good thing in the long run. It used to be that if you were rich you owned a car, if we shift this thinking to be “if you are rich you ride a bike” many more people will aspire to ride, and unlike the dream of car ownership, many more people will actually be able to achieve the dream of owning or riding a bicycle.

You can’t democratize a luxury like a car. Just look at the mess it has caused. Its destroying our planet, embroiling us in decades of wars, ruining our health, killing our populace, enabling horrible city design, and in general has been a failure. The same can not be said for the bicycle. If everyone in the world used a bicycle as their main mode of transportation it would prompt us to be healthy, to design our cities better, to use public transportation like trains for long distance travel, to be much more gentle on the environment, and we would have a radically different foreign policy. In short bicycles are not a luxury, they are a the foundation of a solid transportation system.

More bikes! More bike share systems! More access to these systems for the poor!

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Hubway, Hubway, Hubway

Written by Boston Biker on Oct 13

Everyone knows there are rules to cycling. Whenever you see a couple of people on a tandem, you are forced to scream “WOOOO! TANDEM!” and wave at them, Whenever someone is hailing a cab on the side of the road you should give them a high five, and now whenever you see more than three people on Hubway bikes, you have say “hubway hubway hubway hubway…” until they pass. Sorry I don’t make the rules, I just report on them.

I was guardedly excited about Hubway when it was first proposed, and I now hear that it is absolutely killing its goals for the year.

In a rate of usage that has surpassed even the most optimistic estimates, the city’s 10-week-old program turned it’s 100,000th ride over the weekend. Credit the weather for giving Hubway it’s two busiest days to date. Beautiful, wasn’t it?

Here’s the stats behind the early success, as provided by Boston’s bike czar Nicole Freedman:

Average ride: 1.13 miles
Total miles: 115,260 miles
Earth’s circumference at the equator: 24,901 miles

By residence: 48 percent from out-of-town
By gender: 32 percent female
By occupation: 11 percent are students; 80 percent work in Boston
By bike ownership: 50 percent don’t own a bike in working condition

With success like this its clear that the program will be expanded and built up even more. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more bike infrastructure following in the wake of more stations.


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NYC Is Jacking Our Bike Share Style!

Written by Boston Biker on Sep 14

Seems NYC is jelly of our bike share system, in typical “city that never sleeps” fashion they are going to cover up their shortcoming by going bigger and better with their bike share system.

Comprising roughly 600 stations with 10,000 bikes, the scheme will, according to two people briefed on the plans, stretch from the Upper East and Upper West sides down to the tip of Manhattan and over the bridges into Brownstone Brooklyn, reaching as far as Greenpoint and Crown Heights. “The whole point is it needs to be dense,” a city official told The Observer. “It needs to serve a lot of different trips in order to be viable.”

The city has selected Alta Bike Share of Portland, Ore., to install and manage the system in a public-private partnership. The firm launched the popular Capital Bike Share in Washington, D.C. last year, which was expanded again this year, and this summer it opened the New Balance Hubway in Boston. With 110 and 61 stations respectively, both are considerably smaller than New York’s planned roll-out. Capital Bike Share is currently the largest such program in the country.


Either way, good to see Boston leading the way (or at least getting in before NYC).

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The Word On The Street

  • RSS Here is what people are saying

    • Pewter Cast “Gem” Earrings March 9, 2018
      Carved, cast and made these pewter (lead free) “gem” earrings.  They have a lovely faceted surface that catches the light and has a lot of depth and interesting texture.  My first real effort at making my own beads.  If you lik... Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Silver “Rock” Earrings March 9, 2018
        I carved and cast these silver “rock” earrings for my partner. The hardest part was getting those little jump rings soldered to the top of the “rock” without melting them or the rock…but I did it and she loved them. Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Hubway Is Dead Long Live Blue Bikes March 8, 2018
      TweetBlue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts will pay nearly $20 million to turn the Boston area’s Hubway bike share system into Blue Bikes and expand the program with more than 1,000 new bikes and more than 100 new rental stations … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Very Complicated Tribal Wolf Vinyl Decal February 22, 2018
      You ever just do something to see if you can?  That’s what this vinyl decal was about. Just wanted to see how complicated a decal I could cut out, as well as how patient I could be while weeding it. Designed and put into great cut. Starting the cutting process It took a long time… […]
      Boston Biker
    • Quincy Is Co-Hosting Traffic Skills Cycling Course With MassBike February 8, 2018
      TweetFrom the email: Hello Quincyclists, I would like to announce that Quincy is co-hosting a League of American Bicyclists’ Smart Cycling Traffic Skills 101 class on April 7 and 8. Please join us! Register here: This Traffic Skills 101 Cycling … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Last all To Submit Comments For Allston I-90 DEIR February 7, 2018
      TweetFrom Livable Streets: Are you willing to wait 22 years for your train to show up? Now is the time to let state leaders know that we can’t afford to wait. The Allston I-90 Interchange project can transform access and mobility for … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Hubway Winter Update February 2, 2018
      TweetFrom Hubway:   Hubway had a winning January! This past month, Hubway riders took over 40,000 trips, more than double the January record. Want to try out winter riding? You don’t need to be tough — you just need to be … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Speak Up For Zoning Reform In MA! February 1, 2018
      TweetFrom Livable Streets: Did you know that the last time Massachusetts updated its zoning laws was in 1975? We need your help today to ensure that our future includes responsible planning for great neighborhoods! Contact Massachusetts legislators and let them know that we … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • My e-mail in support of West Station January 31, 2018
      TweetAlexander Strysky is the reviewer for the Massashusetts Environmental Protection Agency reviewer for the I-90 Interchange project in Allston. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has backed off from plans for prompt construction of  anew West Station on the Framingham-Worcester commuter-rail … Continue reading →
    • My letter to the Globe about the Kurmann fatality January 31, 2018
      TweetI’ve read the Op-Ed piece by Andrew Fischer and Alan Wright, “Killing Bicyclists should be a crime” in the Sunday, January 28 Globe. I agree with Wright and Fischer that a charge of involuntary manslaughter against the trucker in the … Continue reading →