Bike sharing system set to expand into Dorchester

By 
Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor
May. 16, 2012

The bike-renting program known as Hubway will be expanding into Dorchester late this summer, with stations planned at the JFK/UMass MBTA stop, UMass Boston, and the South Bay Shopping Plaza. If the plan for a Hubway station at JFK/UMass comes to fruition, it will be the first on the transit authority’s property, city officials say.

Overall, city officials are considering 20 to 25 locations as sites for Hubway stations with eleven stations activated by summer’ end, according to Kristopher Carter, interim czar of the city program Boston Bikes.

The Hubway system operates three seasons a year, and launched its second season in Boston in April. With 61 locations now available for renting a bike, additional sites are being planned for the Seaport Hotel, Cambridge Street, and the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, according to the mayor’s office.

“We plan to continue growing the system,” said Carter, who replaced Nicole Freedman after she left earlier this year for a job in Maine.

The funding for the bike program, part of Mayor Thomas Menino’s efforts to soften Boston’s image as a city unfriendly to bikes, comes from a combination of sponsorships of some of the stations, grants, and federal transit funds.

A number of stations are in the Roxbury area, including near the Ruggles MBTA Station, Dudley Square, Roxbury Crossing, Boston Medical Center, and Washington and Lenox streets.

In an electronic survey sent this week to some Dorchester residents and activists, the Boston Public Health Commission’s chronic disease prevention and control division said it was collecting input on future potential bike-sharing stations in Dorchester.

The survey raised the prospect of additional stations in Uphams Corner, the Andrew Square MBTA Station, and the corner of Columbia Road and Massachusetts Avenue. Survey-takers were encouraged to rank and consider each potential station’s connectivity to Roxbury bike-sharing outposts, foot and transit traffic in the area, availability of bike lanes, and the popularity of the destination.

“It’s still very conceptual at this point,” Carter said.

When the bike-sharing program will come to Mattapan is an open question. “I know Mattapan residents have wanted it to come,” said Vivien Morris, who oversees the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition. “This is a community that heavily supports and utilizes public transportation.”

But she said she was encouraged by the expansion into Dorchester, and hoped a Hubway bike rack in Mattapan isn’t far behind. “That can only help us as well,” Morris said.

When asked about a timeline for a Mattapan Hubway station, Carter said, “It’s hard to say. We obviously understand the pull on neighborhoods that depend on public transportation.”

The Hubway system has to grow outwards from its downtown core, which limits how fast it can expand, he said. Hubway did not return a request for comment on the expansion.

State Rep. Russell Holmes, a Mattapan Democrat, said the way to find out where the bike-sharing stations are needed is by putting them in Four Corners and Uphams Corner.

“For me, it should all be supply and demand,” he said.

Tags: