Hubway set to expand in Dorchester

By 
Brianna Macgregor, Special to the Reporter
Jul. 3, 2013

About 20 new Hubway bike-sharing stations will be rolled out by the end of this summer season, according to Nicole Freedman, director of the Boston Bikes program and former Olympic cyclist. New stations are concentrated in the South Boston area, Jamaica Plain, and Roxbury. Two are set to be built in Dorchester: one in Uphams Corner and another near the intersection of Mass Ave. and Columbia. The precise locations of these stations are still being determined, said Freedman.

Dorchester currently has two Hubway stations at the JFK/UMass MBTA stop and the UMass Boston campus, with another close by at the South Bay Shopping Center. According to Freedman, the new stations will help to establish a solid Hubway base in Dorchester, paving the way for a more integrated bike-sharing system in the neighborhood.

“The [Hubway] system is one that needs density,” she said, explaining that Hubway stations work best when they are about a quarter mile, or a two minute walk, apart. Installation of the new stations is slated to begin in September, and should take only a few weeks.

According to the City of Boston website, Boston bike ridership has doubled since Mayor Menino launched the Boston Bikes initiative in 2007.

“Hubway has the ability to transform and mainstream cycling,” Freedman said. She added that the growth of cycling is good for public health, leading to less pollution and more exercise among Boston residents, and one of the primary reasons that Menino started the Hubway bike program was his sustainability initiative.

To determine where the new stations would go, the Boston Bikes program encouraged locals to submit their location preferences at courbanize.com, an online urban planning tool, and used this feedback to gauge public interest for Hubway stations in different areas.

The Franklin Park Coalition (FPC) has been pushing for Hubway stations in and around the park since 2011.

“The park is pretty inaccessible by public transportation,” said Christine Poff, Executive Director of the FPC, who explained that the park is not near a T stop. Additionally, bus service is often unreliable and primarily runs during rush hour times.

Biking is technically off-limits in city parks - however, the FPC partnered with DotBike, a group of Dorchester biking advocates, to create a proposal that would allow bikes in Franklin Park. The proposal was accepted by the city a few years ago, and Poff believes that this makes Franklin Park the only city park where biking is legal.

Ideally, said Poff, any Hubway stations at Franklin Park would be part of an integrated system around the area. Freedman agreed, saying that the addition of a Hubway station in Franklin Park is a definite possibility for next season, when the area around the park has a more solid base of bike-sharing stations.

“Hubway has been way more successful than anyone anticipated,” said Poff, who added that she would like to see Hubway bikes used for both transportation and recreation around the park. Poff said that she believes the public interest is present - at the park’s annual Kite & Bike Festival, where the city rents out bicycles for free, the demand for bikes is always high.

Philip Lindsay, an advocate for DotBike and long-time Boston bicyclist, said that Dorchester’s heavy use of public transportation would make it a perfect candidate for an extensive bike-sharing system.
“Dorchester deserves what the rest of the city has,” he said.

“We might be riding the wrong way down the street with no helmets,” he said, laughing. “But people here [in Dorchester] are interested in biking.”

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