Rave Reviews for Bike-Shares in Boston, Washington

Capital Bikeshare riders in Washington, D.C.

When New York City launches a bike-sharing system next year, it will revolutionize the way people get around in the city. If the experience of other cities in the Northeast is any indication, residents, workers, and visitors have a lot to look forward to.

A few hours to the north, the Boston Globe reports that the “early success of Hub bike sharing” is surprising even its backers. The Hubway system has attracted 2,319 annual subscribers as of August 28, one month after its launch, and 36,612 trips have been made on it so far. Theft and vandalism have not been problems; planners say the biggest complaints they have received are from residents annoyed that their neighborhood doesn’t have a bike-share station yet.

In Boston, bike-share members pay $85 for a one-year membership which allows them unlimited 30-minute trips between bike stations; longer trips incur an additional charge. One-day and three-day memberships are also available for casual riders and tourists. Pricing for NYC’s system hasn’t been finalized yet, but will probably be similar in format and include daily, weekly, and annual memberships.

A few hours to the south, Washington, D.C. has announced plans to expand its Capital Bikeshare to the National Mall, filling in what had been a noticeable gap in its bike-share coverage. Capital Bikeshare is currently the largest bike-share in the country and has been widely regarded as a success since its launch last September. Earlier this year, the Washington Post took a look at how the system has become part of everyday life:

During last year’s nuclear summit meeting in Washington, when many workers were given a day off and everyone was discouraged from driving, because motorcades were roaring all over town, the depth of the cycling option became evident. With streets stripped of most cars, bikes that normally blend fairly invisibly into the street scape seemed to be everywhere.

The growth of bike-only lanes has served to embolden cyclists who might otherwise have feared doing battle with cars and trucks on congested streets. Office buildings in the District and elsewhere, and local governments, have made more bike racks available to those who ride their own bikes.

Sara Wilson said cycling has expanded horizons for her one-car household, and with parking scarce in her Northeast Washington neighborhood, it’s a better option for errands. “Yesterday I got my dry cleaning — there’s never any parking there — and today I got my rack of lamb.”

According to earlier reports, New York City’s bike-share system will include 10,000 bikes at 600 stations, making it the largest in the country. (Washington’s system currently has 1,100 bicycles at over 110 stations in the District of Columbia and Arlington, VA. Boston’s system has about 600 bikes at 53 stations, with significant expansion plans for hundreds of additional stations.)

Photo: Kevin Kovaleski for District of Columbia DOT.

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