Late yesterday afternoon, I began getting calls from reporters seeking comment on the news that Boston had landed a $3M federal grant to launch the long-awaited bike share program. See the Boston Globe article or visit our Press Room. Yes, that’s right, the city now has the money for bike share!
Originally planned to launch this May, then pushed back to July, then going somewhat ominously quiet amid rumors of financial issues, the bike share is back and we are very glad to hear it. The program is now anticipated to launch in Spring 2011. At 500 bikes and 50 stations, the program will not initially be as large as originally planned, but large enough to prove the concept and justify growing to thousands of bikes at hundreds of stations. The money is coming from the Federal Transit Administration, which liked the city’s plan to locate many bike share stations near public transit.
While we’re sorry it got pushed back a year, it’s an great opportunity for the city to make even more progress on infrastructure improvements (like more bike lanes and paths). The safer and more comfortable the city is for cycling, the greater the chance of success of the program. And we really want it to succeed: It is an opportunity to redefine what a “bicyclist” is. With bike share, anyone can choose to shift a trip from driving, or transit, or walking to bicycling at any time. What it really means is a chance for bicycling to become mainstream almost overnight!
There will still be challenges – infrastructure needs and education and safety issues among them – with a program that overnight puts lots of potentially inexperienced cyclists on Boston streets, but that is a good problem to have. MassBike is ready to help with our education program and continuing efforts working with the Boston Bikes program.