Could Boston's Big Bike Share Plan Create Kinder, Gentler Drivers?


Some say Boston's too cold for bike sharing. Here's Milano's bike share by Luci Ombre Colori @ flickr.

"Riding a bike in Boston traffic requires a fundamental decision: Play it safe or go for broke,"

says Boston Globe reporter Tom Matlack in a recent article. Boston is on the verge of implementing a bike-share program to rival the biggies such as Paris' Vélib. Boston's bike advocate Nicole Freedman of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino's office hopes to choose a vendor this June for a program to debut next year with at least 150 stations and 1,500 bikes. Some opponents commenting on the article say bike sharing won't work in Boston's gritty city driving conditions.Is it safe or sane?
Critics of Boston's plan argue that Boston is not a city planned for cyclists, and it will cost a lot to change the city to accommodate bike commuting. But amazingly, in Massachusetts a new article shows that $80 million in bike project funds has gone unspent in the last two decades. Thus far, Mayor Menino put down 7 miles of dedicated bike paths in 2008 and has at least 5 more miles are planned for this year, along with 250 bike stands being put in at the direction of residents. This is small when compared to New York's nearly 60 miles of new bike paths. Blogger Universal Hub is somewhat cynical, saying bike sharing is "borrow-a-bike buffoonery" and that a bike share program won't lead to improved safe riding for bike commuters.

However, reporter Matlack, after a press junket to Paris, mused that perhaps bike sharing coming in Boston might bring about a new era of traffic cooperation, as it has to some degree in Paris. He quotes Thomas Valeau, who runs Vélib, saying:

"Velib has changed Parisians themselves. We are known as arrogant people, but with Velib, we have shown new behaviors. Velib has made Parisians helpful and friendly."

Cycling advocates, such as the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, rack up the pluses of a Boston bike share: bike sharing may be a boon to Boston's snarly traffic, making short commutes quicker. The savings for an individual can be anywhere from $100 - $200 per month depending on which mode (car with parking or public transport) is being displaced.

Proposals for the bike share program are due May 15 and Freedman has said she would like to make a choice by the end of June. After launching next year, eventually Boston hopes that its bike share will consist of 600 stations and 6,000 bikes, according to WeeklyDig. Bike sharing is not totally unheard of in Boston - the Cambridge Innovation Center is in its third year of hosting a small bike share. But Boston's bike share ambitions are much, much bigger. Via: Urban Velo
Read more on bike sharing at TreeHugger
Mais Oui! Despite Vandalism, Paris' Vélib Bike Share Expanding
Massive Theft, Vandalism Plaguing Parisian Bike Sharing Program
Short Film on Vélib, World's Biggest Bike Sharing Program in Paris
Parisians Love Their Vélos

Tags: Boston | Urban Life

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