Tuesday, April 03, 2012

My first Hubway ride

It's a beautiful if chilly day in Boston. I've come into town for a meeting with my new client near Chinatown, and this morning, I got a message from Boston Bike Czar Nicole Friedman about the spring relaunch of the Hubway, Boston's own bikeshare program.

I've been dubious of the program from the start... the climate, the limited number of bikes, and the great number of irresponsible students all seemed make it a non-starter in my book. But now I'm not so sure. I decided to get a bike at Park Street Station and ride it over to where Mayor Menino was speaking in Copley Square to see what's up.

All I needed to take out a bike was my credit card, and I paid $5 for 24 hours of bikes. The machine spit out a secret code, which I then punched in to the first bike bay - and I was off! The bike felt great - it was heavy of course, but that was barely noticeable. Very solid and easy to ride with a nice upright posture.

I rode through the Common and then walked across the Garden (trying to set a good example, you know), then down Newbury Street, and finally cut over to the Public Library, where the event was being held.

Lots of people were there, including a handful of my bike community buddies, so it was nice to see them and hang out for a bit. I also got a refund of my $5 as part of the event - sweet! I missed out on a free novelty-size burrito, though. :-(

The mayor did his thing, but I left in the middle and rode over to Charles MGH to hop back on the Red Line towards home.

Three big impressions:
  1. The facilities are fantastic! The bikes, bays, and payment stations are in great nick and very easy to use
  2. As much as Boston's improved it's cycle-friendliness, lots of work needs to be done on the routes still - it's really REALLY hard to get from Copley to Charles MGH without going the wrong way down one-way streets (I ended up going down the Esplanade just to stay on the right side of the law!)
  3. LOTS of people are using the bikes already! I saw people at every bay I passed, and saw at least a dozen users biking along here and there
The last point gives me the most optimism about the program. If people like the system and the bikes stay in good shape, they'll always find a way from here to there.

The biggest development should be when they expand across the river (come on, Cambridge!!!) - but in the meantime, I'm going to get my Hubway key!

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