Boston Gets Serious About Bike-Share

menino.jpgThat’s Boston Mayor Thomas Menino in the blue track suit. Photo: Boston Globe.

The AP reports that Boston is looking to launch a bike-share program — and not the skimpy, half-hearted variety:

The city has put out a request for proposals to create a bike share program. The proposal envisions a network of 150 stations scattered across the city with 1,500 bicycles available to students, commuters and visitors with the swipe of a card.

Officials eventually hope to expand the network to 600 stations in the greater metropolitan area with 6,000 bikes.

Talk about a turnaround. Boston streets didn’t even have any bike lanes until last year. But Mayor Thomas Menino has become an avid cyclist himself, and the city’s first bicycle coordinator, Nicole Freedman, is not short on ideas. Good thing they’re not afraid to succeed. The Boston announcement stands in marked contrast to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s plan for a pilot bike-share with — count ’em — 50 bikes.

For Boston (population ~ 600,000), a system with 1,500 bikes would merit comparison to the flagship bike-share systems in Europe. Barcelona’s Bicing, for instance, launched with 3,000 bikes and about 200 stations for a city with more than twice the residents and a land area about 25 percent bigger than Boston. Bike-share is more ubiquitous in Paris, where Vélib supplies about 20,000 bicycles to a city of just over two million inhabitants. (Matthew Roth at Streetsblog SF has a great post about ideal bike-share specs, and promo site B-Cycle provides a slick way to see the optimum numbers for your hometown.)

Elsewhere in the U.S., Minneapolis plans to launch a 1,000-bike system later this year, and Denver has a 500-bike system in the works. In New York, DOT signaled its interest in launching a bike-share system last year, but nothing so specific as Boston’s RFP has been released.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

STREETSBLOG USA

Boston to NYC: Bike-Share Will Be Worth It

|
As New York readers know, bike-share stations are hitting the streets after the program encountered a few snags last year. When members start taking the first rides on Citi Bike later this month, it will be the nation’s largest bike-share system, launching with 6,000 bikes. Right now the sight of those new bike stations is […]
STREETSBLOG SF

Bay Area Bike Share to Expand Tenfold By 2017

|
Bay Area Bike Share will expand to a 7,000-bike system over the next two years and venture into Oakland, Berkeley, and Emeryville. San Francisco’s system will dramatically increase to 4,500 bikes, and San Jose’s will expand to 1,000. The mayors of all five cities announced the expansion today along with Motivate, the system’s operator (formerly known as […]

Boston Endorses Parking Reform as Key Green Policy

|
An illustration of how Boston will make its transportation system greener. Image: City of Boston "Folks, you ain’t seen nothing yet," Mayor Bloomberg told an Earth Day crowd yesterday. "The best and greenest days are yet to come." The PlaNYC update coming in 2011, he implied, would have a slew of new initiatives to make […]

Boston’s First Bike Lanes a Hit With Drivers

|
Last month, Boston moved toward shedding its rep as one of the country’s least cycling-friendly cities by installing its first-ever bike lanes on city-controlled streets. According to the Boston Globe, the lanes — on Commonwealth Avenue and American Legion Highway — will be accompanied by some 250 bike racks around the city, and represent the […]