Boston officials said the system, to be called Hubway, will open in July with 600 bicycles and 61 stations in the city, though they envision growing in a few years to as many as 5,000 bikes at more than 300 kiosks, from Brookline to Somerville.
The nomenclature used for the system, “Hubway”, is apparently a play off Boston’s nickname “the Hub”, though you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who agreed with the title superficially or substantively. I’ve never heard someone refer to this city as the Hub and it seems akin to those whimsically annoying fruit-associated nicknames given to insubstantial cities by well-meaning, and definitelyinsecure, journalists. What is Boston the “Hub” of, exactly? New England I assume, but being named the Hub of a generally suburban landscape is too much like being the capital of California: it had to happen somewhere. That’s beside the point though.
While small and rather expensive ($6 million for 600 bikes and 61 stations, Moskowitz writes) Boston needs some bright spots on its transportation ledger, especially among disgruntled students who, along with toursits, will most likely make up the dominating demographic of bike-sharers. There is also an urban planning spin to all this cycling talk as Mayor Menino has brought “expertise” (I don’t use the term disparagingly, it’s just that I’m not sure such experience is actually “expertise” in the spirit of the word) in the crossroads of urbanism and bicycles into the fold in one Nicole Freedman. Again, Eric Moskowitz:
[Mayor] Menino has had his sights set on bike sharing since he launched a major bicycling initiative in 2007, hiring urban planner and former Olympic cyclist Nicole Freedman with a mission to end Boston’s perennial ranking among the world’s least bike-friendly cities, a distinction attributed to the city’s cramped and twisting streets and aggressive drivers.
“The news [from France] was that this is one of the ways to transform your city into a world-class bicycling city,’’ said Freedman, hired just as Paris was opening its Velib network.
Bicycling city is a new term to me and I’m not sure that I particularly like it. Unless drivers in Massachusetts have signficantly improved their boorish driving habits since I was last outside, cyclists will always be a wary species. I am all for following the lead of Amsterdam, Budapest, and Prague (and New York, sort of) in creating pedestrian-only blocks that would allow for (civil) bicycle use simply because I think it makes those parts of the city immune to road rage and auto-peacocking (though it does increase the chances of the now rare cycle-peacocking, popular in certain sections of Allston and the Boston University campus) but that doesn’t seem likely to happen, so what is all the clammer over making Boston a “world-class bicycling city”? Make it a metropolitan city first, then the bicycles, ridden by their oh-so-metropolitan masters will soon follow.
Oh I forgot to say, I’m glad bike-sharing is coming to Boston.