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Boston working to expand bike-share program, add more lanes

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  February 29, 2012 03:38 PM

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Boston’s biking initiative is increasing the number of bicyclists across the city and improving safety for new and seasoned riders alike, according to city officials.

“As a city we just started to get it four years ago,” Michael Kineavy, the chief of policy and planning for the city, told more than 100 volunteers, city employees, biking advocates, and bicyclists who gathered at the city’s fourth annual Boston Bikes update.

Since the city launched its biking initiative in 2007, Boston has created 50 miles of bike lanes, started a bike-share program, and this year put more than 1,000 bikes in the hands of low-income residents, according to the annual report.

It’s also been named a Silver level Bike Friendly City by the League of American Bicyclists and the eight safety cycling city by the Alliance for Walking & Bicycling.
Officials say that’s just the beginning.

“If we want to continue to push the envelope in this city we have to continue to make those decisions,” said Kineavy, referring to the decision to remove 71 metered parking spaces to close the bike lane gap on Massachusetts Avenue in Decemeber, a move lauded by the cycling community.

Nicole Freedman, who heads the city’s Boston Bikes program, also highlighted progress in other areas and outlined future goals at the public update Tuesday night.

Freedman said biking in the city has increased by 50 percent since 2007, and she expects more bikes on the road as the city expands its bike share program.

The city’s bike share program, The Hubway, launched last year with 600 bicycles at 60 stations in various parts of the city. Users took about 142,000 trips on those bikes during their first season, and Freedman said the city is actively fundraising and “working very hard” to increase the number of bikes and build stations in more neighborhoods, including South Boston, Charlestown, and Jamaica Plain.

Hubway is expected to expand into Cambridge and Somerville this year.

The city also hopes to expand the Hubway system by offering up to 600 subsidized memberships and helmets to residents who qualify.

“We will hit 600. We want every single person to us this system,” Freedman said.

The city’s community programs also gave away more than 1,000 donated bikes to low-income residents and helped almost 8,000 children learn to ride.

“They go nuts when we pull up with those bikes,” said John Bilderbeck, director of Community Cycling Programs.

Besides increasing access to bikes, the city hopes to make riding through the city easier and more accessible by expanding its Bike Network Plan, increasing bike parking, and adding up to 15 to 20 miles of bike lanes a year, including the upcoming addition in lanes in the downtown area.

The city also plans to continue educational efforts to inform drivers on how to safely share the road with cyclist, and fine drivers $100 for parking in bike lanes.

Freedman promised Boston Police will also continue to ticket bikers who do not obey traffic laws.

“We’re looking at the whole culture,” said Freedman, explaining that the city wants drivers, bikers, and pedestrians to follow the rules of the road to make travel safer for everyone.
Twitter: @JohannaKaiser

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