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Bike share may seek alternatives to Center for the Arts plaza site

Posted by Cara Bayles  July 11, 2011 03:48 PM

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City officials are looking into alternatives to a proposal to install a 41-foot-long bike share station on the Boston Center for the Arts plaza, after the plan drew safety concerns from nearby businesses during a June South End Landmarks Commission meeting.

The station would be one of 61 locations where the Menino administration’s Boston Bikes office plans to install kiosk stations for a citywide bike share program. Dubbed “Hubway,” the program will consist of 600 bicycles that participants can pick up or drop off at any of the stations in the city, a plan intended to promote bike riding on Boston’s infamous streets and revolutionize public transportation within city limits. Membership in the program would cost an estimated $85 per year, and rides that last less than 30 minutes would be free.

Nicole Freedman, the city's bike czar, said that so far, the siting process has generally gone smoothly.

"For the most part we have a lot of people who want stations on their property. We’ve had some comments, but in general it’s been very positive," she said.

She added that city officials are "definitely looking at alternatives" to the Center for the Arts site.

"We’re still work with the neighborhoods. We’ve got a couple weeks still," she said, adding that the stations will be installed at the end of the month.

“Essentially, a mountain of cars descend on a 200-foot stretch of Tremont Street every night. That’s where all of the traffic occurs,” he said. “The proposed site of the bike rack would be perfect if there wasn’t already so much going on there. But my concern is for the safety of customers.”

Between the foot traffic from events at the center for the arts that draw large crowds, its public art installations, as many as ten valet employees rushing to move cars that stop on the side of Tremont Street, the plaza’s busy nightlife might not have room for a rack.

The location by the Boston Center for the Arts drew criticism from business owners in the area, like Gordon Hamersley, co-owner of Hamersley’s Bistro on the Clarendon Street side of the plaza. He said the Boston Center for the Arts, the Beehive and Hamersley’s all share a valet service, and there are other valets across Tremont Street as well.

Kristi Keefe, director for community relations for the Boston Center for the Arts, has been working with the mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services on proposing potential alternatives. She said Tabitha Bennett, the neighborhood coordinator for the South End, was scouting potential alternative sites and speaking with abutters.

“We’re going to reconvene and talk about other locations,” said Keefe.

Freedman said other proposals include Tremont and Milford streets and on-street locations that would involve removing parking spaces. She stressed that "nothing has been finalized yet."

Several bike kiosk locations have been proposed for the South End. Two other locations, in front of the South End Library and by Boston Medical Center, earned Landmarks approval at the June meeting. Other possible sites include the corner of Columbus and Massachusetts avenues, Washington Street and Rutland Square, Tremont and West Newton streets, and Washington and Lenox streets. These locations have not yet been finalized.

E-mail Cara Bayles at

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