Boston’s Hubway Bike Share

The website for Boston’s Hubway bike share launched today. No map of docking stations yet, but it is coming… [Update – map is here and the scheme launches on 26 July.]

The bike share is due to launch at the end of the month and will seem quite familiar to anyone visiting from London (or Toronto or Washington DC) – it’s being run by the same company that designed the system used over here – Alta Bike Share, aka BIXI. Like London, the bikes will have three gears and flashing indicator lights. Pricing is $5 a day (or $60 a year) and then free for each journey under 30 minutes. Only the annual option has a key, daily users need to always use credit cards and print out access codes. The pricing increment for long journeys (over 90 minutes) increases very aggressively, so you really don’t want to do what a lot of Londoners do at the weekend, that is take the bike to your local park for a long picnic and keep it with you for the duration.

The helmet policy is interesting – unlike London where there was no mention of using/not using helmets, here in Boston they are saying that helmets should be worn, even if local laws don’t make it mandatory. Presumably this is to disclaim liability, line up with current local politics, or sponsor requirements.

Talking of sponsors, Boston’s Hubway is one of the few schemes to have a major “title” sponsor, in this case New Balance. There are immediate and obvious synergies with New Balance, a sportswear manufacturer, sponsoring a mode of transport that many see as a leisure activity as well as a utility or commuting tool. Certainly more obvious than Barclays, a bank, that is the title sponsor here in London.

Might we have a Nike scheme in a city soon? Is the Adidas Oxford Bike Share around the corner? You heard it here first! (I have no knowledge of any forthcoming bike shares in other UK cities, apart from the current Bath trial, but Oxford’s strange shape would be eminently suited to bike share if only everybody didn’t already have a bike.)