Hey, there! Log in / Register
Covid-19, Bluebikes and an unreliable T put more people on bicycles, advocates say
By adamg on Fri, 11/25/2022 - 11:14am
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!
Magoo thinks this is excellent news and Magoo’s grand scheme is unfolding nicely. Magoo’s grand scheme is such that all those within the realm of Boston shall travel to their destination on unicycles wearing unitards. Magoo.
You love to see it!
I've been pleased to see how well Bluebikes (hubway) has been adopted by the region. I remember when they came out and all the questions regarding if people would use them, understand how to dock them, etc. Naysayers expected them to be stolen and trashed within weeks. But they keep being used and the bikes today are better than the original ones.
It was interesting to see the crash and burn of the dockless bike shares a few years ago. No one seems to be clamoring for dockless systems anymore.
I won't say Bluebikes is flawless but overall it works well in Boston.
Bluebikes are great
I don't use them all the time, but I keep my membership active. Sometimes the T does what people think it does all the time, and sometimes the trip is just plain better by bicycle. Ironically, I didn't use one at all during the Orange Line shutdown (the Commuter Rail rocked those weeks) but used them in the weeks after they finished "fixing" the line, leading to 20 minute waits for a train.
That said, yes, the bikes are being stolen and trashed. Running yesterday, I passed a random Bluebike on Hyde Park Avenue with the seat removed. Not the entire seat assembly, just the cloth cover. I have theories as to how the bikes end up randomly discarded or treated as personal property, but that's for another time.
Had a membership for years
They are great for last mile, line jumps without going dowtown (think medical area to Harvard) and ghost bus issues. I used to keep the fob on its own helmet.
We had the green bikes in
We had the green bikes in Chelsea before big blue showed up and on paper they seemed like a great idea but ultimately it just caused all sorts of issues imo. It was great they were scattered so people could pick them up "anywhere" but they weren't really all over. They still seemed to pile up in clumps and got in the way.
The blue bikes are harder to manage because of the infrastructure but it's more straight forward, you know where to find them, you know where to put them. They also seem to do a great job managing the fleet too.
Actually this makes the BlueBikes far easier to manage. With dockless bike share, the bikes can wind up anywhere and you have to constantly chase them down. They might be in a yard, on private property, blocking something, and not concentrated in one place. With BlueBikes the bikes all come to a finite number of known locations. So, yes, they might require more infrastructure but that means that they are easier to manage, not harder (which is why the model seems to work better).
BlueBikes works surprisingly well. I've been a member for more than a decade now and taken (shuffles papers) 3368 rides. The system had some issues in September with bike availability but that has gotten better with new bikes recently (and some summer-only stations coming offline) but even during that stage it was still reasonably usable. (I did have an "oh crap no bike slots, guess we have to take the T" issue the other day with an out-of-town visitor but the T somehow worked perfectly.) Anyway, the system is the most intensely-used bike share in the country (in trips per bike). Citibike in NYC has about 4.5 trips per bike per day and I think CaBi is similar … Boston in September was rolling along at about 6.5 trips per day. The Twin Cities, on the other hand, had about 500,000 trips across 2300 vehicles (including scooters) … in an entire year. They're only open from April to November, so about 210 days, but that's less than one ride per day per vehicle. So it's no wonder their system is on life support.
So the system works! But I keep hearing rumors that the cities want to introduce e-bikes to the system and I wholehearted disapprove. The beauty of BlueBikes is the simplicity. Get on a clunky bike, pedal, arrive at your destination. If you pay by the year, which accounted for about 75% of rides in 2021, you get all the rides you want for about $100 a year (or, if you do the Bike Angels enough, basically free). There's no question of how much it might cost, or whether a certain type of bike will be available. Either there are enough bikes/docks or not; if there are, ride the bike.
Add the e-bikes and it gets more confusing. They might have an undock fee, and a fee per minute, and they might be able to be left anywhere, or at a dock, but for different fees. And these are by-the-minute fees, so a 15 minute ride might cost $2.25. Not real expensive, but it adds up if you take a couple of hundred trips per year. All of the sudden the $100-per-year price is several times higher! And then the system has to recharge the bikes, and service the bikes, and monitor the bikes. Chicago has scooters in the system too! Just confuse everyone.
TL;DR: the system works, keep it simple please for the thousands who use it every day.
All of the arguments against e-bikes
Seem to be arguments about your preference. I don't see why that should prevent e-bikes from being part of the fleet. If you don't prefer to use an e-bike option, should it become available, then just choose the conventional option. Everything I've read on e-bikes says that it opens up non-car options for others, drivers included. To me that sounds like a positive potential force for mode shift, especially when there's a decently expensive entry price point for e-bike ownership.
Or, that there are some service model adjustments on the Blue Bike side of things to consider from a biz ops perspective. Still doesn't seem completely compelling to me for that to prevent them from expanding to offer them.
I think there are some decent arguments about new e-bike users and safety concerns, but I think they're actually making the point that additional road diet and traffic calming measures are worthwhile and necessary investments.
My fear with ebikes
People are now starting to think your bike needs a motor if it’s to be usable for commuting. This shift in outlook has huge environmental and social repercussions. It’s a huge step backwards.
To fight the change is futile but it’s still depressing. It’s been decades of work to try and get bicycles accepted as a viable transportation method only to have them replaced by motorcycles.
I wouldn't conflate e-bikes with motorcycles.
Okay first of all there are no protected bike lanes in front of 589 Mass Ave. There's a cab stand full of double-parked ubers.
Second: Most parking within a couple of blocks of Central is metered, so it's not reserved for residents.
Third: who the eff is driving to Caffe Nero in Central? It's on top of the Red Line and there are probably 10,000 people within a five minute walk.
This certainly sounds like someone who drives to work in Central and can't fathom that, you know, the customers don't.
Definitely have an increased
Definitely have an increased Bluebike ridership on the pedestrian only path around Jamaica Pond.
While I don't equate ebikes
While I don't equate ebikes with motorcycles they are definitely faster than regular pedal bikes. Every morning when I get off work there is this ebike with a v-shaped baby carrier on the front (Looks like a cowcatcher) that speeds down the straightaway near the sidewalk along the Forest Hills Upper Busway. I dread what would happen if someone was going from the sidewalk to the station and was hit by this beast.
Look both ways?
The bike path at Forest Hills is a traffic lane, pedestrians wishing to cross should treat it as such, and look before stepping in to it. I can't tell you how many hundreds of times a pedestrian has wandered on to that path right in front of me as I bike through. And yes, I see it as my responsibility, too, so I'm watching for such blind stupidity. But nevertheless, life would be a lot easier for all of us, if nobody thought they were in an insulated bubble that didn't need to pay attention to their surroundings.