Paris bike share system

This is the second in a series of articles on the issues discussed at the June 22, 2009 public meeting for the Greenway District Planning Study with a focus on transportation.

Bicycling programs are receiving more attention as a much needed part of Boston’s transportation future. In typical mayoral fashion, Menino has made this one of his favorite issues as a converted biker himself and is oft-quoted as supporting these efforts.

The best and most important way to encourage bicycle use is to have dedicated bike lanes on as many streets as possible. For the roads around the Greenway, there is generally plenty of space for the 5 feet needed for a bicycle lane without removing parking or other traffic lanes.

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The BTD is exploring the concept of bike sharing where ‘stations’ are available with bikes that can be rented for one-way trips and deposited at other stations around the city. These programs are in place in Europe and Mayoral Candidate Kevin McCrea suggested the City look at Montreal’s bike share program. Each station would take up the space of about one regular car parking spot and house 5-10 racks. In addition to along the Greenway, other locations would be around major destinations like Post Office Square, Faneuil Hall, Long Wharf, and Boston Common. Expect to see some trials starting in 2010.

The major rub with all of this is that bicycle use is prohibited on the Greenway. The design never made room for bike paths on the Greenway such as those along the Charles River. This unfortunate reality means the most bikers can hope for is to have bike lanes on the roads around the Greenway. Kevin McCrea suggested that Greenway roads be closed to cars on some days similar to Memorial Drive on Sunday mornings.

Bicycling enthusiasts and shop owners offered strong support with programs such as “Bike to the Boat” which takes riders to the USS Constitution. The new shop on Atlantic Avenue mentioned that their customers are cautious to ride on the surrounding roads and only dedicated bike lanes will change that image.

Next in this series is a discussion on electric cars and plug-in stations.

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