LimeBike and Spin have been selected to provide dock-less bike share services for Newton, Needham and 13 other inner suburban communities in Metro Boston starting this summer, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) has announced.
“People who live, work, and visit the service area will be able to rent bikes using a smart phone, and ride them anywhere in the 15-community region, starting at a cost of $1 for the first 30 minutes,” said MAPC’s Executive Director Marc Draisen. “The new system will incorporate station-less, smart bike technology, and will also feature some pedal-assist electric bicycles, or ‘e-bikes,’ to make cycling uphill and into headwinds less challenging. And, the system will be launched at no cost to the participating cities and towns.”
This new regional system will allow users to pick up and drop off a bicycle virtually anywhere in the participating communities, although some cities and towns may choose to assign designated parking locations. Several communities, including Waltham, Malden, Chelsea and Revere, piloted dock-less bike share in fall 2017, and are now joining the regional effort to make cross-border travel easier and safer.
“We’re thrilled to have a state-of-the-art dock-less bike share program in Newton through a groundbreaking collaboration linking these 15 communities. This outside-the-box thinking will help make traveling through our city easier, greener, more accessible, and fun,” said Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller.
The other participating communities are Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Milton, Revere, Waltham, Watertown and Winthrop.
MAPC solicited proposals for a no-cost bike share system on behalf of the 15 municipalities late in 2017, and nine qualified applicants submitted detailed proposals. The agency selected LimeBike and Spin after a thorough review process early this year, which included interviews with an evaluation committee of MAPC and municipal officials. MAPC also empaneled a panel of experts in biking and bike share technology to advise the agency and the evaluation committee. Both companies will provide service to all participating communities at no cost to the cities and towns.
Users lock and unlock bicycles with a smartphone, but measures will be taken to ensure those without smartphones, and those who prefer to pay with cash, can use the system. It is expected the system will be fully operational in time for summer 2018.
The launch of the dock-less system will bring bike sharing to areas outside of the municipalities currently served by Hubway, the metro region’s public bike share system which is owned by and operates in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline. Hubway recently announced a major new expansion for this year, and will in the near future be changing its name to Blue Bikes in recognition of a new sponsorship by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. The system will soon expand to 300 stations and 3,000 bikes.
“The dramatic expansion of Hubway in the core of the Boston region, plus the launch of a new dock-less system in 15 surrounding communities, means that bike share is finally achieving the scale and penetration that residents have always wanted,” Draisen said.
"Operating in the Boston Metropolitan area provides a really unique opportunity for us, and we’re excited to implement a dock-less bike share system that holistically serves the region but also addresses the needs of the individual communities,” said Kyle Rowe, head of government partnerships at Spin. “Throughout this process, we’ll be working closely with the 15 communities and MAPC to address parking management, create an inclusive program for low income residents, and provide education to riders."
“LimeBike has uncoupled the cost of bike share from cities with our flexible, dock-free model and we are poised to bring the promise and potential of bike share to 15 municipalities in metro-Boston this spring,” states Scott Mullen, Director of Expansion for New England at LimeBike. “Our goal is to enable mode shift and we are thrilled to launch a coordinated network that has the potential to transform the region.”
MAPC’s request for proposals came in response to the influx of dock-less bike share companies looking to enter into U.S. markets. This will be one of the first widespread regional systems spanning over a dozen cities and towns, these privately-funded dock-less bike share companies have already launched several systems across the country. Seattle, one of the first cities to launch a dock-less bike share pilot in July 2017, recently concluded its pilot with over 9,000 bicycles on the street, and Washington, D.C. issued permits for five dock-less bike share companies to operate in September.