Cycling in Boston

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Police barricades being used as bike racks at Occupy Boston

Cycling in Boston has been a popular activity since the late 19th century for both recreation and commuting, and it has grown in popularity in recent years, aided by improving cycling infrastructure. It is especially prevalent around the campuses of the numerous universities in the city.

Different areas in Boston have varying degrees of bike friendliness. Until recently, the city of Boston has consistently been ranked as one of the worst areas in the country for biking. Bicycling magazine, in its March 2006 issue, named the city as one of its three worst cities in the United States for cycling,[1] whereas Cambridge earned an honorable mention as one of the best cities for cycling with a population of 75,000–200,000.[2]


Boston in 1897

At the end of the 19th century, cycling was especially popular in Boston, and Outing Magazine at the time described Boston as "the bicycling paradise of America".[3] The city's cyclists were pivotal in the formation of the national organization League of American Wheelmen, and Massachusetts had the largest per capita membership in the league in the 1890s and the largest percentage of women members.[4]

Bike sharing[edit]

Blubikes at a station in Boston

Bluebikes, the city's bicycle sharing system was launched on July 28, 2011, originally named Hubway, with 610 bicycles and 60 stations in the City of Boston.[5] Later, the system was expended to Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville. As of September 2016, the system has deployed 158 stations with a fleet of over 1,461 bikes.[5] PBSC Urban Solutions, a company based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, supplies bikes and docking stations.[6]

The system is operated by Motivate. As of October 2014, it had more than 12,500 annual members, and an over 2.5 million trips have been taken by Hubway riders since 2011 launch.

From May 9, 2018, the system was rebranded Bluebikes following a marketing deal with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.[7]

Bike sharing companies Lime and Spin won a contract from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council to introduce dockless rentals to certain suburbs in summer 2018. Lime was already operating in Malden,[8] and the MAPC system expands dockless rentals to Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Milton, Needham, Newton, Revere, Waltham, Watertown, and Winthrop.[9] Dockless bikes are excluded from the Hubway operating area because that system has an exclusive contract with Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville.


An abandoned bike in Beacon Street in winter

Cycling can be challenging in New England winter weather. Until the end of 2013, Hubway was shut down and disassembled for the winter, at which time 25 stations in Cambridge remained open during a winter pilot program.[5]


  1. ^ MacLaughlin, Nina (2006). "Boston Can Be Bike City...If You Fix These Five Big Problems". The Phoenix – Bicycle Bible 2006. Archived from the original on August 11, 2011.
  2. ^ "Urban Treasures". Archived from the original on 2007-10-14.
  3. ^ Simmons, Jonathan (June 23, 2010). "On Biking: a history of Boston biking, from an author who knows it". Retrieved October 25, 2014.
  4. ^ Finison, Lorenz J., Boston's Cycling Craze, 1880-1900, University of Massachusetts Press, May 2014, Access date: October 25, 2014
  5. ^ a b c "Hubway Media Kit". Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  6. ^ RedEye. "Divvy may test-drive helmet vending machines at stations". Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  7. ^ Fisher, Jenna. "Hubway Trades Green For Blue Bikes Starting Today". Patch Media. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  8. ^ "Malden Debuts Ofo and LimeBike - Dockless Bike Sharing Programs - City of Malden". Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  9. ^ Reporter, Adam Vaccaro- (April 13, 2018). "Thousands of dockless bikes are headed for Boston's suburbs - The Boston Globe". Retrieved January 16, 2019.

External links[edit]