Since its debut in Boston in 2011, the bicycle sharing program Hubway has steadily expanded — adding kiosks in Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline. Recently, residents of Newton have been weighing the merits of joining the program as well, and the city of 85,000 should do so. Well-planned extensions of the network into other nearby, densely populated communities only add to its usefulness for all.
Hubway is a perfect fit for the already bike-friendly city of Newton — which, despite its reputation as a leafy suburb, is more densely settled than many major American cities. Newton has taken several steps recently to improve safety, from installing bike routes on busy streets to implementing awareness and safety programs in local middle schools. In fact, in May the city was awarded a bronze medal from the League of American Bicyclists in recognition of its infrastructure improvements.
Newton has already begun preliminary negotiations with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the regional body that facilitates Hubway’s operations across different municipalities, to bring Hubway to the city, and is hoping to find private sponsors willing to foot a portion of the cost. Other cities took similar steps before joining the program. When Cambridge joined Hubway, for instance, it used a combination of city funds, grants, and contributions from local partners.
To connect Newton into the system, Hubway would first have to expand its operations in Brookline and Boston’s Allston and Brighton neighborhoods; otherwise, Newton would be isolated from the rest of the network. But an extension into Newton — not to mention other dense nearby suburbs — is worth the effort. Hubway would provide Newton with a clean and inexpensive way of connecting what’s often viewed as a bedroom community to downtown Boston.