The Boston area’s fleet of rental bikes will now take riders even farther into the suburbs: The Bluebikes program has announced a two-year pilot expansion into five more municipalities, beginning this summer.
The cerulean two-wheelers, already available in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Everett, and Somerville, will soon be added to Arlington, Chelsea, Newton, Revere, and Watertown, Bluebikes said last week. .
“This is a major step forward,” said Chris Dempsey, the director of Transportation for Massachusetts, a transit advocacy group.
“It’s the biggest step in a few years, definitely noteworthy, and something that could take the system to a whole new level,” he said Sunday.
Additional docking stations will also be added in Hyde Park, Mattapan, western Cambridge, and along the route of the Green Line Extension past Lechmere to Medford, as well as along Community Path in Somerville. After all the new docks are in place, the fleet will encompass nearly 400 stations and 4,000 cycles, Bluebikes said.
Dempsey, who said his group was not consulted about the expansion, also framed the build-out in the context of the pandemic, noting that with fears of using public transportation due to the coronavirus, many are turning to bicycles.
“Clearly there is a lot of anxiety about people riding public transit,” he said. “I am a regular rider, and I have that anxiety myself. People are looking for other options.”
But regardless of the pandemic, Dempsey said, the expansion shows the “staying power” of the Bluebikes system, which some thought might peter out in the early years.
They are “embedded into the fabric of Greater Boston,” he said.
Watertown’s director of planning, Steve Magoon, called the inclusion of his city an “exciting opportunity.”
“The experience for the public will be seamless and much more functional,” he said in the Bluebikes announcement.
Newton’s addition to the program was previously announced in February.
Lucas Phillips can be reached at email@example.com.