The next Hub of cycling? Everett
The big bicycling cities in Greater Boston: Cambridge. Somerville . . . Everett?
Yes, Everett will soon have a bunch of bike rental options by joining what to this point has been a pretty exclusive club of communities with Bluebikes, formerly known as Hubway. The publicly owned bike rental program has been operating in Boston since 2011 and in Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline since 2012.
While it has expanded in those cities, Bluebikes has not spread beyond their borders — until now. In the spring, Everett will open as many as 11 bike rental facilities.
“We want to provide more options for people to get into Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville — where the jobs are,” Everett transportation planner Jay Monty said. “In order to do that, Bluebikes was a must-have.”
Everett already has a bike rental program, one of more than a dozen Boston-area communities running a one-year test of so-called dockless bike-share programs. Bikes owned by the California-based company Lime are available across the city, usually on sidewalks or other public spaces, and users can find, rent, and unlock them using a smartphone app — similar to electric scooter rentals that Lime operates in other cities.
Bluebikes, by contrast, uses fixed stations where riders rent and return the bikes. The stations are owned by the various cities but operated through a contract with Lyft, which bought the company that runs the rental systems in several major US cities.
Lyft’s contracts with Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline prohibit the cities from allowing competing bike-share systems. But Everett did not give Lyft exclusivity in its new contract. Monty said the Lime bikes will be convenient for riders going back and forth among other communities with the dockless system — such as Malden, Chelsea, and Revere — while Bluebikes can be used to get to and from Boston or Cambridge or Somerville.
“I don’t see them competing necessarily,” Monty said. “They’re serving two different travel markets.”
Dockless bikes typically start at $1 a ride. Bluebikes charges $2.50 for a single 30-minute trip, with another $2.50 for each additional half-hour. A 24-hour pass costs $10, and a yearly pass is $99.
Everett — which has also put major emphasis on improving its bus lines since 2016 — hopes a major influx of tourists will use the bike rental systems. The Encore Boston Harbor casino is set to open this year, and casino owner Wynn Resorts has provided some of the funds for Bluebikes and will have two stations on its property.
While the casino makes Everett something of a unique case, Galen Mook, executive director of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, said he’s hopeful Everett’s Bluebikes launch will encourage other cities to join the system. But he said communities must also build bike lanes that are safe enough to encourage use, such as cycle tracks that are separated from road traffic.
For its part, Everett has a new cycle track on its main avenue, Broadway, and has plans to build others in the next couple of years. The city has also championed a proposed bike and pedestrian bridge over the Mystic River that would link the casino site to the MBTA’s Assembly Square Station on the Orange Line.