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Bike Sharing Coming to Boston

Boston officials have reportedly reached a deal with a Canadian company, the Public Bike System Company, to bring a network of bike sharing stations to the city.

Think Zip Cars, but for bikes.

Under the system, a rider would be able to rent a bike from one location with the swipe of a credit card, pedal to his or her destination and then drop off the bike at another location.

Yahoo News

The obvious goal here is to encourage bicycle commuting for short trips and hopefully take a few cars off the road.  This is in keeping with Boston’s recent push to turn itself into a world class bicycling city, and once it is implemented it will be the nation’s largest urban bike sharing program.

I have to admit to wondering how much use a system like this will really get.  Purchasing a bicyle isn’t cost prohibitive, and owning one isn’t a hassle… so I would think that people interested in biking around town for errands, or to go to appointments, would likely own their own already.  But similar programs in other cities have been successful, so clearly there is some potential.

For example, Bixi, a program in Montreal, which was developed by the same company Boston will be using, claims to have over 8,000 members – and 77,000 occasional users – with over 2 million miles logged.

Here is what one of their stations looks like.

(photo from Flickr)

The Boston plan calls for 290 stations and some 2,500 bikes – with the ability to expand it at a later date – and could be ready for use by next summer.

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