Commute, Run Errands for $40 a Year

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This is probably not going to bolster the struggling car industry, but if it helps the environment, eases road traffic, and saves folks some money, people will get over it pretty quickly. Bike-sharing, which has long been available in cities throughout Europe, and got a brief preview during last fall’s presidential conventions, will get its first full-fledged introduction in a U.S. city next spring. And the city is … Boston?

Yes, Boston. Not Portland, Oregon, or Madison, Wisconsin, or any other city that’s already known for being bike-friendly. On the one hand, Boston makes little sense for such a program, what with its ability to attract blizzards from November to March and its winding, narrow, overcrowded roads. Bicycling magazine has even named Beantown on its list of worst cities for bikers. On the other hand, Boston arguably needs a bike-sharing program as much as any city. Getting cars off the road can only help the traffic situation in Boston. The locals in Boston are probably less likely to already have bikes—and therefore more likely to want to share bikes, if they’re convenient and the price is right—than cities already renowned for its great bike paths and large biker populations. So Boston it is.

A Boston Globe story provides more of the nitty-gritty details of the plan. As proposed right now, riders will have the option of paying $2.50 per day or paying an annual membership of $40. All a biker would have to do is find a bike station—there will be dozens throughout the city—swipe a credit card, and start pedaling. With an annual membership, the first 30 minutes of a ride is free, giving the rider time to take care of an errand or, for some folks, even commute to work. After that first half-hour, an hourly charge would be assessed.

So next spring, look out for the bikahs.