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[Boston.com] Who's Riding the Hubway This Winter?

The following article was originally published by Adam Vaccaro on Boston.com on March 3rd, 2015.

For Joel Parker, the Hubway is just the easiest way to get to work. Even in the cold, snowy winter.

Parker lives in North Andover and works at Akamai Technologies in Kendall Square. He comes in to Boston’s North Station on the commuter rail. Taking the Green Line to Park Street, then jumping on the Red Line to Kendall Square is one option; walking to Charles/MGH for a quick train ride across the river is another; or, he can walk across the river to Lechmere, hop on a Hubway bike, and cut straight to Kendall.

Parker is one example of the Boston-area riders who have been using the bike-share system this winter. A February that will be best remembered for its record snow saw 144 Hubway rides per day, according to estimates provided by Hubway spokesperson Benjy Kantor. The system spent several days closed due to snow emergencies last month. With those days aside, it averaged about 194 rides.

Last week, on Wednesday, people took Hubway bikes for a spin 300 times, a February high. In January, Hubway registered about 255 rides per day, with a high of 526 on January 23.

Those are small-ish numbers considering that Hubway registered more than 1.1 million rides in all of 2014. That’s got a lot to do with the fact that in the winter, Hubway stations are only open in one of the four communities in which the system operates. Cambridge’s Hubway stations have stayed open for a second straight winter. Hubway stayed open in Boston through December 31, but closed in Somerville and Brookline after Thanksgiving.

A distinguishing factor of Hubway winter riders, then, is that they are people who need to get around—or at least through—Cambridge.

Those who are riding are also the types who may take the Hubway in other months: 93 percent of users in the winter season—defined as Thanksgiving through April—have been annual Hubway members, with only 7 percent taking out 24- or 72-hour passes, according to Kantor. Over the course of the rest of 2014, 75 percent of users were members, while 25 percent were taking bikes out short-term. That suggests, not surprisingly given the season and its weather, that the system is seeing far less tourism or joy ride use.

Parker, for example, describes himself as an avid cyclist. His membership with Hubway (subsidized by his employer, the $85 annual membership runs him $25) allows him to carry on his suburban biking when he steps off the commuter rail. He takes the Hubway close to every day, and he plans to handle his commute the same come spring, summer, and fall. It will be all the easier, he said, when the Boston stations come back online, and he can get a bike at North Station.

Some in-town bike commuters are also using the Hubway. Joseph Borkowski is a Somerville resident who works at Harvard. He owns a bike, and he rides to work daily. But he started making a 10-minute walk across the Cambridge-Somerville border to Porter Square after the snow started falling this winter. He said the advantage of riding a Hubway bike is that when his ride ends, it’s as simple as putting the bike in the Hubway docks, which Hubway has been keeping clear of snow throughout the season. On his personal bike, with several feet worth of snowbanks crowding bike posts, street signs, and other places to lock up, the price of membership has been worth the convenience.

Arlington resident Saul Jacobowitz, who works at the RunKeeper offices near North Station, is also a year-round bike commuter. In the winter, though, it’s more challenging to make that long haul, he said. RunKeeper provides all employees with a Hubway membership, so Jacobowitz made use of his for a while by hopping in the car and catching a ride with his wife, who drives to Harvard Square for work, and taking a Hubway bike in from there. However, when the Boston stations closed in late December and required him to walk from the edge of Cambridge into work, he started either taking the T from Harvard or strapping his own bike to the back of the car. (Unlike Borkowski, his office has indoor bike storage, so he doesn’t have to worry about the lock-up issue.)

But Jacobowitz has found use for Hubway since. Hubway bikes proved particularly useful for Jacobowitz during the public transit mayhem of February, he said, when he found himself waiting 15 minutes or longer for a train. It was quicker to walk back to Cambridge and take a Hubway bike to meet his wife at Harvard.

Both Borkowski and Jacobowitz said using Hubway has had another advantage over taking their own bikes to work in the winter. Road salt and wet roads don’t mix particularly well with bicycles, and keeping them clean and in good condition is a headache that Borkowski is happy to evade. “My bike’s worn out from the fall,” Borkowski said. “I’m happy to not have to worry about it.”

Overall, Hubway ridership is down from last year in January and February. In 2014, the two months saw 13,681 total rides compared to 11,938 this year.

This year actually saw an 18.8 percent year-over-year ridership increase in January, but a sharp fall-off for February of more than 40 percent. That may be partially traceable to the amount of snow on the ground. Last February, the system was offline for 62 hours due to the weather compared to 140 hours this year. And beyond availability, road conditions just haven’t been all that appealing for cycling in the last 30 days.

For most people, anyway.

[USA Today] 10Best: Bike-share programs to tour great cities

The following is an excerpt of an article that was originally published by Larry Bleiberg in USA Today on February 27th, 2015. Click here for the full article.

Forget a rental car or a taxi: The best way for travelers to explore a city is often on two wheels. And with more than 50 U.S. municipalities offering bike-share programs, it has never been easier for visitors to take to the streets, says Paul DeMaio, a transportation consultant and co-author of the Bike-sharing Blog. “You’re getting to see the sights, see how the city functions and you’re able to cover more ground than by simply walking.” Systems typically allow visitors to rent bikes with a credit card and return them at any station in the operating area. DeMaio shares with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY some of the nation’s best and busiest bike-shares.

Hubway
Boston region
With its wealth of students and tourists, Boston’s bike-share system has found a loyal following in the city and nearby towns of Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville. Indeed, its most popular station is on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus. The system even offers subsidized bike-share memberships to low-income residents and to those with weight or health issues if prescribed by a doctor from Boston Medical Center. 855-948-2929; thehubway.com

[BikeLife Cities] Dawn of the Bike Age

The following article was originally published by Becca Heaton in BikeLife Cities Magazine on November 25th, 2014.

We’ve had the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Fossil Fuel Age, but this is the dawn of the Bike Age. More and more people are biking— and it’s not just millennials and grizzled men in spandex bike shorts.

Over the last decade, the number of bicycling baby boomers has more than doubled. Bicycling among Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans has grown even faster than rates among non-Hispanic White Americans. And, even though men on bikes still outnumber women on bikes, more women than ever are enjoying two-wheeled commutes.

In cities that have invested in quality bike infrastructure, up to 45 percent of bicyclists are women. In Tucson, nearly 20 percent of trips within two miles of the University of Arizona are on bikes; that’s one in five trips!

Join folks of every age, race, ethnicity and gender by evolving: Replace some of your fossil-fueled car trips with bike trips. You and your community will notice the benefits. Here are some fun facts and statistics.

Physical Health

» Biking is good for your heart! Individuals who bike commute tend to have lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Bike commuters tend to have healthier insulin levels, too.

» Bike commuting to school or work reduces the risk of obesity in kids and adults. Multiple studies have found that car commuters— even those who were physically active at other times —gained more weight than bike commuters.

» Biking can ease the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.

» Biking makes you younger! Well, almost. One study found that an adult who regularly commutes by bike has a level of fitness equivalent to someone 10 years younger.

Mental Health

» Long car commutes are associated with poor mental health— especially in women. Biking, on the other hand, has been shown to improve self-esteem and overall well being, while increasing tolerance to stress.

» Biking is known to reduce sleep difficulties and tiredness.

Economic Health

» The average American spends more than $8,000 each year on their car and about 64 minutes each day behind the wheel. Wouldn’t you prefer to save some of that money and time by commuting by bike (which will only cost you about $300 each year) [Hubway note: or only $85/year using Hubway]?

» Companies that encourage their employees to bike save significant money on health care costs.

» Multiple business studies have found that customers that arrive by bike visit stores more often than customers who arrive by car. With all of the money they save by not using a car, bicyclists also tend to spend more money each month than drivers.

[North End Waterfront] Play "Boston Bingo" to Support Local Businesses

The following article was originally published by Matt Conti on NorthEndWaterfront.com on February 23rd, 2015.

“Boston Bingo” is a new game to support local businesses recoup after the brutal winter weather. Created by the City of Boston Office of Economic Development, residents fill out a bingo card and submit it either electronically or drop it off at City Hall.

At each location, you need to snap a photo of yourself and tweet, Instagram or post on Facebook the picture AND the hashtag #BosBingo. Feel free to tag the business itself and for extra fun, tag us @NorthEndBoston! Looking at the categories, it wouldn’t take long to make “bingo” just in the North End / Waterfront neighborhood.

“Boston Bingo is a creative way for residents to come together and support our local economy as we continue to recover from the historic amount of snow Boston has received this winter,” said Mayor Walsh in a statement.

You can download a bingo card here or pick one up at local businesses. Boston Bingo prizes include Bruins tickets, Hubway memberships and coffee with Mayor Walsh.

All bingo squares are “open for interpretation” according to the City’s website explaining the rules. Each winning card enters you into a raffle for the prizes. Fill in one line as in traditional bingo or get 7 entries at once by filling in the entire card.

“We are excited to launch Boston Bingo,” said John Barros, Chief of Economic Development. “The weather has taken a toll on small business revenues, making it harder for them to pay their employees, or keep up with the costs of keeping their doors open. It’s so important that we do what we can to support them, and encourage our neighbors to do the same.”

To enter electronically, email crystal.torman@boston.gov a photo or a scanned copy of your winning card with the correct cells marked. Make sure your email includes your name, phone number, and social media information (twitter handle, Facebook, Instagram, etc.).  For the non-techies, you can bring your paper receipts and bingo card to Room 603 at City Hall. Submissions are due by midnight on March 15, 2015. See the city’s website for more details.

[BostInno] Mayor Walsh Unveils 'Boston Bingo' to Help Boost Local Businesses

The following article was originally published by Conor Ryan in BostInno on February 23rd, 2015.

In an effort to jumpstart local businesses impacted by nearly 100 inches of snowfall over the past month, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has announced “Boston Bingo” — a game created by his Office of Economic Development that will run through March 15.

As part of the game, residents and visitors can either download a bingo card online or pick up a paper card at businesses around Main Streets districts.

The cards task participants with doing things such as “Grab A Burger” or “Visit Your Local Bookstore.” Submitting a winning card will enter players in a raffle with prizes such as Bruins tickets, a Hubway membership card and coffee with Mayor Walsh up for grabs.

“Boston Bingo is a creative way for residents to come together and support our local economy as we continue to recover from the historic amount of snow Boston has received this winter,” Walsh said in a statement.

Submitting a card with one line completed counts as one entry into a raffle, while a card that is completely filled out will see the player entered into the sweepstakes seven times.

Participants are required to take a photo of each location and post to social media with the hashtag #BosBingo in order to participate in the game electronically. The game also spurs residents to tag businesses in the tweet/Facebook post/etc. in order to boost publicity.

“We are excited to launch Boston Bingo,” said John Barros, Boston’s chief of economic development. “The weather has taken a toll on small business revenues, making it harder for them to pay their employees, or keep up with the costs of keeping their doors open. It’s so important that we do what we can to support them, and encourage our neighbors to do the same.”

This is not the first campaign established in Boston in order to help out slumping business in wake of a historical stretch of snow. Kevin Long, executive chef and partner at Big Night Entertainment Group, introduced the hashtag #DigOutDineOut as a way to get Bostonians out to patronizing local restaurants.

Multiple restaurants have already adopted the #DigOutDineOut moniker, including Strega Waterfront, The Blue Room and Kirkland Tap & Trotter.