[Xconomy] Carless in Cambridge: Bike & Car Sharing and the Future of Traffic

The following article was originally published by Wade Roush, in Xconomy on August 15th, 2014.

Wade Roush is the Acting Director of Knight Science Journalism at MIT.

Nine weeks ago, I lost my fancy hybrid street/trail bike to one of San Francisco’s plentiful bicycle thieves. Seven weeks ago, in preparation for a big move east, I sold my car. Now I’m settling into a new apartment in Cambridge, MA, and for the first time in my adult life, I don’t own a set of wheels.

It’s a strange feeling—both disorienting, since it takes a little longer to figure out how to go places, and liberating, since I no longer need to pay for gas or worry about where to park my car or lock my bike. At the moment, I have no plans to buy a new car, and I’m not even sure if I’ll get a new bike. Thanks to the Boston area’s extensive public transportation system and its dense vehicle-sharing network, I don’t really need them…

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6 Reasons for Companies to Bike Share

Tom Davis writes about personal finance – including tips to save money and time, and increase productivity.

Bike share companies are popping up all over the country to provide residents with quick and affordable transportation. However, these fleets of bicycles offer a lot more than an alternative ride home - they’re an excellent solution for companies looking to provide community-boosting employee benefits. Check out these six reasons why you should consider joining a bike share program and subsidizing the price of membership for your employees.

1. Reduce Transit Concerns

Major metropolitan areas aren’t known for quick-moving traffic during rush hour. Many employees struggle to get to work in the morning, fighting traffic jams and unexpected accidents. Even folks taking public transport have to leave home early to account for traffic and multiple stops along the way.

For any employees living within cycling-distance of the office, bike share programs provide them the opportunity to breeze past traffic jams and speed up their daily commutes. According to research gathered in London, many users replace public transport with cycling, and reduce their commute time by 20% as a result. Not to mention, the more people using bikes to travel to and from work, the fewer people there are on the roads jamming them up.

2. Support a Green Environment

Bike share programs also support a greener environment by reducing air pollution. As more people ride bikes to and from work, to run errands, or tour the city, fewer cars are on the roads emitting noxious gas. In a time where a company’s carbon footprint is every bit as important as an individual’s, supporting your employees’ pro-environment habits can seriously boost your company image.

3. Encourage More Activity

My background is in exercise science - in fact, I have two degrees in the field. I can say confidently that the activity level of the majority of Americans ranges from poor to very poor. Apart from affecting physical health, this is also associated with mental health, productivity, memory, and mood. If you can promote activity amongst your staff, you’re likely to end up with a group of individuals who get more done and maintain a better attitude than their less-active peers. Who wouldn’t want that?

4. Improve Employee Health

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, adults should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity the majority of the week to maintain health and ward off chronic disease. By making it easy for your employees to ride a bike on their commutes, take a mid-day cycle with co-workers, or run errands with their bikes, you’re supporting their ability to achieve those recommended levels of physical activity.

And guess what? If your staff members exercise more, they’re less likely to get sick. And, if they don’t get sick as frequently, your health insurance rates could go down. It’s a win-win for everyone.

5. Enhance the Workplace Atmosphere

The great thing about having a fleet of bicycles available at your fingertips is it becomes incredibly easy to organize health-focused workplace outings. Schedule a weekly group ride through a local park, or organize a monthly restaurant trip for those willing to ride a bike there. The more you support a fun, relationship-building environment, the more likely your employees are to actually enjoy work.

Encouraging this type of outing may inspire your employees to organize their own trips during the day. For instance, rather than driving five blocks to a print shop and spending 20 minutes looking for parking, they may grow accustomed to grabbing their bikes, running the errand, and returning - all in less time than it would have taken to drive, park, and re-park.

6. Support Local Businesses

According to research conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, a bike share program in the Twin Cities resulted in a spending increase near bike share stations of approximately $150,000 over the course of the season. Much of that increase was attributed to restaurants, coffee bars, grocery stores, and nightclubs. Essentially, those using the bike share program were more likely to head out to, and spend more at, local eateries. Companies looking to support their local economy should take these results into account when considering a bike share program.

Final Thoughts

Getting involved in a bike share program is usually easy, and, from a benefits standpoint, quite affordable. Bike share companies want to work with businesses, so they often provide a discount for each employee enrolled. For instance, Hubway typically costs $85 per year for an individual, but the price is reduced to $50 when a company signs up for a corporate account. Split that price between company and employee, and both parties get a deep discount. When you compare the cost to other benefits, such as gym memberships or employee meals, its advantages become very clear.

Do you have a bike share program in your area? Have you tried it out? Over 175 companies take part in Hubway’s Corporate Accounts program, providing memberships for their employees, offering health benefits, commuting options, and another fun way to stay active and get to work or anywhere else around town. Want to sign your company up? Visit the Corporate Member info page here.

New Station Alert: Channel Center - A Street / Richards Street

New Station Alert: Effective Friday afternoon, August 8th, the new Hubway station, Channel Center, is open & operational in Boston. This is a 19-dock station, located at the intersection of A Street and Richards Street, adjacent to the State Street Channel Center building.

Please use our Spotcycle app for smartphones or visit for up to the minute system information on system availability.

Thanks for using Hubway!

New/Returning Station Alert: Charles Circle, Charles Street at Cambridge Street redeployed

New Station Alert: Effective Friday afternoon, August 8th, the new Hubway station, Charles Circle, is open & operational in Boston. This is actually a returning station, being redeployed following a period of construction near the Longfellow Bridge. It is a 15-dock station, located near the base of the Bridge, on Charles Street at Cambridge Street.

During the 2013 season, the Charles Street station was the 3rd busiest Hubway station.

Photo by Wade Roush.

Please use our Spotcycle app for smartphones or visit for up to the minute system information on system availability.

Thanks for using Hubway!

Station Move Alert: West Broadway at Dorchester Street, South Boston (now on sidewalk)

Station Move Alert: The station located on West Broadway at Dorchester Street, in South Boston, will be moved today, Friday, August 8th, to the sidewalk, adjacent to its former location. This is a 17-dock station. There will be no additional changes to the station, though there may be a short period during the move when it will be inaccessible. An extended outage is not expected.

All apps, including Spotcycle, Hubway Tracker, and the official Hubway station map will be updated. Please look to those for up to the minute system information on system availability.

Thanks for using Hubway!