Cycle around Boston

by Beacon Staff • October 6, 2011

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strongAlexandra Fileccia, Beacon Correspondent/strong

With about half an hour to spare, senior Katelynne Shimkus sails down Commonwealth Avenue from Allston on a New Balance Hubway Bicycle.  From there, the writing, literature, and publishing major cuts through the Public Garden and locks the Hubway bike at the Stuart Street station.

Shimkus takes this route whenever she goes to class. Her own mountain bike forces her to ride in a crouched position and is slower due to the thick tires, so she prefers to use rented Hubway bicycles.

On July 28, Boston launched a bike-sharing system called New Balance Hubway, which includes 61 stations and 600 bicycles, with plans to expand into surrounding communities, according to its website, thehubway.com.

Boston is not the only major city in the U.S. that has a bicycle-sharing system. Capital Bikeshare, which launched almost a year ago, is a similar program in Washington D.C. and Arlington County, Virginia.

To use the public bikes, you first choose one of three membership plans: 24-hours for $5, three days for $12, or annually for an introductory offer of $65, a current savings from the regular cost of $85. Then go to the kiosk, retrieve a renting card, and take the available bike out of the rack. You can lock up your bike in New Balance Hubway station, even if it’s not your original starting point. Rides less than 30 minutes are always free if you are a member.

As an added bonus, there is no risk of someone stealing your bike while in class. There have been six bike thefts on campus since July, but Hubway cyclists don’t have to worry: the public bicycles go back to the stations.

“I have the option of taking the T back,” Shimkus said about using Hubway bikes, “Whereas with my own bike, I have to ride it back home.”

Senior marketing communication major Kristen DeTroia rides her own bike to school instead of using the bike-sharing system.

“[Riding your own bike] is faster than public transportation and doesn’t cost money,” DeTroia said.

Because Hubway is convenient for her, Shimkus said, “It basically pays for itself.”

For sophomore Joelle White, a marketing communication major who lives on campus, Hubway bikes are useful for going to friends’ houses in the area and commuting after the T’s final train leaves. However, she said that riding these bikes takes a little getting used to.

“They’re really heavy and have no suspension,” White said, “[but] as long as you know how to ride a bike, you will be able to adapt.”

Another negative aspect of using this system is that you never know if there will be an open spot at the nearest station.

Shimkus said, “More than once I have taken a Hubway home to discover that the stations near my house are full.”

Hubway stations near Emerson include locations on Stuart St. just around the corner from the Cutler Majestic Theatre, on Tremont St. by the Park St. T stop, and on Boylston St. by the Arlington T stop.

emFileccia can be reached at/em

em alexandra_fileccia@emerson.edu./em

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