1 more Hubway station coming

September 15, 2011
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One more Hubway station is coming soon to the Longwood Medical Area (LMA), joining three of the bike rental program’s stations already there and two in Mission Hill, the Gazette has learned.

The popular new program might expand more in the neighborhood next year, but there are still no plans to tell the general public where the new stations would go, city officials told the Gazette. The local stations went in with virtually no public input.

The upcoming Hubway station will be on the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) campus at Autumn Street and Longwood Avenue. It requires some site preparation that is under way, according to BIDMC spokesperson Jerry Berger.

Existing Mission Hill stations include Brigham Circle in front of Penguin Pizza, and Roxbury Crossing at Tremont Street and Columbus Avenue.

Existing LMA locations include: Avenue Louis Pasteur and Longwood; Avenue Louis Pasteur and Blackfan Circle; and Longwood and Binney Street.

Ridership numbers for specific stations are still unavailable. But since the program began in late July, there have been over 52,000 individual bike rentals, according to Nicole Freedman, director of the city’s bike program.

“We’re well above our expectation,” she said.

Hubway, which uses solar-powered racks of bikes for automated rental by credit card, is operated by a private corporation called Alta Bicycle Share. The company previously referred all Gazette questions to the Mayor’s Office.

Freedman said there was a “substantial public process” about Hubway locations. Will Onuoha, the local coordinator from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, described it as a “lengthy public process.”

Yet they acknowledged that there was no general Mission Hill notification or meeting about Hubway locations. The Mayor’s Office for months did not respond to Gazette questions about proposed locations until well after they were in operation.

MASCO, the umbrella organization of LMA institutions, worked with Alta and the city to propose station locations and sign up sponsors. But MASCO also was unaware of actual proposed locations, its officials previously told the Gazette.

Asked why a list of proposed locations was never released to the public, Freedman said, “From a logistics standpoint, it wouldn’t really work that way,” because the list changed regularly.

However, Hubway was able to get necessary approvals for most of its proposed stations from Boston city agencies, including the Public Improvement Commission, the Disabilities Commission, Public Works and the Boston Transportation Department, she said.

Onuoha said the public outreach part is notifying immediate abutters. In Mission Hill, he said, he notified Mission Hill Main Streets and Penguin Pizza about the Brigham Circle location. The Roxbury Crossing location, he said, has “no abutters.”

Some Hubway station locations have proven to have problems—including the on-street Brigham Circle station, which was damaged apparently by a car backing into it, according to Freeman. The station was moved around to avoid that problem, she said.

As the Gazette previously reported, the Beacon Hill Civic Association managed to get input into local Hubway locations and found significant issues with them, including safety concerns. Freedman said two of those relocated stations are still awaiting permitting approval.

“We had a lot of interaction with abutters who sent out complaints,” including around Faneuil Hall downtown, Freedman said. The stations are heavy but are not attached to the ground, so they can moved if someone notices a problem, she said.

The City does not intend to do any different public process on new Hubway stations, Freedman said.

One place Hubway definitely will not appear is city parks. Hubway stations are covered in advertising logos, and “we don’t allow advertising in parks,” said Boston Parks & Recreation Department spokesperson Jacque Goddard.

For more info on Hubway, see thehubway.com.

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