The City of Newton will expand Bluebikes, opening four new bike stations with 44 more bikes, later this spring.
Shared Winter Streets, a MassDOT program that supplies grants for transportation projects, gave Newton a grant of $199,919 to expand the Bluebikes. The increase in stations will give bikeshare users more options of places to pick up and drop off their bikes, according to an email update from Mayor Ruthanne Fuller.
Locations for the new bike stations have not yet to be determined, but according to Nicole Freedman, Newton director of transportation planning, Newton Highlands and various locations in Newton South are potential locations.
“Our goal is to really build a good network of bikeshare stations,” Freedman said. “And I think if we can get the number of stations up to, you know, 10, 15, 20, then we really have a viable system with a lot of origin destination combinations in Newton.”
Bluebikes is a bikeshare system that allows users to pick up a bike from a designated station and drop it off at various other stations throughout Boston. Bikers then use an app to pay for the amount of time that they used the bike.
Last year, the city installed eight Bluebike stations in locations such as West Newton Square and Newton Center.
“We definitely wanted to have more stations to make it function more as transportation,” Freedman said.
The city partners with Motivate, a company that helps bikeshare systems operate, to ensure the safety of the bikers, Freedman said.
“We have an operating partner, Motivate, so we’re contracted with them and they do the operations, and they definitely do have protocols for COVID,” Freedman said.
The Bluebike company also sanitizes the handlebars and seats of the bikes when they reach their depot, according to the Bluebike website.
To help ensure the safety of riders, the city is also urging people to bring their own helmets when using the bikes, according to Freedman.
“There’s not an adult helmet law so it’s not required to wear helmets, but we always recommend people do,” Freedman said.
Massachusetts has helmet laws mandating that people under the age of 16 must wear a helmet when riding a bike. This law does not cover the Bluebike audience because the bikes are only available for those who are 16 years of age or older.
The new bikes are coming just in time for spring, a season in which the city expects the ridership to be high, according to Freedman.
Featured Image by Keara Hanlon / for The Heights