Boston Won’t Have Hubway This Winter, But Cambridge Will

The bike share company is going to test how well it works in the cold New England weather.

By | Boston Daily |

Cambridge just one-upped Boston.

While Boston residents won’t see a Hubway station on the streets this winter, riders on the other side of the Charles River will be able to get around, and will become the test subjects for a year-round pilot project where bikes will be available, even if there is snow on the ground.

According to a press release from Hubway officials, the public bike share system will continue to be available to riders throughout winter at almost all Cambridge-based stations. “While Hubway has always operated on a seasonal basis in its two-and-a-half year history, this year the city of Cambridge is piloting a plan to provide year-round Hubway service,” they said.

For the most part, all of the stations will remain unchanged during the winter season. A few changes will include closing the Lafayette Square and Main Street station, and moving the Lechmere station to the sidewalk just east of where it is now. All station updates will be posted on the station map on Hubway’s website.

Workers from the company will be out on the streets if it snows, clearing it away from the stations if it becomes a problem.

During extreme inclement weather conditions, Hubway may temporarily close the system, and public announcements will be made via social media, according to the company. “We are pleased at the opportunity to pilot Hubway service year-round,” said Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi. “We’re committed to supporting sustainable transportation options, and we are excited to continue the program this winter season.”

Rossi warned riders ahead of time to be patient as they roll out the year-round service for the first-time ever in the area. He also expressed concern about cyclists using extreme caution when riding in winter conditions.

Hubway offered a list of tips for riders who might brave the extreme cold, and hop on a bicycle. They also said riders can still take bikes into Boston, but need to return them to stations. “Riders can still take Hubway bikes into Boston or surrounding areas, but just like any other time they’d have to return it to an active Hubway station. We don’t think it will create additional problems, but we do want to get the word out about available stations, safety, cold-weather riding considerations,” a representative said in an email.

It was the fear of such wintry weather, however, that kept Boston officials from wanting to leave their own Hubway bikes out on the roads this season.

Hubway and Boston’s bike program director, Nicole Freedman, recently announced that stations closures in the city would begin this week. Freedman cited worries of the bikes becoming rusty, or worn out, a risk the city wasn’t ready to take this year after numerous discussions about the feasibility of keeping Hubway on the roads year-round. “After looking at a lot of factors, we decided against it,” Freedman said, citing the preservation of the “investment we made in the equipment.”

Freedman said the city was going to monitor how Chicago fared, since they were keeping their own program running this winter, but now they can simply look to their neighboring city at the end of the year.

Seasonal closings of stations in Brookline and Somerville also began on Monday, November 18.