Sign of Spring: Hubway Will Reopen April 17

Was it ever really gone?



You know it’s spring when Boston’s streets start to show signs of green…metallic bike frames. That’s right: Hubway, the Boston-area bike-share network, will reopen for the season Friday, April 17.

To what extent, though, did Hubway even really go away? The system has been inching closer and closer to year-round service since launching in 2011. This year, not only did Cambridge stations stick around through the winter, several of Boston’s stations remained open through December.

And why not? New York’s, Toronto’s, and Chicago’s programs all operate year-round, and those cities certainly don’t lack for snow. If ever there were going to be a winter that deterred us from the notion that Hubway could function year-round—or that anyone would even want it—it would have been this godawful one. And yet, Cambridge riders showed a resilience in the face of record-setting snow. The weather forced four system shutdowns. But according to Hubway, there were, on average, 1900 Hubway trips taken per week between January and March, with no reports of major incidents. The morning before the January 26 blizzard, with a storm warning in place and wind chill temperatures below zero, 70 riders used Hubway before 9 a.m.

Of course, there are challenges and logistical impediments to winter service. When Boston stayed open through December, it could only keep up a selection of the Hubway stations that were located on plazas and sidewalks, because street-side stations threatened to interfere with snowplows. Those challenges aside, there’s clearly demand. And why not? With the MBTA’s aging equipment breaking down so often, a lot of people would probably prefer a quick—albeit cold—Hubway trip over a long, bitter wait on an outdoor Green Line platform for a car that may never come.

Boston will keep 13 stations that sit along the marathon route off the roads until the race, but apart from that, the system should be ready to go for commuters on Friday morning. For some, though, it will be like they never left.