Sharing the Road

Two bike sharing programs expand on Harvard's campus

Bike Racks
Nicholas M Mendez

This photo from March 6, 2012 shows a bike rack similar to the ones that will soon be filled with bicycles from Hubway, a regional bike sharing program that allows one to check out bikes from anywhere between 30 minutes to a day.

UPDATED: March 16, 2012, at 9:03 p.m.

Commuting from Harvard Business School to the Innovation Lab, first-year Business School student Ahmed A. Makani navigates the streets of Allston on a bicycle to cut down commuting time.

But Makani doesn’t own a bike.

Before arriving on campus, Makani purchased a membership to Hubway—a regional bike sharing program—that has since allowed him to check out bikes from stations throughout Boston.

Hubway lets citizens ride bikes without owning bicycles. A user can check out a bike from a station on a local street with the swipe of a credit card for 30 minutes to a full day, then pedal away.

As Harvard and the city of Boston both look toward sustainability, the University has begun contributing to Hubway, a growing local bike sharing program.

As of Thursday, the previously empty bike racks at Soldiers Field, Harvard Business School, and Harvard’s Longwood Medical Area in Boston will be filled with bicycles, courtesy of Hubway.

A student-run bike sharing program called CrimsonBikes, which offers a similar service, is working on its own expansion.

Both programs speak about the same goal—making it easier for Harvard community members to get around on two wheels.


Hubway serves Boston and plans to extend to Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville this summer. The company, which is sponsored by New Balance, is operated by Alta Bike Share, which also oversees programs in Melbourne, Australia, and Washington, D.C., and will soon expand to Chicago and New York City.

“One of the things that was compelling was that it was a public bike system that had been used before at the large scale and was a little more advanced than others,” says Nicole Freedman, director of the city of Boston’s bike program.

The effort to bolster biking has been supported in part by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who launched an initiative in the fall of 2007 geared toward promoting sustainability and health and reducing obesity.

“Cycling is at the intersection of all of those. Boston is one of the first cities to have a full bike share program,” Freedman says.

According to Freedman, 15,000 to 20,000 people ride bikes every day in Boston, and Menino’s initiative has directly created more than 200 jobs.