Credit: Brogan Graham

Last night at the Boston Public Library, Boston Bikes held its 4th Annual Boston Bike Update to discuss highlights, challenges and the future of biking in the hub. Hosted by LivableStreets Alliance, leaders in the cyclist community, including Boston’s Transportation Commissioner Thomas Tinlin and Nicole Freedman, Boston’s Director of Bicycle Programs, outlined their visions to make Boston a better, safer and more accessible city through biking.

Steve Miller, a volunteer board member of the LivableStreets Alliance, discussed the nonprofit’s five “game changers” for 2012. Topping his list was expanding Hubway by making it both stronger and bigger, and also by incorporating it into the city infrastructure. Miller also championed creating a bicycle network, developing an open streets program, connecting Boston to surrounding areas through regional greenways, and prioritizing bicycling, walking and public transportation.

Freedman, the city’s “Bike Czar,” took the stage, championing members of the community for their innovation and service in the cycling space, as well as presenting an extensive numbers on the past year of cycling in Boston.

Here’s an overview of 2011:

  • Boston ranks in the top 12 Bike Friendly Cities in the nation, according to the League of American Cyclists
  • There’s been a 50 percent increase in cyclist ridership since Boston Bikes launched in 2007
  • 15,000 – 20,000 new bike trips a day
  • In its first year, Hubway riders took 140,000 trips & boasted 3,750 members
  • Hubway has 61 existing stations and has plans for up to 30 additional stations across the city
  • 62 percent of Hubway members are Boston residents and 80 percent of Hubway members work in Boston
  • Hubway eliminated 11 percent of vehicle trips and 42 percent of public transit trips
  • The Boston Public Library, South Station & Bolyston at Arlington were the top three most frequented Hubway stations in regards to daily trips
  • Boston Bikes distributed 5126 helmets in 2011
  • The Boston Bicycle Network now has 52.2 miles of bike lanes, including Mass Ave. and HarborBike
  • 279 tickets were issued to drivers for improperly driving near a cyclist; 220 tickets were issued to cyclists for not obeying the rules of the road

Freedman specifically championed the “new cyclist,” a commuter who combines several modes of transportation to get from point A to point B, such as biking, walking and public transit. Last year, Hubway users championed the “new cyclist” mentality, with 39 percent of trips also involving public transit, and 54 percent of trips combining walking.

Innovation was a key theme of the evening, and Freedman specifically called on Marty Walsh, founder of Headquarters Boston and Geekhouse Bikes, for his work in fostering a collaborative community of cyclists, enthusiasts, businesses and the like. “That’s true entrepreneurship,” Freedman said.

Additionally, with an increased emphasis on safety, Freedman said the city hopes to have a pilot of the Hubway helmet dispensers created by MIT students on the streets by this spring.

John Bilderbeck, Director, Community Cycling Programs, also presented a redesigned Boston Bikes website. Currently in beta form, the site focuses on the cyclist community here in Boston, with increased photos and links to advocacy groups than the current site, as well as a new feature called “Bike Community  101,” which highlights quick facts and laws about cycling in Boston.

In conclusion, Freedman outlined goals to make Boston a “world class” biking city: expanding Hubway; planning a bike network; adding 15-20 miles of bike lanes, increasing helmet use, safety and education; adding 500 new bike parking spaces; and finally, increasing community biking programs and events such as open streets initiatives.

Gear up, Boston. It’s going to be a great year for cyclists!