By John Lynds
With the city planning to bring up to 10 new Hubway stations to Eastie by the fall, Boston Transportation Department’s Kim Foltz led a community workshop last Thursday at the East Boston Branch Library to begin getting ideas on where in the neighborhood the bike docking stations should be placed.
At the meeting, Foltz explained the the stations vary in length and hold either 15 bikes or 19 bikes. The docking stations also can either be placed on the street or on sidewalks if the width allows the city to do so without impeding pedestrian traffic.
Foltz said that the goal in Eastie is to have the docking stations to be a five to ten minute walk from each other.
“This is an alternative mode of transportation,” explained Foltz. “This is not a bike riding for pleasure program and we look at it as a way to fill in the transportation gaps and needs in the community.”
For example, while the MBTA Blue Line runs down the center of Eastie, there are transportation gaps to get from the neighborhood’s MBTA stations to points in Jeffries Point, Eagle Hill or Orient Heights Hill. The workshop’s goal was to identify these gaps and see where Hubway would work best.
“So let’s say you get off the MBTA at Airport Station or Maverick Station and you need to run errands in Central Square, that might be a transportation gap that Hubway can fill because you’d be able to pick up a bike near the T, ride to Central Square, dock the bike and then do your shopping.”
Foltz said placing the docking stations in and around commercial areas tends to help the local economy.
“What we find is that members of the program tend to shop and spend money near were the docking stations are located,” said Foltz.
As residents broke up into teams to begin placing markers on a large map of Eastie, the group had to balance the transportation needs of the community with existing obstacles.
First, two thirds of the Hubway docking stations are off-street, which means they are placed on sidewalks. However, while several streets in Eastie have wider sidewalks other areas of the neighborhood are a little tighter. Foltz said there are advantages to the off-street docking stations like the fact they are able to be used longer during the year.
“Our off-street docking stations can be placed and remain open all year except for basically January and February while our on street stations have to be pulled up in November and not put back until spring.”
With parking always an issue in Eastie the group has to also identify areas where on-street docking stations could be placed without impacting on-street parking.
“We can look at corners or areas mid-block that shouldn’t have cars parking anyway,” said Foltz. “Placing a docking station at these ‘trouble spots’ can have a positive affect as it solves illegal parking issues.”
As the group worked to pick locations, many of the smaller groups identifying the areas of Jeffries Point, Eagle Hill, near Liberty Plaza and Orient Heights Hill as definite areas that could benefit from Hubway.
However, while the group was charged with finding preliminary locations for 10 Hubway docking stations, Foltz said that four to six of the stations would be ‘sponsored’ stations. Foltz said the neighborhood will have a less flexibility placing those stations in and around the neighborhood.
People will also be able to prioritize specific locations via a survey conducted by street teams from the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing and the East Boston Social Center, via an online version of the survey.
Foltz said the community will meet again in August to finalize locations and if all goes well, permitting and installation should happen by September.
Jesse Purvis, Paul Rogers and Kim Foltz during last week’s Hubway workshop that began identifying locations in Eastie where Hubway docking stations could be placed.
Working with a large map of Eastie, residents got to work looking at were the best locations for Hubway could be in the neighborhood.