George Kirby from the Newton Bicycle/Pedestrian Task Force has put together an interesting proposal for bringing the HubWay bike-sharing system to the soon-to-be-built Upper Falls Greenway bike trail. The general idea is to install Hubway stations at the Needham Highlands T stop, Needham St and possibly the Needham Business Center. This would give T riders, a fast, easy and safe route to the Needham St commercial district using the mile long dedicated bike trail that will run behind Needham St.
George’s proposal is in part a response to an alternative plan recently explored by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). MAPC released a report in March that explored the idea of using the Greenway route as a shared path for bikes and pedestrians and shuttle buses to the Needham Business Center. The MAPC study indicates that shifting the existing shuttle buses from Needham St on to the Greenway’s dedicated right-of-way would yield minimal savings in travel time and a negligible increase in ridership – and it would involve great expense.
George Kirby’s Hubway-on-the-Greenway plan has the potential to reduce travel time more than the shuttle buses. Better yet, it could underwrite the entire infrastructure of the Hubway system and operate it for three years for the same cost as just the feasibility study of the shuttle-bus-on-the-Greenway plan.
This makes sense for Newton and Needham Street but it would make even more sense for Needham and their Business Center. We’re hoping the proposal piques Needham’s interest and spurs their interest in extending the Upper Falls Greenway trail over the Charles River and into Needham.