Probably the worst thing that can happen to a meeting on biking in Newton is a violent thunderstorm that includes lightning streak skies and a massive downpour.
That’s what happened Monday just as the Newton Bicycle Advisory Committee started its annual update. So a lot of us arrived wet.
Most of the updates weren’t all that shocking. The city has a great comprehensive plan to bring bike lines to all parts of the city. You’ll see more signs and lanes in the coming weeks and months. More people are biking and the police have done a great job in educating students on bike safety. Also, as noted earlier on Village 14, the city won an award for being well on way down the path for bike friendliness.
Most interesting to me is the fact that the committee is working to bring Hubway to Newton! I love the idea, as I use the bikes around Boston, but I’m wondering how they’d work in a bedroom community like Newton. In my ideal world everyone is within a 5 minute walk of a Hubway bike, but maybe I’m just being too ambitious. A bike only works if you can get one where you are and can drop it off where you’re going. So, for example, having one near the T doesn’t make sense if it can’t get you from the T to your house. A good place to start would be the map of bike parking in the city.
It caused me to think that elementary schools would make sense as Hubway locations. I see a lot of parents driving their kids to school on the way to work, but I where do they go after? If it’s to the train or bus station (I’ve seen many get on the bus in Newton Corner) would it make the most sense to pick up a bike at a school, ride it to the bus and then leave it? Would that encourage more kids to walk to school with their parents rather than jumping in a car?
I have no idea, just a thought. I know a lot of parents who drive their children less than half a mile to school and then return home, so it’s as much a habit as it is a convenience.
As for bike sharing itself, Mia Birk, the former bike coordinator of Portland who currently runs the company in charge of most bike sharing programs in the US delivered a great TedX speech about bike sharing. She pointed out that most people do their errands in within two miles, the perfect distance for a bike. Think about what’s within two miles of your house, you may be surprised.