Officials welcomed the arrival of the city’s first approved bike share program this summer, which has since generated mixed reactions among residents over its safety and practicality.
Newton joined 15 other neighboring communities in the Metro Boston area to participate in the Lime bike share program, where residents can hop on and drop off Lime bikes. The process to rent a bike requires the download of the Lime app or access to the Lime website, a given code to unlock and lock the bikes, and a small fee of 1 dollar per 30 minutes of riding for renting the bike.
“I am incredibly excited about the new bike share program,” said Mayor Ruthanne Fuller. “It has been an intensive process selecting the bike share company most suited for Newton, and the Lime Bikes are finally here.”
According to Fuller, the idea of incorporating a bike share program into Newton had been around for a couple years now, and only this spring did the city decide on using Lime bikes, after much investigating into various bike share programs.
Shortly following the introduction of the Lime bikes, members in the Newton community reacted with mixed opinions to the new bright green bikes.
Newton resident and North parent Michael Chinitz said he was very much in favor of incorporating a bike share program in the city.
“Bike share programs allow there to be less road congestion, allow people to get exercise, and are also relatively cheap in price,” noted Chinitz.
Sophomore Emma Larson added the Lime bikes also help encourage community members to try a new, more environmentally friendly form of transportation.
“The Lime bikes also benefit students as students can ride them easily without having to worry about them being locked up or stolen,” said Larson. “For students who can’t drive yet, they are an easy way to get around.”
Junior Maya Lobel noted what concerns her the most about the Lime bikes is the safety of the bike riders.
“While the bikes may promote biking, they don’t deal with bike safety,” added Lobel. “I think we should encourage more people to bike, but providing access to bikes isn’t helpful if it’s not safe to bike in Newton. The community should not only promote biking, but also find ways to make biking in general safer.”
In response to concerns regarding safety while biking, Fuller said “We’re working hard to improve the condition of our streets and make sure that they work for all modes of transportations.” To do so, the city is considering adding bike lanes around schools to make biking conditions safer for students, according to Fuller.
The organization of bikes is also an issue for the city, according to senior Maia Alberts.
“With so many bikes going around, and no defined bike docks, maintenance for the bikes is going to be costly,” said Alberts. “I think the ideas and inventions behind the Lime bikes are very good, but in the long term these bikes will be difficult to maintain and scattered everywhere, causing a nuisance.”
According to Fuller, the decision to use dockless over docked bikes was made because deckless bikes are more convenient and customer friendly. To avoid bikes causing potentially dangerous situations for passing pedestrians and cars, the Lime app also explains to riders which places are appropriate to park bikes.
Chinitz also noted that safety procedures about biking aren’t properly addressed to Lime bike riders. “The random placing of bikes doesn’t bother me, however people riding the bikes aren’t being educated about riding etiquette, the rules of the road, and the importance of wearing a helmet,” said Chinitz. “Many Lime bike riders who may be commuting to work on busy roads don’t always wear helmets, which is incredibly dangerous for riders and makes them prone to serious head injuries.”