Expanded bike sharing is crossing town lines
15 cities, towns add dockless system
In Arlington, Scott Mullen of LimeBike, Selectman John V. Hurd, Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine, and Eric Bourassa of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council at Town Hall. (Town of Arlington)
By Jennifer Fenn Lefferts
Globe Correspondent

Looking to get from Arlington to Winthrop? Or maybe Needham to Milton?

By the end of the summer, people who live, work, or visit 15 communities in Greater Boston will be able to rent bikes using a smartphone and ride them anywhere within those cities and towns.

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council has created a new regional dockless bike share service for 15 participating communities — Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Milton, Needham, Newton, Revere, Waltham, Watertown, and Winthrop.

Malden, Everett, Chelsea, Winthrop, and now Arlington have all launched with LimeBike. Arlington kicked off its service June 28. Watertown plans to launch soon, with the other communities to follow, officials said.

“Dockless bike sharing brings another transportation option to residents that offers both convenience and a method to reduce one’s carbon footprint,’’ said Arlington Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine. “As this new program grows we hope to find cost-efficient means to expand the region.’’

In Arlington, LimeBikes will initially be stationed at a handful of spots around town. Riders use a mobile app to locate the bike closest to them, unlock it, and pay for it. The cost starts at $1 for the first 30 minutes.

“We are pleased to see more opportunities for active transportation become available to cities and towns across the region,’’ said Marc Draisen, executive director of the MAPC. “This regional dockless bike-share system will provide a new mobility option for Arlington residents as well as enhance connections to transit.’’

The system will allow users to pick up and drop off a bicycle nearly anywhere in the participating communities, although some cities and towns may choose to assign designated parking locations.

Users lock and unlock bicycles with a smartphone, but measures will be taken to ensure those without smartphones, and those who prefer to pay with cash, can use the system.

The launch of the dockless system will bring bike sharing to areas outside of the municipalities currently served by BLUEbikes, formerly Hubway — Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline. BLUEbikes will soon expand to 300 stations and 3,000 bikes.

Several communities, including Waltham, Malden, Chelsea, and Revere, piloted dockless bike share in fall 2017, and have joined the MAPC’s regional effort to make cross-border travel easier and safer.

“Increasing access to healthy and affordable transportation options, such as dockless bike-sharing systems, is congruent with the city’s efforts toward enhancing infrastructure and increasing the safety of all roadway users,’’ said Thomas G. Ambrosino, Chelsea’s city manager. “A regional system providing connections to neighboring municipalities will certainly benefit our residents.’’

Officials said the other communities should be rolling out the service within the next month.

“Bike share is an exciting development for Bedford,’’ said Margot Fleischman of the Bedford Board of Selectmen. “As one of the Minuteman Bikeway communities, Bedford benefits when people choose biking, and bike share will encourage people to use bikes more often for their transportation needs. It provides a convenient way to get exercise or run an errand, and importantly fills critical gaps in our public transit system. Our business community embraces wellness and adding this amenity will strengthen Bedford’s reputation as a desirable place to work.’’

Jennifer Fenn Lefferts can be reached at