Hub Set To Launch Bike Share Program

As early as this summer, residents and visitors taking quick trips in Boston will be able to rent bicycles from dozens of sidewalk kiosks, under an agreement expected to be signed today that will create a bike-sharing network inspired by those in Paris and Washington.

Boston officials said the system, to be called Hubway, will open in July with 600 bicycles and 61 stations in the city, though they envision growing in a few years to as many as 5,000 bikes at more than 300 kiosks, from Brookline to Somerville.

At an afternoon ceremony with bicycling advocates, Mayor Thomas M. Menino is scheduled to sign a contract worth nearly $6 million with a company called Alta Bicycle Share to build and operate Hubway for three years. Alta is also behind a program that debuted last year in the Washington area and now boasts 1,100 cherry-red bicycles at 114 stations.

No local tax dollars are being used to establish the bicycle rental system. Instead, the city is using grants and donations to cover the start-up costs, while corporate sponsorships and revenue from riders will cover annual operating expenses.

Local officials and planners believe Hubway will generate 100,000 trips in its first year, filling gaps not served by the MBTA and attracting casual bicyclists who until now have avoided biking in the city because of the cost and other challenges associated with owning, storing, and maintaining a bike in Boston.