League of American Bicyclists board member Vivian Ortiz talks Women's learn-to-ride clinics, returning lost bikes, and her involvement in bringing Bluebikes to Mattapan
You've been involved with Bluebikes for years, what's your Bluebikes story?
The first time I heard of bike share in Boston was through the City of Boston's women's learn-to-ride clinic. I learned how to ride a bike in that program, and started attending as many workshops as possible every summer. Not because it took me years to learn how to ride, but because I wanted to be there to cheer on the new riders. At the end of each session, students receive a complimentary Bluebikes pass to encourage them to continue biking. I didn't use the pass for a while because we didn't have any stations in Mattapan at the time. I started asking my neighbors to tell the city where they wanted to see stations added, and they listened. In September 2018, we received four Bluebikes stations in Mattapan. And I was so excited when I helped unveil the Mattapan unicorn bike during the September 2018 launch of Bluebikes in Mattapan Square!
Do you have a Bluebikes membership?
After we received Bluebikes in Mattapan, I got a membership. Since I own a bicycle, Bluebikes works as my back up plan. On mornings when it's rainy, and I prefer to take the train, I can still grab a ride on Bluebikes and ride home when the skies clear. Riding a bicycle helps me clear my mind, and since a Bluebike is much sturdier than my bike, I’m able to slow down, take my time, and check out my surroundings.
Any interesting Bluebikes stories?
One night last fall, I rode the Mattapan trolley home from Ashmont Station. It was drizzly and cold and I wasn't looking forward to the 14-minute walk home. As I exited the trolley, I saw that someone had left a Bluebikes bike on the platform! The nearest dock was in Mattapan Square, which connects to several bus lines. I quickly checked the bus schedule, rode to the Square, docked the bike, and caught the bus home! Some folks would think I was crazy, but it turned out to be a great multi-modal one-person relay event!
What do you hope for the future of Bluebikes?
Once stations are added in Hyde Park, a person in Boston will be able to ride a bicycle from one end of the city to the other. That's amazing. I’m also excited that the $5 monthly membership offers individuals with less income a reliable form of transportation, and the recently announced expansion of Bluebikes to other communities near Boston provides another transportation option to more people. I personally don't own a car and I have to travel to Chelsea every once in a while for work. Soon I'll be able to take the T, then grab a Bluebike to get around Chelsea.
Above all, the opportunity to get more #buttsonbikes is what really excites me!