Bikeshare company Lyft Bluebikes opened its latest docking station at Arsenal Yards with some fanfare last week. It is the fourth in Watertown with three more planned, and Town officials say they have already drawn a lot of interest.
The first Bluebike station in Watertown opened in August, as part of a five community expansion, which also included Newton and Arlington. Three of the Town’s stations in are on public land, but four will be located on private property, said Laura Wiener, Watertown’s Transportation Planner.
Arsenal Yards is the first to open on private property, and is located next to the sidewalk near Frank Pepes Pizzeria (the historic building which was Old Navy’s former location).
Andrew Copelotti, a principal at Boylston Properties — the developer of Arsenal Yards, said the Bluebikes will be another option to people driving to Arsenal Street and the former Arsenal Mall.
“A lot of people worked a long time to find transportation solutions for Watertown,” said Copelotti, who thanked Wiener and others from Watertown.
Wiener said she has been encouraged by the use of the first three stations in Town.
“We have more than 1,300 trips originate in Watertown,” Wiener said. “That’s 1,300 trips made by people who are not using their cars.”
The other Bluebikes stations currently operating in Watertown are in Watertown Square near the Charles River Path, in Coolidge Square in front of the playground at Mt. Auburn and Arlington streets, and on North Beacon Street at North Beacon Court, Wiener said. The most popular one has been the one in Watertown Square.
When asked if Bluebikes stations will be installed on the Westside of Watertown, Wiener said. “Will it go West? Not in this phase. Maybe — hopefully — in the future.”
Assistant Town Manager Steve Magoon said that he believes the BlueBikes provide a convenient option for people.
“It allows the community to take an alternative form of transportation,” Magoon said. “You can take a bike — they do not have to be pre-booked. It can be spur of the moment — and take it into communities around us, like Cambridge or Boston.”
Watertown Bicycle & Pedestrian Committee Chair Andy Compagna said the likes the new location at Arsenal Yards because it is near the Charles River Path and the Cambridge-Watertown Greenway that will link Watertown with Fresh Pond. The section between Arlington Street and the pond in Cambridge is due to open next Spring, Compagna said.
The stations were paid for by a variety of sources, Wiener said, including a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), the Town used some of its Transportation Network Company funds (paid by ride share companies like Uber and Lyft), and donations from the private groups. On Friday, Copelotti presented a $10,000 check to the Town of Watertown on behalf of Arsenal Yards and the Hampton Inn Suites being built in the development.
Bluebikes General Manager Dominick Tribone said the company is excited to be in Watertown and thanked Boylston Properties for helping it become a reality. He also thanked the company’s title sponsor Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.
There are around 350 stations around the Boston area. Bluebikes started as Hubway in 2011, with stations in Boston, Cambridge, Brookline and Somerville. Last year, it expanded into Everett, and this year into Watertown, Newton, Arlington, Chelsea and Revere.