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Hubway is getting a brand makeover. And soon you'll see a lot of blue bicycles around the region.
The Boston-area bike share system announced Wednesday it's entering a six-year partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and that this spring Hubway will relaunch as Blue Bikes. (The bikes will literally go from being silver and green to blue in color.)
Along with the name and color change, the system will expand: The number of bikes will grow — from 1,800 today to 3,000 by the end of 2019 — and there will be more than 100 new bike stations.
Blue Cross Blue Shield will invest $18 million into the bike share program, according to Kathy Klingler, the company's chief marketing officer.
Klingler said the program is a natural fit for the insurer.
"We saw it as a natural extension as an existing commitment to healthy living and sustainability," Klingler said in a phone interview. "We also think about, it's a really affordable and environmentally friendly option that encourages people to incorporate exercise into their day-to-day lives."
Blue Bikes will continue to be owned by Boston, Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville, and operated by Motivate International Inc.
Blue Cross Blue Shield was selected as the "title sponsor" by the four municipalities after a bidding process, according to Klingler.
Klingler said the company is looking to expand the bike share system into under-served communities.
"We look at it as an investment that's going to allow for upgrades of the system — the transportation system — and bringing more access to our community," she said.
Bike advocates have long called for the bike share system to expand into under-served communities. In Boston, the system has already expanded into East Boston and parts of Roxbury and Dorchester, but much of the city's southern neighborhoods -- including Mattapan, Hyde Park, Roslindale and most of Dorchester — remain without bikes.
Klingler said the company plans to work with community partners in its efforts to expand the system.
Hubway said members' accounts "will seamlessly rollover to Blue Bikes."
With reporting by WBUR's Newscast Unit
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