Boston is joining other major cities, including Washington and Paris, by starting a bike sharing program that will allow residents and visitors to rent bicycles for short trips in and around the city.
The system is scheduled to open in July with 600 bicycles stationed at 61 kiosks around the city. The goal is have as many as 5,000 bikes at 300 kiosks.
Mayor Thomas Menino signed a three-year, nearly $6 million contract Thursday with Alta Bicycle Share to build and operate the system, called Hubway.
"People can ride a bike from Dudley Square to Faneuil Hall," Menino said. "They could drop the bike off there, then walk along the waterfront and pick up another bike to return to their neighborhoods."
Menino also touted other positives associated with the deal.
"As much fun as it's going to be, a bike share program is a key component of our climate plan, serving as a crucial link to our walkable neighborhoods, and serving as a last mile of mass transit," he said.
The deal doesn't use any local tax dollars. The program's start-up costs are being financed by grants and donations, while corporate sponsorships and revenue from riders will cover annual operating expenses.
Memberships will range from $5 for a day to $85 annually. Riders will rent the bikes using a card swipe system. Trips under 30 minutes will be free.
The chunky, fat-tired bikes are designed to be usable for novices. But the die-hard cyclists gathered at City Hall cheered loudest Thursday when Menino proclaimed, "The car is no longer king in Boston."
The Boston kiosks opening this summer are only the beginning of a planned regional system. Somerville will add six kiosks next year.
With reporting from The Associated Press and WBUR's Adam Ragusea.
This program aired on April 21, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.