Boston has a new bike-sharing system. Hundreds of people showed up at Government Center Thursday for the official launch of what's being called Hubway.
The program will have more than 600 bicycles available for short-term rental at 61 sidewalk vending stations spread across the city. Forty rental stations are open now; many of them are near MBTA stops.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said the goal of Hubway is to make the city more bicycle-friendly and reduce the reliance on cars.
"The car is no longer king in Boston," Menino said. "Boston Bike Share represents how far we have shifted in our thinking about transportation in our city."
It's the first program of its kind in Massachusetts. Other cities, like Washington, Denver and Minneapolis, have launched similar bike-sharing programs in recent years.
Critics say Boston's narrow, winding streets are less than ideal for bicycles. Menino said the city has added 38 miles of bike lanes and hundreds of bike racks.
User fees and corporate sponsors will fund the program. Rentals cost $5 a day or $85 for annual memberships. More than 700 people have already signed up as members.
Joel Tenenbaum, a regular biker from Brighton, checked out a Hubway station in Kenmore Square Thursday. He says he likes the idea.
"There will be an adjustment time when people have to figure out what to do with all the extra bikes sharing the road," Tenenbaum said. "But I think it's a good move in terms of making it a more bike-friendly city."
Officials are planning to expand the program into neighboring Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville.
With reporting by WBUR's Kimberly Adams and The Associated Press
This program aired on July 28, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.