Bluebikes are more popular than ever. But who's driving the surge in ridership?

A woman returns a Blue Bike to a station in Kendall Square. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A woman returns a Blue Bike to a station in Kendall Square. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

Hope you all enjoyed the long — and in my opinion, quintessentially autumn-like — weekend. If you noticed the moon looming large on the horizon, that's because we had a spooky blood moon. Check out these photos of it over the Boston skyline from WBUR's own Jesse Costa.

Have you recently hopped on a Bluebike? You're not alone. WBUR's Rob Lane reports that the Boston area's bikeshare system is more popular than ever — and there's been an interesting shift in who is riding them.

Bluebike usage spiked during the Orange Line shutdown, during which officials made the bikes free to use. In fact, the system broke its daily ride record nine times during the shutdown. And since the shutdown ended, ridership has remained a little higher than usual.

But: it's not commuters driving this demand. Bluebikes General Manager Dominick Tribone told Lane that ridership is highest on the weekends. It's part of a trend they've been watching since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, when peak ridership days flipped from weekdays to weekends. Tribone says they believe it's a combination of locals using the bikes for leisure, visitors and weekend workers.

Could the fact that it's free be the cause of the spike? Lane reports that Mayor Michelle Wu's administration is exploring options to provide free or discounted bike passes to residents on a permanent basis. They also plan to expand the network. Wu's office recently announced they're aiming to add 100 more Bluebikes stations in the next three years.

It looks like we'll have to wait for the result of this fall's gubernatorial election to see if Massachusetts will heed President Biden's call for the pardoning of low-level marijuana convictions at the state level — because the current governor doesn't plan on it. WBUR's Walter Wuthmann reports Gov. Charlie Baker thinks the state's existing expungement process for anybody convicted of simple possession of marijuana is sufficient. He recently signed a sweeping marijuana reform law that, in part, aims to make that expungement process easier — though it's not automatic.

What's the difference between a pardon and expungement? Legal experts say it's like forgiving versus forgetting. That's because pardons don't necessarily clear one's criminal record, though they can be issued en masse by an executive official.

What's next? Democratic gubernatorial nominee Maura Healey says she would follow Biden's call to pardon simple pot possession crimes, while GOP nominee Geoff Diehl says he wouldn't.

Heads up for anyone out on the roads late tonight: MassDOT is closing all northbound lanes of I-93 through the Tip O'Neill tunnel from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. tomorrow for "multiple maintenance activities." Access will be closed from exit 15B/Mass Ave. exit to the Haymarket area. The closure also means no access to I-93 northbound from the Mass. Turnpike on-ramps.

So, be cautious and slow down if you're driving up I-93 toward that area; there'll likely be a traffic backup.

P.S.— Do you know whose land you're standing on? This interactive map shows which Indigenous tribes lived where you are. All you have to do is enter your address.

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Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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