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Boston planning to deploy electric BlueBikes in 2024

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

I really didn’t think I’d have to pull out the air conditioner in April. With temperatures well into the 80s — and possibly near 90 —across Massachusetts, today will feel more like mid-summer.

Still, there’s no avoiding what time of year it really is: budget season.

It was Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s turn yesterday to unveil her multi-billion spending plan for the next fiscal year, with millions of dollars in new investments on long-term priorities like achieving universal pre-K and improving public housing. But buried deep within the over-1,000-page budget document, there’s a change that city officials are hoping to bring to the streets within the next year: electric Bluebikes. Wu’s proposed budget would spend $1.4 million to introduce electric-assist bikes into the regional bikeshare system. Wu press secretary Ricardo Patron told me that they plan to turn more than 15% of the Bluebikes fleet into e-bikes, through a combination of city funds and other secured funding sources. (The current fleet stands at around 4,000 bikes, so we’re looking at upwards of 600 e-bikes.)

  • The timeline: Patron says the rollout will likely come next spring (though he added they’re aiming for ASAP).
  • How they work: Don’t confuse e-bikes with dirt bikes or motor scooters. There’s no throttle. The e-assist bicycles that Wu’s administration plans to purchase look like traditional bikes, but they have a battery-powered motor that kicks in to help when you start pedaling hard (think: going up hills).
  • Bluebikes won’t be the first bikeshare system to roll out e-bikes. New York City’s Citi Bike introduced the electric-assist models — capable of going up to 18 mph — into their system last summer. (Here’s a photo of Boston’s chief of streets giving one a test ride.)
  • The Bluebikes system set repeated ridership records during last year’s Orange Line shutdown. With any luck — and a little electric boost — future T diversions might be a bit less sweaty.

Could Massachusetts restore recently expired eviction protections for renters? As part of the House’s proposed budget yesterday, they are seeking to permanently bring back a pandemic-era measure known as Chapter 257; it required eviction cases to be paused if a tenant has an application pending for state rental assistance.

  • The House is slated to vote on the measure — along with the rest of their $56 billion budget proposal and tax reform plan — today.
  • Looking ahead: The Senate and Gov. Maura Healey will also have to agree to the change. If they do, the eviction policy could be back by this summer.

Hey, hands off that baby wild animal! Spring in Massachusetts means you may find baby deer, rabbits or birds in your yard. But state officials are reminding residents not to feed or touch them. And please don’t try to make them a pet — as cute as they may be.

  • MassWildlife’s Martin Feehan tells WBUR’s Samantha Coetzee that they’ve seen a “disturbing trend” in recent years of people taking young animals captive, particularly white-tailed deer fawns. “It’s led to some pretty tragic outcomes,” Feehan said. “And we just don’t want to see those tragic cases continue.”
  • So, what should you do if you come across a baby bird, a nest of newborn bunnies or another young animal in your yard? MassWildlife has a list of tips for each specific situation here.

Martha’s Vineyard has voted to effectively ban miniature alcohol bottles. According to the Vineyard Gazette, voters in Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, the island’s only towns with liquor stores, approved proposals on Tuesday night to ban the sale of the bottles.

  • Zoom (slightly) out: It’s a movement with momentum on the Cape and Islands. Nantucket, Falmouth, Wareham and Mashpee have all banned the bottles, and Bourne will vote on a ban next month.
  • PSA: Don’t call them nips! Boston City Council President Ed Flynn is urging people against the common name for the bottles, which has also been used as a slur for people of Japanese descent.

P.S.— You’ll be seeing a lot less of WBUR on Twitter. We’ve made the decision to stop posting on the social media platform from WBUR’s main account in solidarity with NPR, after Twitter owner Elon Musk misleadingly labeled the organization “state-affiliated media” and then “government-funded media.” (Government funding accounts for less than 1% of NPR’s annual operating budget, and both NPR and WBUR have strict guidelines to maintain editorial independence.) You can read more about the decision here from WBUR CEO Margaret Low.


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



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