New research by Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) analyzing more than 300,000 bicycle-sharing trips shows increasing demand in the Boston suburbs, and Arlington is among the top communities for such use between October 2018 and last September.

LimeBike rollout at Town Hall, June 2018Roll-out of LimeBike at Town Hall in June 2018.

These results also show low use during winter, so  Lime, in town since June 2018, is suspending winter operations between December and March.

Malden remains ahead of all other municipalities, with 450 trip starts per 1,000 persons (residents plus employees) over the one-year period monitored. Following were Everett, Arlington and Winthrop, each of which saw between 200 and 360 trips per 1,000 persons over that same period.

Read the report

The interactive report -- see it here >>  -- uses detailed trip-level data from the Lime system, to map trip patterns and pinpoint the most-frequented routes over 18 months from April 2018 through September 2019.

The data, which include individual trip routes without tracking information about the habits of individual users, shows that connections to transit were a relatively small share of Lime bike trips: Only 15 percent of trips began or ended within 100 meters of a subway, trolley, Silver Line or Commuter Rail station.

Instead, many trips took place within communities, to and from points of interest or between municipalities where transit connections are limited. City or town centers and commercial districts have the highest density of activity, but trips spread out into residential neighborhoods, which tend to be the end-point of trips more than the start.

The average trip length was just over one mile, and the highest frequency of trips took place between 4 and 7 p.m.

“This analysis shows how new forms of so-called ‘micro-mobility’ can be quickly adopted by all kinds of communities and serve a unique role in the transportation system,” said MAPC Transportation Director Eric Bourassa in a news release. “It also shows how important it is for public agencies to
have access to detailed data that can inform planning and policy.”

Lacking bicycle infrastructure

Analysis of the trip data demonstrates that in many places, Lime users were riding on roadways with limited or no existing bike infrastructure, such as bike lanes, physical separation from traffic, and easily-navigable turns and crossings. Sweetser Circle/Revere Beach Parkway in Everett, Commercial and Centre Streets in Malden, Washington Street in Newton and Arsenal Street in Watertown are all examples of roadways that saw high volumes of Lime ridership but are currently stressful for bicyclists.

“We’re looking forward to using this new data resource as another piece of information to plan for new bike infrastructure that will make people feel safe and comfortable biking around Newton so they don’t feel the need to drive for every little trip,” Nicole Freedman, director of transportation planning for the City of Newton, said in the release.

The information comes as a result of a data-sharing agreement between Lime and MAPC, which created the regional framework that allows Lime to operate in over a dozen communities in greater Boston.

"Greater Boston currently suffers from the worst traffic congestion in the nation, affecting everyone who lives, works or studies in the region. Yet while nearly 50 percent of trips in the region are less than four miles, people still overwhelmingly choose to drive," said Scott Mullen, Lime director of Northeast Expansion.

"MAPC's unprecedented analysis of data from our regional bike share system will enable cities and towns to prioritize safe, inviting infrastructure, which will entice people out of their cars for those short trips and help to ease congestion for all."

The 16 municipalities served by Lime and included in the data analysis are Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Milton, Needham, Newton, Quincy, Revere, Waltham, Watertown and Winthrop.

June 29, 2018: Manager unlocks bike-sharing for Arlington

This news announcement was published Monday, Nov. 11, 2019.