At Monday night’s Council meeting, Councilors expressed concern over the City’s recent rollout of the Bluebikes program, and the discussion resulted in a unanimous called for an emergency meeting with Mayor Carlo DeMaria and the representatives of Bluebikes.
In an effort to reduce vehicular traffic, the City recently entered into a contract with Bluebikes, a bike-share program that allows riders to rent and return bicycles at numerous locations. Councilors were told that they would be involved in the Bluebikes launch process, until they noticed docking stations cropping up all over the city.
Councilor Fred Capone wanted to know the terms of the contract that the City entered into with Bluebikes and specifically whether or not the company will be required to pay a fee for profiting off of its presence in Everett and taking up space on public sidewalks.
The councilman lamented that the City had not taken such an approach when it began working with Lime, another bike-share program in Everett, and considers it “a missed opportunity.”
“We could have done good things with that money, something tangible and beneficial for the community,” he said.
The councilor spoke favorably about bike-share programs in general, saying “it serves a wonderful purpose because we want to get cars off the street.”
He also cited the health and environmental benefits of biking, but said that no company should be able to come into the city and profit off of public use without giving back to the host community.
Councilor Capone also wanted to find out how the docking station locations had been determined and why Council was not made a part of this process.
He said Bluebikes had installed a docking station of 15 bikes and a large advertisement in front of two residential properties along Main Street, a move he said has property owners irate.
Councilor Michael McLaughlin shared his colleague’s concerns, adding that some of the locations of the docks have bikes backing out straight into oncoming traffic, which could lead to cyclists being run over.
“The Bluebikes rollout was a disaster,” he said. “They just dumped them. Who came up with the idea to put them where they put them? Not one of them makes sense.”
“This program needs to halt immediately until we come to these chambers and have a discussion with Bluebikes about who gave them permission to put them where they’re located, who came up with the map of where they’re going to be located, and how we’re going to move them because they can’t stay where they are,” said the councilor.
Councilor Stephen Simonelli agreed with taking immediate action.
“This should be shut down tonight,” he said through his spokesperson. “It’s a nuisance and a public safety issue. If someone pulls out of that bike rack and gets killed, are we responsible?”
“We were told we were going to be part of the process and we weren’t,” said Councilor Capone. “We’re requesting that no more bikes be put out until we discuss it.”
The matter was referred to the City Clerk, who will be in charge of scheduling a special meeting of the Council’s Committee of the Whole along with representatives from the Bluebikes, the Mayor’s Office and the Planning Department.