Boston Cyclists Have Big Hopes For Bike Share

By Jess Bidgood and Ben Taylor   |   Friday, April 22, 2011
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April 22, 2011

A biker relaxes on the Charles River esplanade. (mcbrideh/Flickr)

BOSTON — This summer, a new fleet of sharable bikes is coming to Boston. On Thursday, Mayor Menino signed a $6 million contract with Alta Bike Share, declaring, "The car is no longer king in Boston."

The new bike-share program, officially named Hubway, will put over 600 bikes on 61 bike racks around the city. It's a bit like car-sharing service Zipcar, except members of the share can pick up a bike, take it where they need to go, and leave it in any rack they want. "People riding a bike from Dudley Square to Faneuil Hall, they can drop the bike off there, they can walk along the waterfront, to pick up another bike to return to their neighborhoods,” Menino said.
Menino's announcement touched off something of a celebration for dozens of cycling enthusiasts gathered on City Hall Plaza to watch (admittedly, their presence may have also been aided by free burritos). Ranging from young to old, this group of bike devotees might actually be the people least likely to use the share themselves, since many of the bikers already had their own bikes by their sides. But there was broad agreement in the crowd that the presence of a bike share can help Boston become a more two-wheeled city.
Samantha Wexler is the executive director of Bikes Not Bombs, a Jamaica Plain non-profit organization (recently rated the city's best non-profit by the Boston Phoenix) that uses bikes for community development. She said bike-share programs tend to encourage new or uncommitted bikers to look more closely at bikes as a viable transit option.
"People who maybe aren't used to biking in Boston will have an opportunity to try it,” Wexler said. "And the more people that we get on bikes, obviously, the more we begin to change what the city looks like."

Jed Jeng, a regular cyclist from Cambridge, came to the announcement because he's used a similar system already implemented in Montreal. He said a bike share won't just change the look of city transport — but what Bostonians can use it to see. "Hopfully, it'll allow people to take advantage of 'hidden gems' like (Somerville's) Union Square, which aren't really accessible on public transportation,"  Jeng said.
Nearby, 70-year-old Lois Levin talked about how difficult it's been for her to try and make her hometown of Newton more bike-friendly, mostly due to resistance from residents who complain that bike lanes narrow the roadways. She's wondering if the accessibility and utility of a bike-share in Boston won't change minds outside of the city.

And she pointed out that it might be people from outside of Boston who have the most to gain from the bike share, should they be unable to bring bikes into the city with them, but need to make short trips while there. “I would come into town on the T and use the bike share. I’m dying to use the bike share,” Levin said.

For 56-year-old Michael Blythe, news of a bike share couldn't have come at a better time. He lives in Savin Hill with no car, and used to bike around everywhere -— until his bike was ruined by the winter.

"I was going to have to buy one. So this is almost great timing for me,” Blythe said.

The program begins in July. Members can pay $85 to use the share for the year, or $5 per day. Rides under 30 minutes will be free.

Bryant: Race Was Factor In Weekend Abuse Arrest

By WGBH News   |   Tuesday, March 1, 2011
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Mar. 1, 2011

BOSTON — Sportswriter Howard Bryant is defending himself against what he says are racially-charged allegations of domestic abuse.

Howard Bryant, an author and senior writer for ESPN, stands prior to his arraignment in Greenfield, Mass. on Monday. (AP)

Bryant, a senior writer for ESPN, was arrested on Saturday after witnesses said they saw him hit his wife Veronique on the neck and push her into their car outside of a pizza shop in the Western Massachusetts town of Buckley.

But he and his wife both say it was argument, not an instance of abuse — and that observers and police overreacted because of race. Howard Bryant is black, and Veronique Bryant is white.

"If you read (my wife's) comments, she was never threatened in any way. This was a complete, total misunderstanding and overreaction." Bryant told WGBH's Emily Rooney. 

Bryant admits he and his wife were fighting outside of the pizza shop — and that he did make physical contact with her. "We were arguing about our marriage. We've been in a trial separation and we've been talking very seriously about a critical point in our marriage," Bryant said. "The type of physical touching was more in terms of, 'Listen to me,' and she was trying to guide me into a space away from people."

Bryant said the police came after the Bryants were in the car, with their son in the back seat. Witnesses say Bryant struck one of the troopers in the chest with his elbow, but Bryant denies resisting arrest.  

Veronique Bryant sat next to Howard at a court in Greenfield on Monday. She says she has never been a victim of domestic abuse. (AP)

Bryant is frustrated neither witnesses nor police asked he and his wife what was going on.  "Aggression over dialogue destroyed an afternoon for a lot of people," he said.

Bryant's attorney says he thinks race played a role in the arrest — and Bryant agrees. "When you try to spend your life to be a person of substance, you try to spend your life doing things the right way, and when all of that can get taken in an afternoon, yes, race did play a part of it," Bryant said. "When you read the police reports, the very first description about me in them is, 'This black guy.'"

"What happened on Saturday did not have to happen," Bryant said. "I think the hardest thing about this is I have a six-year-old that I have to explain this to."

Bryant pled 'not guilty' to charges including domestic assault and battery on Monday.

Shaq: Next Stunt Is Levitation

By Jess Bidgood   |   Thursday, February 10, 2011
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Feb. 10, 2011

Shaquille O'Neal accompanied his girlfriend, Nicole "Hoopz" Alexander (foreground) to WGBH on Thursday. (Jess Bidgood/WGBH)

BOSTON — Shaq's planning his next public stunt — and it's going to be magical.

The 7-foot, 1-inch Celtics player said on Thursday's Emily Rooney Show that he'll levitate over the TD Garden, with a little help. 

"Now, listen. I asked Criss Angel to levitate me over the top of the TD Boston Garden and he said yes so we just have to figure out a date," O'Neal said.

It will be the latest in a string of pranks, stunts and mini-performances that have endeared Shaquille O'Neal to Boston, a city that became his home when he joined the Celtics last fall.

On Halloween, O'Neal and his girlfriend, Nicole "Hoopz" Alexander, filmed a short video of Shaq dancing in drag, assuming the character of his female alter-ego, Shaquita. Earlier in the fall, he drew crowds when he posed silently as a statue in Harvard Square.

Mollie Woodworth: Neuroscientist

Thursday, September 16, 2010
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Developing Tomorrow's World Cup Talent

By Adam Reilly   |   Wednesday, June 18, 2014
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The New England Revolution Academy and similar programs run by other teams in Major League Soccer represent a seismic shift in the way Americans approach the world’s most popular game.

Pedro Martinez: The Man, the Myth, the Interview

Friday, June 29, 2012
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About the Authors
The WGBH News team comprises the WGBH radio newsroom, The Callie Crossley Show, The Emily Rooney Show and WGBH Channel 2 reporters and producers from Greater Boston and Basic Black. 
Jess Bidgood Jess Bidgood
Jess Bidgood is's news editor and producer.
Adam Reilly Adam Reilly
Adam Reilly is a political reporter and associate producer for WGBH's Greater Boston.


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