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Going carless is getting easier

Because Bluebikes are free this Saturday, and Lime continues to expand

A bicycle which is painted blue. There is a sign that reads Massachusetts and BlueBikes that is sitting between the bicycle’s handlebars. Getty Images

We all know that traveling by car around here can be nothing short of nightmarish. But while Boston has long been touted as a walking city, sometimes a trip requires using something a little faster than your feet.

If you’re a longtime driver, it can be hard not to reach for those keys automatically. But this weekend, you can break the routine. Bluebikes is at it again, offering free rides all day on Saturday, August 10. This “Adventure Pass” is sponsored by specialty outdoor retailer REI, which wants to encourage people to spend time outside. The company has even put together a list of possible destinations to check out if you’re looking to explore somewhere new. “While it’s fun to take a backpacking trip up in the White Mountains or spend a week out on the Cape, the city is full of opportunities to get outside and discover something new,” says Paul Gannon, REI regional experiences manager for New England. In other words, you can take a really good daylong staycation or microvacation tomorrow.

Bluebikes’ co-owning municipalities of Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Everett, and Somerville have banded together to offer free unlimited two-hour rides on Saturday. Securing a ride requires logging in to the Bluebikes mobile app that day and selecting “Adventure Pass.”

After Saturday, the prices go back to normal levels: Annual memberships with unlimited 45-minute rides cost $99, while income-eligible residents over the age of 16 can get 60-minute unlimited rides by paying $5 monthly or $50 annually.

Currently, Bluebikes has more than 3,500 bikes and 300 stations in the Boston area. Since the bike-sharing program launched in 2011, riders have taken over 9.4 million trips; 1.2 million of those were taken this year alone. The all-time daily record is 13,203 trips, and Saturday might be the next record breaker, weather-permitting.

Oh, and after you’ve gotten on board with biking, you can go for a spin on a e-scooter, thanks to companies like Lime, the largest e-scooter and bike-share provider in the U.S.; it’s currently operating in 11 Boston-area suburbs, like Malden, Chelsea, Watertown, and Arlington. To stay ahead of rival firm Bird, Lime aims to innovate. It recently announced it’s phasing out pedal bikes in favor of battery-powered, pedal-assist bikes that can reach speeds as fast as 14.8 miles per hour.

Brookline, which is intensifying its interest in micromobility, launched a pilot program on April 1 that allowed Lime, Bird, and Spin to roll out 100 scooters each. The program did well: Lime has reported more than 50,000 rides taken by more than 20,000 people. What’s more, the company says it’s upped its Brookline fleet to 150 from 100 to keep up with demand. Bird’s takeaway from the pilot is also positive: its users prefer e-scooters over cars. “21 percent of Brookline riders said their last Bird ride replaced a trip that would have otherwise been taken by a car or rideshare service,” the company said in a statement.

“Brookline has a long history of supporting new reliable, sustainable modes of transportation—and we have to continually make improvements to our infrastructure to ensure everyone can use them safely,” said Brookline transportation administrator Todd Kirrane.

The town is continuing the partnership, believing it enhances protections for riders of all stripes. It’s enforcing bike lanes and repurposing parking spaces for scooter use in dense pedestrian hubs; you can call them “mobility hubs” now. “Brookline is paving the way toward a multi-modal future that will benefit all street users, whether they are scooting or not,” said Scott Mullen, Lime director for Northeast expansion. Brookline will likely become a model for other cities and towns.

Are we ready for all this change? We need to be. As parking garages slowly become antiquated ideas, now is the time to try something new.