Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Bike to Vote campaign will offer free two-hour Bluebike passes on Election Day.
Free access will be available at more than 300 bike stations in and around Boston.
Jeff Bellows, vice president of corporate citizenship and public affairs at BCBS, said the company is in a unique position to help, given current public health concerns.
“A lot of people, with COVID-19, they might be a little bit apprehensive to be on public transportation or to be in tight quarters with other people,” Bellows said. “This gives people a safe alternative mode of transportation.”
Bellows said BCBS may continue the program in the future.
“We certainly want to encourage people to vote this year and always,” Bellows said. “They can do it on Nov. 3 and take a Bluebike to get there, not only to get some exercise but also to exercise their civic right to vote.”
Any program that helps voters reach the polls can increase voter turnout, said Maurice Cunningham, University of Massachusetts Boston political science professor.
“It’s discouraging how low our turnout is for presidential elections: 50, 55 percent,” Cunningham said. “Maybe higher this year because it’s such a hotly contested race, but anything we can do to increase turnout is probably good.”
Younger people will likely use the program more than older adults, Cunningham said, because older people tend to have more mobility issues.
“They’re reaching out to younger voters. They’re encouraging people to register, which is critically important,” Cunningham said. “In that sense, it can be, particularly for young people, a very attractive option.”
Kristen Strezo, Somerville city councilor at-large, said she expects high voter turnout in Somerville, which has Bluebikes stations.
“Perhaps it could be an enhancement day of election if there was outreach in those regions where the polling locations have changed,” Strezo said. “But we’re also pretty confident that voter turnout is so high right now … we may have many, many residents that have already voted day-of.”
In past years, the Bike to Vote initiative has encouraged voters to bike to the polls, but did not include free rides.
Strezo said she hopes BCBS offers free rides every Election Day.
“Every way we can make it as easy and accessible to vote as possible,” Strezo said, “is only making it better for us as a community, and as a Commonwealth and as a nation.”