Posted by: holdenlee | September 12, 2012

Riding the Hubway

Today I used Hubway for the first time. Hubway is the bike rental system in Boston/Cambridge; it has stations scattered across the city, and you can rent a bike somewhere and return it somewhere else. I go to one of these bike stations, swipe my Hubway card (which looks like a thumb drive, but thinner and wider), and grab one of the bikes. Although, I fiddled with the machine for a long time before I realized I was supposed to insert my card into the slot on the individual bike rack, not the machine, and then it took me a while to figure out how to get the bike out of the rack.

Hubway station

There’s a Hubway diagonally across 77 Mass. Ave., the main entrance to MIT. Very convenient. As a MIT student I get membership for $25 per year.

I check out a bike around 11:30am, bike across the Harvard Bridge, and follow Commonwealth all the way to BU and farther. I had to consult my map several times, because I’d never taken Commonwealth all the way from Mass Ave until it hits Brighton and then becomes North Beacon. Since there’s a rule that rides beyond 30 minutes cost money (rides less than 30 are free), I returned my bike somewhere around BU, and try to check it out again immediately, but it won’t let me. (I actually wasn’t very near the limit, but I wanted to be sure.)

I walk up the street for 6 minutes (walking seems slow after biking) and come to another Hubway station, and this time it allows me to check out another bike. The bike lane ends, and I have to just stick to the side of the road. I ride to where Brighton becomes North Beacon; there I return my bike. At noon I come to Grasshopper’s—a yummy Asian vegan restaurant which has large and cheap  lunch specials (but only on weekdays) ($6.25, $1 extra for brown rice). My free Wednesdays are a great time to go. Boston has quite a few good vegan/vegetarian restaurants: my favorite is My Thai Cafe in Chinatown. Besides My Thai and Grasshopper, there’s also the cafe at the 佛光山 Buddhist cultural center, Veggie Galaxy close to MIT (American food), and Peace of Pie (vegan pizza), which is just two doors away from Grasshopper. Incidentally, there’s also a vegan ice cream parlor at the same intersection, which I haven’t tried yet.


I order stir-fry vegi-beef with broccoli, and it comes with soup. Their hot and sour soup is really good.

Hot and sour soupvegi-beef with broccoli

After lunch (12:45) I head back. For someone who’s never really gotten around a city on bike, biking is awesome. What would be a 1-hour walk becomes a 15-minute bike ride. On the downside, Hubway bikes are a bit heavier than the usual bike (I don’t know why they make the frame and tires so fat). I’m not very familiar with city biking—should I jaybike across the street?—but other bikers do it so I follow them.

I made the mistake of biking down the underpass under Mass Ave, so I had to turn back once I got up again, maybe lost a minute or two? I cross the bridge (takes 1 minute and 45 seconds, which means I biked at \frac{2165 \text{ ft}}{1.75 \text{ min}}\cdot \frac{1 \text{ mi}}{5280 \text{ ft}}\cdot \frac{60\text{ min}}{1\text{ hr}}\approx 14\text{ mph}. I return my bike to the MIT station, although the bike didn’t seem to insert into the rack properly and the red light kept flashing. And then it inserted but didn’t give me the green light that was supposed to signal a successful return. I’d put my bike in the last slot, though, and and someone else came up with a bike… She said she’d thought that this might be a problem… I told her how Hubway resolves this: you go to the kiosk, it gives you 15 more minutes, tells you where the nearest station is, and you can go return it there. I guess this isn’t very optimal, though, if you have an appointment to go to (which she did).

Anyway I was running late for my Project Lab meeting, so I hurried there. I called customer service about the fact that my bike rack didn’t give me a green light; the guy was helpful and said the bike is shown as returned, nothing to worry about.

So that’s my experience with Hubway:) I think it’s a wonderful service and I’ll definitely use it a lot more (particularly on my free Wednesdays to grab nice vegan food).

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