Hubway pro tip: Unsticking stuck bikes

With Hubway season almost over, you may not get much use out of this, but file it away for the spring: Chris Snyder recently discovered a trick for getting a Hubway bicycle that's stuck in its docking bay.

Sometimes, Hubway bikes refuse to be undocked. The gears on the dock whir for a bit, and then it flashes a red light of failure (not to be confused with an always-on red light that signifies the bike needs to be repaired). But the bike's merely stuck, probably from being improperly docked the last go-around.

When this happens, the trick is to push the bike into the dock as hard as you can, as if you're trying to dock it. The dock should let the bike out if you do this. I've had success each of the three or four times I have tried this technique thus far.

I know that sharing this tip means I'll have even slimmer chances of getting a bike from Kendall Square after 5:15pm, but that's okay, because Hubway apparently just added another docking station by the Kendall T, thank goodness.

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    When docking, you may have to reach down in front and lift up the triangular docking thing and gently (without smashing fingers) engage it before pushing the bike in.

    File under: stuff girls have to learn

    Don't lift the bike!

    There's no need to ever lift the bike into the dock, no matter what you've seen people attempting.

    Usually the reason the bike won't dock is because whoever's returning it is trying to very gently slide it in. These things are ridiculously durable so don't worry about breaking them. Simply take the bike and FIRMLY drive it into the dock.

    If none of the lights start blinking, then it might be an issue with the dock.

    Not the bike, silly

    The triangle thing in the front - it tends to flop down with wear and submarine the docking thingy. Pick up the TRIANGLE THINGY to slide it into the TRIANGLE THINGY SLOT.

    Lift the back of the bike

    I've found it's handy to lift the back of the bike by the seat and drop it a few inches above the ground while pulling back. The bouncing normally releases it from the rack.

    I don't use Hubway often but I'm glad it is around. Pretty annoying that they are going to take the system down pretty soon -- no reason why it can't be run all winter like it is in many other cities.

    Going down

    Do you know the date when they are ending service for the winter and do you know when they will start back up?

    A few reasons:

    1) Snow removal: The docking stations could block, or be damaged by, plows and snowblowers. Also, it'd be really hard for Hubway to have to specially shovel out all of the docking stations.

    2) Snow and ice damage: The bikes and electronics in the docking stations would be horribly damaged while sitting buried in ice and snow.

    3) Liability: The first person to get run over by a plow or spin out on black ice without a helmet will sue Hubway for leaving the bikes out during unsafe weather.

    Not good reasons

    Plenty of other cold cities run their bike shares throughout the winter. I'm pretty sure the now-delayed NYC program was to be year round and they get nearly as much snow as we do. I could understand removing some of the stations where they are on the street but it seems most stations are on the sidewalk anyway.

    The bike docks are built to withstand winter conditions and the bikes would be fine -- they'd just need a little more oil on the chain. The nice thing about drum brakes is that they aren't affected by snow and ice the way rim brakes are. It was good thinking on the part of the bike designer.

    As for Liability I can't see how they are any more at risk in the winter then in the summer. The risk of liability is extremely high regardless.

    Last winter is a good example of what shouldn't happen. After the Halloween storm they removed the docking stations. Then we had a mild, snowless winter which was just fine for bike commuting. If they are really worried about snow then simply lock out the system during major storms and let people ride a few days later when the streets are plowed.

    Winter closings: neither bad nor rare

    "Plenty of other cold cities run their bike shares throughout the winter."

    What other cold cities have a comparable bike share program?

    Other than those two, the other bikes share cities of which I am aware (London, DC, Melbourne) are in places that experience milder winters than we do. I think removal is the sensible thing to do.

    Bixi Toronto for one

    Bixi Toronto is year round although they close for big storms. The NYC system will be year round. Capital Bikeshare in DC is year round and there have been years where they got more snow then we did. The German systems are also year round.

    It's certainly possible to run a bike share system when it's below freezing. Given how the ridership of Hubway has far exceeded initial estimates it's likely the same would be true for winter riding.

    I'm glad too! We can be glad

    I'm glad too! We can be glad together!

    Or, if you don't like it: eat a dick. Or move. No skin off my back. We as a community pay for things that make our municipality better, safer, healthier, more accessible and more fun. If you don't like these things, I suggest you try a state that feels like you do. Maybe Nebraska is your cup of tea (bagger). Your loss will not be greatly felt, I assure you.

    Great Idea

    Then I can bring it on the red line's bike car when I commute.

    Wait, we don't have those.

    Oh, but I can bring it on the special bike car on the commuter rail, as I live a mile from one station and work a mile and a half from North Station ...

    Wait, can't do that, either.

    I guess all those people who work in South Boston and come in through North Station can just ride the Glorious Silver Line Extension, instead.

    Oh, wait ...