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Hub and spokes

In Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline, bicyclists can grab and go in a flash.

It’s a warm afternoon in the heart of Cambridge’s Kendall Square. The cabbies lined up at the curb josh one another. Young technologists on the sidewalk throw around jargon like “start-up” and “SEO,” short for search engine optimization. The whole square, in the midst of a major renaissance, seems to thrum. So it’s only natural that this is where I find one of the busier neighborhoods for Hubway, the nearly two-year-old bike-share program that operates in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline. I knew it was popular — as of late May the service had some 8,000 members who had collectively logged more than 830,000 trips — but I hadn’t realized how effortless it was to grab or leave a bike at one of the 108 stations. Like hummingbirds around a flower, bikers pulled up to and away from the station in a flash, taking or latching a bike in a matter of seconds. Hubway stations have brought their own catalog of sounds to area streets, from the more high tech (a distinctive beep and whirr when you return a bike) to the timeless (the click-click-click from the bike’s freewheel when you ride one away). With horns blaring from clogged streets nearby, it seems like sweet music.

WHAT SOUNDS TELL YOU THAT SUMMER IS COMING?Send ideas to or via Twitter @swhelman.

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