It is nice to share! And helmets are a must!
I was just riding a Citibike. I need to place the front wheel back into the grey dock. Or shove it in, or, wait, shove it in again. There, docked. Should I mention that the handlebars felt gooey and icky? No, details like that are discouraging.
Yes, I’m an annual Citibike member. Yes, I paid $95 to join ($103, including taxes). I was excited to imagine that I could zoom around whenever I wanted, without actually owning a bike. I suppose you can buy one for 103 bucks but hey, my studio apartment is too small and the bike room fee in my building is $100.
So win-win for me. Or spend $9.95 for a 24 hour pass or $25 for a seven day pass.
There is a bike hub just across the street from where I live and that thrilled me. Never mind that it is an uphill street. Details like that are discouraging. I understand that there was some naysaying over hub locations. Only recently, by Port Authority, I saw a homeless person camped out, some belongings hanging to dry on an unused dock. Isn’t that a sign of acceptance, or is that a discouraging detail? Wait! Citibikes are about sharing.
When I headed out, not too early, on Memorial Day, the official Citibike launch day, there was almost no vehicular traffic. Safe and, well, odd. Most Mondays I hear car and truck noise very early. I had looked up where other bike docks were located and kind of planned an easy route. There is an app available to locate bike docks and there are maps on each kiosk pointing out the nearby hubs.
I inserted the key and the red and yellow lights glowed. But no green light. Hmm. Tried again, keeping the key in the slot, pulling the key out. No green light. WTF? I hadn’t thought of that glitch. I thought there wouldn’t be enough bikes available. For some reason, I thought that thousands of bike share enthusiasts would be converging, using up all the bikes and leaving not a one for me.
I was stymied and alone so I walked away, figuring I would find another location and try again. As I turned a corner, a woman was struggling to unlock a bike in exactly the same way. We figured it out together – pull the key out, and yay, we had bikes. We high-fived each other and rode off, with her promising to wear a helmet next time.
Luckily, I got initiated on a very slow traffic day. The bikes are sturdy, easy to pedal and brake, and once you figure it out, a breeze to change gears. The street I started on had cars parked on both sides, no bike lane but most importantly, no impatient drivers. Sweet, easy, then a construction site blocked the road further down and that’s when a car beeped at me. And, I might add, quite aggressively, especially for a holiday.
I navigated pretty well and happily boasted about it to passersby. Then I got to my final destination and learned how to dock. Voila!
I’m not always prepared to ride around town because I WILL NOT ride without a helmet. I am freaked out when I see riders without helmets going the wrong way on streets, weaving in and out of traffic. Don’t these people realize that this is New York City, where cab drivers are known to defy the laws of physics by creating four vehicular lanes where there should be three? But what is still slowing me down with using a bike every day during rush hour is that there is WAY too much vehicular traffic. I am satisfied to enjoy the bikes on weekends, and late nights.
Overall I am a happy CitiBike share enthusiast. I hope more will join in. If you do, remember to wear a helmet, be courteous and please make sure that there’s a bike – and a parking space – left for me.
Editor’s note: If you have a Citibike experience you’d like to share, positive or negative, we’d love to hear from you.