I wanted to resist when I saw the bike stations pop up overnight. I wanted to fight back when I saw the rows of gleaming, new bikes. However, once I saw those first few riders navigating the streets of Manhattan, I succumbed and signed up for an annual CitiBike pass.
For three weeks I waited, enviously watching riders zip about town while i walked the sidewalk with the regular prisoners. Finally my CitiBike key arrived in the mail last weekend.
Now, it was time to ride.
My first excursion wasn’t without problems, all of them traceable to my refusal to read the introductory packet. Stupid fine print. Three stations and a fair amount of head scratching later I finally sorted out how to unlock a bike and I was on my way.
I rode from 7th Avenue and 15th Street up to 7th and 31st. I must admit, it was glorious! The bike lane up 8th Ave was comfortably busy with fellow CitiBikers and plenty of other cyclists. The breeze and ease of my commute mitigated the heat and humidity. I pulled into my destination station just steps away from work, locked it up and headed inside.
I’ve taken ten rides so far. Seven of them would have been cab or subway rides. Three were walkable, but biking it was so much fun and much faster. At $2.50 a subway ride the annual pass should pay for itself quickly.
Availability around the busier transportation hubs can be tricky so prepare to know where all the nearby stations are located. The CitiBike app is a great help showing realtime availability as well as best routes for getting around the city.
The bikes are solid, heavy and slow which is perfect for pounding the potholes of New York City’s streets. The brakes are good and the ride is comfortable. With only three gears and 40 pounds of bike, there won’t be any land speed records broken, but that seems to be by design. They are built for durability, not speed.
After one week I am hooked. Let’s hope the city supports and builds out the program across all five boroughs. While there are plenty of detractors, this is a service that could positively impact the city in so many ways.
Get out there and ride. Then let me know what you think. Happy riding!