Some thoughts on Citi Bike
I’ve been anxiously anticipating my first ride on New York City’s new bike share program for over a year. The delays have been frustrating, but it was worth the wait. I found myself checking the app all day yesterday in Ohio, sad that I wasn’t in town for the launch day, and curious to know how the bike stations were balancing out throughout the day.
Cody and I got home today and were thrilled to have our key fobs waiting for us in the mail. After dinner we went out for our first ride. Having enjoyed bike share programs in places like Montreal and Vienna, I was worried my expectations would be too high. Nope. It’s great!
The bikes are 45 pounds and often referred to as “tanks” in the press. I found them extremely easy to ride. You’re not going to win a race, but they ride at a great pace around flat Manhattan. The seat is easily adjustable, and you can note what number is most comfortable for you for future rides. The unlocking and docking process was incredibly easy.
The best part is that random people were constantly having conversations with us. Every time we stopped at a light a driver with his window down or a pedestrian wanted to ask us all about the program. Everyone seems genuinely excited about it. It was probably the most I’ve ever talked to my neighbors on the street, except maybe when I walked home drunk in 2008 after Obama won.
We are getting helmets tomorrow, and I’m actively looking forward to biking to UCB East for a 10 PM show. I haven’t owned a bike since I lived in Queens in 2003, despite the fact that I LOVE to bike. I’ve never had a place to store a bike, and after having 3 bikes stolen on the streets of Astoria, I gave up. Bike share solves these problems.
In a perfect world, Citi Bike would be funded by some sort of tax on automobiles (gas tax, congestion pricing, etc.) and we wouldn’t have 6,000 Citi advertisements roaming our streets. As much as I hate outdoor advertising, this is how advertising is supposed to work— we put up with ads because you give us something fantastic in return.
I’m sure there will be issues with the program. There will be accidents. There will be theft and vandalism. There will be inventory issues with some bike stations. There will also be car accidents and subway delays. Transportation in a city of 8 million will never be perfect.
But tonight it felt perfect.
And honestly, I think this is going to be a huge game changer for the city. Our quality of life just took a big step forward.