It seems like practically all the blogs and NY media outlets are talking about yesterday’s long-awaited debut of Citi Bike. Like most other NYC cyclists, I am very excited that bike share has finally made it here, even though I am not a member and do not plan to join in the near future. The bike share program has huge potential to remake the city into a much more bicycle-friendly place and may encourage politicians to pursue much-needed additional bike infrastructure.
Reading the various reports coming out of the blogs and the media, you’d think there’s a Citi bike rolling down every street. Yet on this beautiful Spring morning, I saw plenty of fellow commuters on their own bicycles, including some of the usual suspects like the Running Cyclist and the Mayor of the Greenway. But I came across just a single one of the blue bikes in motion. Perhaps it is because the vast majority of my commute is outside the service area (only up to 59th Street for now). On the last stretch of my commute towards 39th St, I finally saw a Citi Bike at 43rd St. Also, as one can see in the photo above, it seems that the 39th St Ferry bike station is mostly full. I would have thought that more of the bikes would have been taken out as there are far more commuters coming in from NJ in the morning than the reverse. Perhaps the fact that NY Waterway provides a free bus deters potential users, or perhaps NJ residents are just slower to catch on to a new trend. For now, though, I remain just a bit disappointed with the paucity of new bicycle commuters.
Perhaps there will be more on my commute home, and perhaps there would have been more had I chosen to continue further South towards the World Financial Center ferry. In fact, I was tempted to do so just to catch a glimpse of more of the bikes in action, but alas, I was already running late after an earlier incident.
For now, though I am so tempted to try one out, my exposure to Citi Bikes will remain view-only. I cannot understand for the life of me why the service area was extended to Bed-Stuy before the Upper West Side. Hopefully Upper Manhattan will get its share of Citi Bikes soon, and then there may be a case for my becoming an annual member. Sadly, though, there isn’t even talk of extending bike share into the Bronx. Perhaps that is all right, since I can hardly imagine tackling some of the tough hills on my commute on a bulky bike share bike, and a 45 minute rental is not quite long enough for my commute anyhow. Maybe after the Greenway is extended to Riverdale, dramatically improving the accessibility and speed of my commute, we can revisit the idea.
Update from day 3 of Citi bike: The weather was not quite as nice as Monday, but still a bit better than Tuesday. I had some time to ride further South towards WFC, and I passed quite a few Citi bikes on the way. Here are a few photos for the curious: