The Bike Share program starts next week for those members who've signed up for the annual program.
The program in short allows a user to take one of the hundreds of bikes available at sites the aforementioned areas and ride as result of a pre-paid membership or one the spot payment. The idea is to share, not hang on to, so the bikes have no lock, you're expected park the bike the bike share dock closest to your destination. Members can hop on a bike an bring it back as many times as like during the span of their rental, be it a week or a year.
I caught the Bike Share-Elves in action last month as they were installing the docks and I'm blown away with how many docks there are and how much coverage there is in the initial neighborhoods.
Of course this being New York, and the subject being related to Bikes people wouldn't feel complete without complaints. Mostly from people who see the program as being a clear sign that the Four Horsemen will be wearing helmets and navigating Bike Lanes.
Fueling some complaints I've heard and read is the fact that no one loves Citibank. Let's face it, they're fairly unlovable. But in this case I don't see any effective other way than for a corporation in need of loving to fund the startup costs. So far to my eyes, it's working, I've counted six bike rental stations, with at least 20 docks within one mile in Fort Greene & Clinton Hill. I've seen more over in midtown and financial district, so if you just consider commuting there's seems to be a potential for a lot of usage.
The other big complaint is that the bike docks are taking away from the city, in terms of culture and (heaven-forbid) parking spaces. People said the same thing about cars taking spaces from horses. I've witnessed a few places where I wish the bike docs weren't on the sidewalk (Lafayette Av between Hanson and Fort Greene Pl) but overall we're in a transforming city and world. Parking spaces are not a right, (which we all know living in New York) and I'd pick a bunch of bikes over a bunch of cars in most cases.
Regarding the parking spaces, I can't understand when people who don't even have a license to drive complain about parking, but hey we're New Yorkers. When I asked those complaining they said it's the cost of revenue from those parking spaces that they were upset about. So even though that only makes sense for spaces with parking meters, I checked with some people in the bike-share know, and they informed me that Citibank is paying the city for the use of the parking spaces. There, happy?
Besides the number of bike docks that have gone up in less than a month's time, I'm impressed by the bike itself (above), which looks just all purpose enough to be a good ride for most, and sturdy on the streets. citibike's site has details on the bikes the docks and all the membership options.
The rental bikes come with a bell and front and rear lights that work without batteries (the motion of the wheels power them) so you'll be street legal. In case you didn't know an under reported law was passed a few years back making it illegal for an adult to ride a bike in NYC without a bell and lights. Here's a link to additional rules for bike riding in NYC.
At first I found it surprising that there are no bikes in the massive bike parking lot behind the Barclays Center, then it hit me, Barclays is a bank too. Funny I thought they all colluded.
So I can't wait for the Bike Share to kick-off next week. I'll be rocking my t-shirt (special for early joiners) and ready to roll. I'm sure there will be hiccups, shortages of bikes in some areas, just like when all the cabs are in one section of the city, and yes, someone will steal a bike, probably several. All that aside the gains for the city (and the Citi) far out weight the negatives, at least until a bike dock threatens the life of your loved one, but no matter what The NYPost says, that didn't happen.
So NYC you got a ticket to ride?