My last travel post was all about how great walking the city, in particular this city, is. Well, forget all that. My “Bixi key” came through the mail, finally, and I’ve spent the last few days riding all over town on these bomb-proof townies:
The bike-share concept is great for many reasons, including the ire it generates from those who thinks bikes should only be ridden by eight-year olds in the subdivision cul de sac (circle after circle). It hasn’t helped here that despite sizable ridership Bixi (“bike” and “taxi”) has filed for bankruptcy and, in true entrepreneur spirit, handed out company bonuses right before filing. Montreal’s mayor has come out with a “must…have…more…riders” all-call in desperation to save the system, while a look at the linked story’s comments will tell you Bixi opposition here mirrors what you’d expect to find in Albuquerque or Fort Worth.
All of which matters not one damn bit to the blissfully ignorant Bixi-using tourist.
At least until it goes belly up, you get a month of unlimited <45 minute rides for around 29 bucks. The idea is to combine short rides of under 45 minutes, primarily because most users would take these behemoths to work/school and not, unlike me, on three-hour jaunts throughout the city. From the three-hour riding tourist perspective, a bit too much of the brain is involved with finding the next Bixi station. They tend to be like cops, always around when you don’t need them, it seems, and never when you do. Still, there’s a very good city bike map with the plethora of stations included, and one quickly learns to spot, via the urban abundance of visual stimuli, the line of bikes at a station.
These rather few “cons” to the system are outweighed by multitudinous “pros,” some that might not occur to a cyclist until they start using it. For instance, you never realize how much time is spent locking and unlocking your bike until you don’t have to do it anymore. Then there’s bike maintenance, a concept at which I’m notoriously poor. I’ve been riding in the rain the past two days and it’s such a freeing feeling to simply drop your dripping bike off at a station. And leave it.
A socialist mindset definitely helps as well. It’s quite liberating to ride a bike with no thought of “my bike is better than your bike,” any contemplation that one can possibly keep up with a non-Bixi bike, and the complete knowledge that you score a 100 on any bike snob’s “dork score.” You’re a complete loser and it feels great.
I’ve been on 20 separate rides so far, and I know this because the Bixi website keep track of your rides, ride times, etc.. I’ve run across one bike with a flat tire and there’s been a case or two in which I’ve wanted to drop my bike off at a full station, with no available dock. Overall however, I’m already a complete Bixi lover (tourist division).
I see that some in Burque have investigated the possibility of having bike-share back home. My first reaction is Hell Yeah!, but thinking as a resident is undoubtedly different. Would I really commute from my house on a Bixi bike? Would a Bixi station be within four miles of my South Valley place? Could I “afford” the added time of riding a townie to work instead of my bastardized road bike/commuter? Do I think my fellow Burque Bixi users would treat the bikes well? I’ll avoid the typical “Do we deserve nice things in Burque?” question, as that one seems to be the citywide default.
Personally, bike share in Albuquerque would seem to work best in a more limited scope, with stations located in the Nob Hill/Downtown corridor and along the many bike/MUP paths we have. I don’t know if a station at the corner of Montgomery and San Mateo would work, for a number of reasons.
So as is just about always the case, it’s quite fun to be the blissfully ignorant tourist. Today I’ll be riding about a great deal more (fenders be praised on such another rainy day), unconcerned with bankruptcy and the long-term health of bike ridership in this here foreign city. I’ll just drop the last dripping bike off at the station before I hit the plane to come back home. Free and clear.