NYC Bikeshare Report: It Was Fun Until It Very Much Wasn’t

I’d been looking forward to riding Citi Bike, New York’s bikeshare program, as it seemed to combine two things I’ve enjoyed very much in recent years: 1. Riding in NYC; 2. Bikeshare (in Montreal).

So it was with chilly, lobster-gloved, but excited hands that I gripped my first pass code to start my Saturday morning Citi Bike adventure at around 40th and 2nd Ave. near the United Nations.  

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From there I sauntered forth all the way to 22nd and 9th Avenue down in Chelsea, cruising amid and around ice patches, taxis, pedestrians, more ice patches, small piles of snow, more taxis, delivery trucks blocking “dedicated” bike lanes, more ice patches, construction equipment blocking “dedicated” bike lanes, and some ice patches. 

As I was kinda occupied with “staying vertical,” I didn’t take snapshots while I rode, but here’s a glimpse into what it looked like:

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All in all, it was crazy, challenging and great fun. I wondered two things as I rode: A. How was riding on the Friday workday given this amount of snow/ice?; B. Am I enjoying this more because it is slightly dangerous?

Such was my contemplation as I dismounted at 22nd and 9th, making sure I firmly secured the bike back into the mechanism. A green light flashed indicating I was good to go and I took a short break to check out the Chelsea Market. From there I walked along the Hudson Greenway, eventually deciding that I’d catch another Citi Bike and ride all the way to the Staten Island Ferry.

Rather strangely, the Greenway didn’t have any Citi Bike stations, so I walked on until I asked a Citi Bike rider where he got his bike. He led me to a station at Hudson and Watts two blocks away in TriBeCa.

That’s when the fun stopped.

I slipped my credit card back in, waited for my next pass code, but was informed that I couldn’t have a pass code, as I hadn’t returned my previous bike. A phone number was shown that I should call, on the infinitesimal chance that the system was wrong and I HAD RETURNED my previous bike.

As you may know, I don’t have a cell phone. Stop laughing. So, I couldn’t call the number and I was now about 20 blocks from where I’d left the supposedly unreturned bike and 50 blocks from my hotel/a phone.

And I walked the entire 50 blocks at a brisk pace, first walking the 20 blocks to confirm my first bike was still in the exact place I’d previously secured it. I’ll spare you the eventual phone call to Citi Bike, one that didn’t feature your humble blogger at his serene, unperturbed best.

The upshot was that a day of Citi Biking all over NYC was limited to one stinking ride. I guess Citi Bike is refunding me the $10 bucks a day pass cost, as there was “a problem with the station at 22nd and 9th.”

I’d say the unfun outlasted the fun, overall. But that one ride was a blast, one I’d compare closest to skiing a run about one or two levels above your actual skiing ability for the first time. In other words, walking 50 blocks ended up being much more fun than undergoing MCL surgery at the sports medicine factory outside Aspen or Taos. I’m keeping that serene, unperturbed positive comparison in mind as I contemplate my next bike share adventure.

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