Written and photographed by Sabrina Tate
From the very beginning there have been mixed feeling about the New York City bike share program, from the amount of riding time allotted between docking, to taking up parking spaces. Citi Bike is a Manhattanite's solution to traveling short distances. For every person who doesn't like the bike share program there have to be at least two people who don't like the idea of paying a full subway fare to travel two to four stops, and I am one of them. Why should I pay the same fare as someone traveling 15 stops into the City? Well, because of City Bike share, I don't have to anymore!
Once purchasing my annual subscription, I patiently waited three weeks for my first ride, despite the email letting me know that I would receive my key within one week. The welcome kit arrived with one bike key fob (that easily attaches to my keyring), the Official Guide to Cycling in New York, a $10 discount on a biking helmet at participating bike shops, along with one single day pass to offer to a friend to initiate. Activating my subscription online at CitiBikeNYC.com took less than one minute.
You have to follow the rules and keep within the time limits to avoid crazy charges billed to your credit card ($2.50 for the following half hour, $6.50 for the next half hour, and $9 for every half hour after that). Unlike the daily or weekly pass where 30 minutes is the allotted riding time between docking, annual memberships are given 45 minutes. Rides are unlimited so you can dock your bike, wait 5 minutes, then pull out another. To check bike/space availability download the convenient app map or view the map online, and even if you don't use the app and end up at a full dock, to avoid overtime fees, you can insert your key to check in and the panel will allot you an additional 15 minutes and show you where the nearest docking is.
Finally the City has given thought to the New Yorker before the tourist. I don't see our Citi Bike share program something that a visitor will be using often — most tourists love to take their leisure, finding themselves lost, not knowing where they are, and half of the time they don't know how to get to where they're going. Citi Bike share requires that you plan your final docking destination within the time constraints and 30 minutes is just not enough time for someone who doesn't know their way around town.