NYC finally got its bike share program. About this time last week (Friday 24 May) on the way home I noticed that some stations in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn already had bikes parked in them. I didn't get my annual member key then so even if I could just park and go check them out I wouldn't be able to. I had to wait until Saturday the 25th to receive my key in the mail. Memorial Day was the official kick-off but I worked in the morning, started really early too. When I was done with work around noon, I could have taken the subway from Roosevelt Island to Manhattan (another island, but pretty much no one says Manhattan Island, it's just "Manhattan") to check out the bikes. But that's another subway trip for no other purpose. I'm really careful with money these days so I put it off for another day. No rush, let others be the testers of the new system.
Yesterday I finally gave the bike share program a twirl. I needed to be on 67th Street between First and Second Avenue, which is the east side of Manhattan, but the D train doesn't go there. Sure I can make some transfers but rush-hour trains are pretty crowded and I hate to wait for the connection. So I got off the D train on the west side of Manhattan and make my way to the east by bike. I brought along a bike helmet, the relatively new one I got from the City a few weeks back. Just a few blocks from the D train station I bumped into the first Citi Bike station, 58th Street and 6th Avenue, I believe. Whipped out my member key and out came a bike. I had to adjust its seat but that was it, off I went.
Although I rode with car traffic before, it usually was off-hours and not on super-busy streets like Uptown Manhattan during rush-hour. A few times traffic was so bad I had to pull to the sidewalk and ran pushing the bike. After Second Avenue things got more quiet. I suppose most drivers found their way onto the Queensboro Bridge. I thought I reviewed the map of bike stations and saw some near 67th Street. That was not the case. All stations are around 60th Street and below. So I ended up pedaling back downtown to return the bike and ran back uptown. I was 20 minutes late to the appointment, which worked out in the end, but so much for having bad intel. I could have returned the bike earlier and walked leisurely uptown.
After my visit at the 67th Street Library, I gave bike share another try. I was nowhere near a subway station, the nearest being on Lexington Avenue. Can't wait for that Second Avenue subway line to be completed, eh? So I can walk to a subway station, or I can hop on a Citi Bike and get there a tad faster. I hopped. The first time I returned the bike, I saw clearly that the light went green to indicate that the bike was properly locked, my rental period over. The second time around, the light remained yellow, but the bike wouldn't budge as well. I tried to take it out again, but perhaps because of security measure that didn't work either. Later at home I verified that my rides were recorded, equipments returned, although the first time, with the green light, it didn't list the return location. The second ride was all a-okay, weird.
Today I planned to use bike share again while in Chinatown waiting for my son and his music lesson. I always have to park far away because of lack of parking space or because of outrageous parking fee, even the meters. So theoretically I can park far away like always then ride a bike to the center of Chinatown. I found a spot near Corlears JHS as usual and walked over to Seward Park Branch of the NYPL. There was a bike station nearby but either all the bikes were taken out or the station was not activated, there was no bike to be found. It was a hot day to walk around so I settled down in some cool place and checked email etc. On the way back to the car some time later, I discovered two functional stations, both near Madison Street, just a street over from where I parked. Just a matter of going in the wrong direction. In the future, I definitely could use bike share to get to the heart of Chinatown.