Citi Bike is here!

First, I’ll answer the question that’s been burning in your brain for over a week:

Yes, I did complete my Long Island century on May 18th. I clocked 104 miles total and had a pretty good day out on the bike. I’ll be writing up a short trip report once I get the pictures processed.

Now, on to current events. Since my last update way back in the middle of the month, NYC’s bike share program, Citi Bike, has officially launched!

Citi BikeI signed up for an annual membership the day they went on sale and I’ve been anxiously awaiting the moment I could take one of these blue beasts out on the mean streets of New York. Today was that day! I left Grand Central Terminal and headed over to the bike share dock at 43rd and Vanderbilt. As I used my key fob to unlock a bike, I was approached by a reporter from the NY Post. She asked me how long I’d been using the system and what I thought of everything. I gave her my honest opinion — some of the bike docks were a bit bigger than expected and some of the dock locations didn’t seem very well thought out, but the program overall was great and I was really excited to be taking my first bike share trip.

I removed my bike from the dock (here’s a tip — lift the bike by the saddle and it willl undock easily) and strapped my bag to the small rack in front. My first impression was how heavy the bikes are — they weigh about 45 pounds! However, once I got underway, the weight was not an issue at all. The ride was smooth and the bike felt incredibly solid. I rode down 43rd to 6th Avenue and headed north for a few blocks to the dock at 51st Street. It took a couple of attempts before the dock recognized the bike and locked it, but that was probably due to my lack of technique and experience with the docks. Checking my trip on the Citi Bike website showed I traveled 0.8 miles in 8 minutes and 36 seconds (some of which was spent speaking to the NY Post reporter before starting my journey).

The only problem with Citi Bike is the helmet situation. Helmets are not required for adult cyclists in NYC, but I don’t like riding without one. I didn’t have one with me today and there were a few moments when cabs were getting a little too close for comfort. I’m going to have to search around for a small, light helmet that I would be able to carry around with me when I’m in the city. I could always keep a helmet at my office, but that won’t help with my trips between work and Grand Central.

Overall, it was a positive, albeit short, initial experience with Citi Bike. I’m looking forward to using it again for my evening commute — maybe I’ll wind up taking the long way back to Grand Central!