I am a Founding Member of NYC’s massively ambitious and, so far, hugely successful bike share program, which basically just means that I plunked down my $95 for an annual membership the first day it became available. My first trip on a Citi Bike–Citibank kicked in $41 million to have their logo plastered all over everywhere, and it doesn’t matter what I think about that–was on opening day, Monday, May 27, and I’ve since taken dozens of trips lasting from several blocks to several miles. In other words, I am have been an active, frequent participant in the program since day one, and all my opinions in this post are based upon direct experience.
Here’s the punch line first: I love Citi Bike, and I highly recommend getting an annual membership–there are over 52,000 of us at this point–if you travel around the city for work or chores or fun. Been discouraged by tales of software glitches and such? In all of my trips on a Citi Bike over the last six weeks, involving scores of different stations all over town, only twice have I been unable to remove or return a bike from a dock at the exact moment I wanted it to happen… and even then I only had to go a couple of blocks to start/complete my journey.
That sort of frustration level is about on par with the subway (which I use at least twice a day), and much less than what I experience with buses (which I rarely bother with anymore). I haven’t taken a taxi in years, but from what I hear $95 buys you about seven rides these days. So if you’re just considering cost (about 28 cents a day) and convenience (there are more than 600 stations), Citi Bike is a huge winner. But don’t just believe me! Check out this video review by Casey Neistat that was making the rounds a couple of weeks ago…
With my Citi Bike annual membership I received a plastic key to unlock my ride at each individual dock, so I never have to mess around with the touch screen at the kiosk. I didn’t have to buy a bike lock, because the docks take of that. I did buy a helmet, for $50, which I usually carry around strapped to my bag, but it’s so light and unobtrusive that I sometimes forget to use it because I forget I own it. I don’t have to store a bike in my apartment. I can use as many bikes as I want, all day and night, each for up to 45 minutes without re-docking, and then just take a subway home.
Yes, Citi Bikes are heavy, but it’s not like I’m racing in a velodrome, and it’s nice to have the weight in the rain (maybe that’s why there have been only THREE injuries to Citi Bikers in the first 500,000 rides). When weekend track work shuts down parts of the subway (ahem, the G), I can now just pedal my way from, for example, DUMBO to Williamsburg. And maybe the best benefit of being a key-carrying Citi Bike member? Zipping around town on a bike is just flat-out fun. Again: highly recommended.
For all the information you need about everything, including how to become a Citi Bike annual member, please see here.