Remember how excited you were last July, when NYC ‘s awesome, ambitious bike share program Citi Bike was scheduled to launch? There were going to be bicycles everywhere! More than 400 bike rack stations throughout Manhattan (south of 59th) and parts of Brooklyn! Lots more coming soon! Commuting and getting around town was going to be breeze! And then the whole thing got delayed until August. And then, because of a “software glitch”, they delayed it again, until “Spring 2013″. And THEN there were fears that Sandy swamped all of the Citi Bike equipment while it sat in storage. Was the whole thing just a tease, an elaborate prank pulled by anti-bike evil-doers?!?!
Phew, deep breath, fingers crossed, it seems that our excruciating wait for Citi Bike is over. Last week the NYC Department of Transportation announced that bike share will finally, really, honestly begin in May. And while the DOT is launching Citi Bike with considerably fewer stations that they initially planned, that still means there will be 293 NYC bike share racks up and running on opening day, and with many more to come. When Citi Bike is at full strength, there will be more than 10,000 bicycles on the streets at any given time.
Because it’s been a while, here’s a quick refresher on how Citi Bike works. You can purchase a daily pass (for $9.95), or a weekly pass (for $25), but those options really only make sense for tourists, or if you want to test-ride the system. The thing to do here is get an annual membership for $95, which includes unlimited access to the entire system, and as long as you keep each ride under 45 minutes (you have to wait a few minutes between docking your bike and un-docking a new one before the clock starts ticking again), there’s never an additional charge for anything.
Yes, Citi Bike is not going to work if you want to bike up to Bear Mountain, say, or spend the day circling Manhattan; overtime penalties rack up pretty fast once you go over your 45 minutes. But the bike share concept is really about transportation rather than recreation, getting from Point A to Point B, It’s faster and more convenient than a bus. It’s definitely cheaper than a taxi. And I’m plunking down my hard-earned membership money on day one.
NYC’s bike share program Citi Bike will launch in May 2013. For tons of details about everything, including station maps and pricing, see the excellent Citi Bike website.