I can’t say I ride my bike a lot around NYC but I have the very best intentions. Every May, I drag our two bikes up from the basement and my wife swears she’s going to be riding all summer long. What typically happens is that I ride about three times by myself from June to September and she doesn’t touch her bike. Something about her hair and that bike helmet….And then, just like that, it’s time to drag them down to the basement again.
But when the city began its new bike share program, I was one of the first to sign up. I’d been eyeballing those Paris Velib bikes for years and wanted to get in on NYC’s version of it. So I signed up for a year and became a founding member. Memorial Day was the first day anyone could ride so I headed to Manhattan where the majority of the bike stations are. Exactly where they are remained somewhat of a mystery on the first day since the Bike Share App, which is supposed to alert you to where the stations are and how many bikes are available, was not working.
So I headed for a trendy part of town figuring that Mayor Bloomberg would want to put his bikes where the action is. Sure enough, I found a station in the meat packing district. I was surprised at how many bikes were available on the first day. I thought maybe there would be none but about half the stations had the gleaming new bikes. A guy was just returning his bike so I asked him a few basic questions. He assured me it was easy and it was. I just inserted my members key and lifted up on the seat. Voila, I now had a bike for 45 minutes.
I got on and began riding and quickly realized two things: a) I was riding against traffic, a clear violation, and b) I had chosen a bike in an area lined with cobble-stoned streets. Yikes. It was a rough, teeth-rattling ride so I quickly made my way west to the bike lane that runs along the west side highway. I’ve been meaning to ride on that bike path for about a decade now but always found some reason not to. Finally, I could prevaricate no longer. Unfortunately, I’d chosen a beautiful day on a national holiday. The bike paths were jammed. But I waited for an opening and joined the hundreds of other bike riders meandering along the path.
It was fun, the wind whipping through my hair. Um, check that last sentence. But it was fun and much smoother than the cobble-stoned streets around 14th Street. I went uptown, then downtown, then uptown again until I’d used up about 30 of my free 45 minutes. It was time to dock that bike but where. Once again, I figured there had to be a bike station near the High Line and I was not disappointed. I shoved my bike into the station, waited for the green light and my first foray into the city’s bike share program ended.
I’m glad this service is available and I’m sure I’m going to use it dozens of times my first year. I only have the best of intentions. Really….