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Riding Citi Bike to Central Park: Day 44

Since our experience riding Citi Bike as a tourist to the Intrepid was so good a few weeks ago, my wife and I figured we’d try it again. We had another mission in mind: bike to Central Park and meet my sister and her dog Clancy early in the morning (dogs are allowed to be off lead up to 9:00 AM).

We got up literally at the crack of dawn and took the LIRR in to the City right as the sun was rising.

unrise on the lirr

And happily there were lots of bikes for us to choose from at 33rd and Eighth.

33rd and 8th

But of course by now you know I can’t write a Citi Bike post without something going wrong. And yes, it turns out the station was completely without power, so I couldn’t enter my gift certificate number for my wife.  Yet another example of sloppy management by the Citi Bike people.

dead citi bike station

 

I walked over to my usual station at 31st and Eighthm and happily there were plenty of bikes there. I entered my gift certificate number, acquiesced to the scary question about the deposit being left on my car,acquiesced to the part where they tell you to accept a 200-page document, and finally got my bike code.

You guessed it. The code didn’t work. We tried on at least 5 different bikes. Then we went back to the station and were told…

citi bike mandatory 2 minute wait

So Citibike, you give me a broken code and THEN you tell me I have to wait before you can give me a new one? Thanks a bunch.

Well, we finally got a bike and started biking all the way up Eighth. And then I witnessed a sight I had never, ever seen before on a Citi Bike.

clear roads

 

That’s right, the roads were beautifully clear. But ironically, while there were no cabs in the bike lane to get doored by, or deliver trucks to swerve out of the way of, or pedestrians cluelessly loitering in, there had to be something to get in my way. And that something was PIGEONS. That’s right, every few blocks there were pigeons hanging around in the bike lane, as if they felt they were the understudies for the pedestrians. I kept ringing my bell, but like the pedestrians, sometimes they’d scamper away, but other times they’d fly into my face.

We finally made it to 59th when all of a sudden–the bike lane disappeared. It’s as if whoever painted the bike lanes suddenly said “Central Park South, you’re on your own, dude”. I’m sure there were bike markings somewhere, but heck, they were very easy to miss if there were.

bike to central park

But we finally made it up to Central Park South and 6th, and yes, there were actually empty docks.

bikes at central park

Now the perfect thing to do would have been to bike into the Park and meet my sister in the 70’s where she lives, but of course that was hampered by the fact that there are no docks north of 59th. Once again, it makes you wonder who thought of where to put these bike stations–it’s the nicest place to bike in the City, and you have bike docks only on one end of it.

So we got off the bikes and walked around on a beautiful fall day.

view from central park

And Clancy as always was thrilled to see us.

clancy!

We ended up having brunch at Sarabeth’s; my sister only knew of the one on the Upper East Side and not the one at Central Park South so we ended up taking a cab uptown. This is what I had, which pretty much wiped out any calorie loss from the bike ride.

potato waffles at sarabeth

 

But I think I made up for it by suggesting we walk the 30 blocks back down Madison Avenue. It was such a gorgeous day I didn’t mind. We even stopped at 70th at the La Duree to pick up these.

macarons at la duree

I’d wanted to pick up a bike where we left them and then bike West to the bike path on the West Side, but alas, there was the Hispanic Day Parade that blocked off everything between 44th and 70th, so there was no way we were getting to the West Side.

We picked up bikes at 56th and Madison and biked down 2nd and across 33rd. As I learned from my daily commute, the East Side is not a fun place to ride a bike in midtown, as the otherwise-pleasant East River Greenway completely disappears from 34th to 83rd.  Second wasn’t too horrible, and other than some tight squeezes on 33rd, that wasn’t as bad as usual either, although I can see tourists completely freaking out at a trail like this.

Since I was in tourist mode, I decided to snap this picture, even though in commuter mode I pass it every day without thinking.

empire state building

Happily, the Broadway Bites street food fair is back in town, and we stopped and treated ourselves to some takoyaki from Mimi and Coco NY.

takoyaki

Conveniently, there was a bike dock right there at the food stands, so we just docked the bikes and walked the block to Penn.

biking on east side

All in all, a pretty satisfying day, although had there been Citi Bike stations at 72nd and 92nd, it would have been a perfect Citi Bike tourist day. They’ve got a lot to work on as far as getting more stations and safer paths before they can start making money from bikers in midtown and uptown.

Cost per ride: $95/64=$1.48 a ride
Stress: 3 of 10
Aggravation: 5 of 10

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