So, I wake up and the temperature is supposed to get up to 93 degrees today, so I was dreading the bike ride to work. As of right now it’s 76 degrees with a relative humidity of 67% so it was actually a pretty nice bike ride. Once again, the bike balancers are doing a great job of keeping the bikes near Penn Station relatively full.
I’ve concluded something about Citi Biking to work. Going uptown and downtown isn’t that bad. On the bike path on 8th (until Port Authority) bikers own the bike lane, so a little ring-a-ding-ding of your bell and hapless pedestrians scamper out of your way.
Crosstown, that’s another story. Today, I tried going cross town on 36th. And believe it or not, I hit a traffic jam. That’s right, a traffic jam on a bike.
The problem is, you have cars parked on both sides and two lanes of cars squeezing into the one remaining lane, which leaves about six inches–I kid you not, six inches, of space to squeeze through if you want to get ahead of the cars. I thought of dismounting and walking the bike on the sidewalk, but the sidewalks were too crowded for me to do that.
And so I exit onto Broadway, which is supposed to have ample space for bikers, if that’s what the green paint on the ground means. But scattered pedestrians have pretty much claimed all that space for themselves, so I’m left to bike carefully facing oncoming traffic.
I hand a right on 38th, which is a little better than 36th but still really narrow. But a seasoned biker on a road bike is weaving through the cars, so I figure I’d follow him for a while. But again, there are way too many people trying to squeeze way too much into almost no space.
Finally, I get to Madison. As long as I stay on the left-hand side of the road it’s not too bad. The worst thing you have to watch out for here are jaywalking pedestrians and cabbies taking blind left-hand turns, but both are better than getting squeezed.
And so I get to the bike station at 49th and 5th. The good news is that I don’t see bikes filling up the docks. The bad news is, I don’t see docks!
I do a double-take. It’s gone. No bike station, no docks, no signs, just clear sidewalk. There’s not a trace of evidence that a Citi Bike station used to be there at all. It’s like that weird episode of the Twilight Zone where things start disappearing (or, every episode of the Twilight Zone). If I didn’t distinctly remember the building and the orange-and-white barriers, I’d have thought I was going nuts. Ironically, in my last post I implored them to add new docks to this station, and they did the opposite and removed all the docks. Later on, I would see on the app that sure enough, over the Fourth of July weekend they went and removed every one of them.
Later, I would confirm this on their Twitter account:
Station Update: W 49 St & 5 Ave station has been removed for a long term DDC construction project. It will be relocated nearby shortly.
— Citi Bike (@CitibikeNYC) July 3, 2014
From the looks of it, this was one of the most popular stations, but now I need to walk at least 5-6 blocks in any direction to get to a bike dock. So much for Citi Bike saving me walking time.
I tried selecting “Add More Time” and just inserted my key anywhere I thought on the machine it would it. Finally, when I put it in the credit card slot (intuitively enough), I got the message that 15 minutes of ‘grace period’ had been added for me to bike until I found another station.
I walked my way over to 52nd and 5th.
As you can probably guess, every last dock was taken. I guess the good news is, they were all working.
I then rode to 53rd and Madison (ironically, that’s my old subway stop, so instead of walking a block to work I have to schlep the same multiple blocks I did before). It seems to be taking me an average of 3-4 broken docks until I find one that freaking works.
I’ve decided to start using a program on the iPhone called Kinetic GPS from Mothership Software Limited. I’ve been looking for an app that will let me track my walking, hiking, and biking. It tracks speed, altitude, and distance of your ride, run, or hike, and the feature I’m most excited about: charting a map of your bike path du jour using GPS.
So I’m not thrilled that the bike station at Rockfeller Center is gone–and that all the stations around it are that much more filled.
Now today was a special day…I spent a few hours at work, but then I had tickets to a taping of Centerstage, a local program produced by the Yankees cable station where Michael Kay (the Yankees announcer) interviews a sports or entertainment celebrity. Today the celebrity was Rob Reiner. I got free tickets to it, so I decided to take Citi Bike.
I picked up a bike and biked across town on 53rd to 10th, where the taping was. I guess because I was going against the tide, I had one of the most enjoyable Citi Bike experiences yet. There were still plenty of bikes available where I’d dropped mine off at 52nd and 5th, and when I got to 10th Avenue the bike rack was clear, I’m guessing from commuters who ransacked it earlier in the morning.
I went through the usual dance of trying 2-3 docks until one had a light that turned yellow and green. I then went on line for the TV show taping.
The taping itself was really interesting. Rob Reiner touched on his whole life history, from his growing up as Carl Reiner’s son to his hippie years to his marriage to Penny Marshall, to his stint on All in the Family, to his movies from Spinal Tap to Stand By Me to When Harry Met Sally to The Princess Bride to A Few Good Men, and of course had a plug for his new movie And So It Goes.
When we got out of the studio, the sun was blaring and the temperature was hitting 88-93. So it wasn’t completely surprising when I went back to the Citi Bike dock and found a couple more bikes to choose from.
I biked back to work after this in another relatively pleasant ride, at least for the first two blocks back from Hell’s Kitchen where traffic was actually light and the bike path was clear.
But of course once I got into mid-town, the whole thing with the “shared bike lane” took over, and as usual, cars weren’t in much of a sharing mood.
Other than the ridiculously hot temperatures, I found today’s Citi Bike experiences to be quite pleasant. There aren’t many better options for getting cross-down in such a short amount of time (I got from 5th to 10th in a little under eight minutes, which would have taken about a 25-30 minute walk, no options for the subway, and who knows how much more on the bus).
Per-ride code: 95/9=$10.56
Aggravation level: 6 of 10
Stress level: 4 of 10