It rained all last night, so I figured I was going to take the subway. Little did I know that it’d be a beautiful day. Slightly warm and a little humid, but still a good biking day, considering the cold we’re going to get soon.
Unfortunately I left my helmet at home. But since it’s still legal for adults to bike without a helmet, I thought I’d be extra careful and try riding without one.
I picked up a bike at 31st and Eighth and biked up the way up Eighth. Instead of leading I decided to follow a pack of bikers so they could deal with the pedestrians in the bike path. I’m finding it’s a mixture of people who A) don’t know the rules, B) know the rules but get careless, and C) know the rules and decide to be a-holes. You can tell easily who is whom; group A will walk out of the way when you ring your bell and say “sorry”, group B will jump out of the way with a look of terror in their eyes, and group C will play a game of “chicken” with you. A pedestrian playing a game of chicken with a bike is as dangerous and foolhardy as a bike playing chicken with a car. One wonders when Darwin will catch up to the good folks in Group C.
I find that when I’m not wearing a helmet, people feel more free to yell things at you. In fairness to them, I was wrong in both instances. In one instance I rolled a little too far into the crosswalk at a red light which got me a “come on, dude”. And in another instance in order for me to get from 54th to 53rd, I had to gingerly go against traffic, which emitted a “wrong way” from a trucker. Mea culpa in both cases, but I wish these folks had the same chutzpah to say those things to the bikers who flaunt the rules on a daily basis (problem is, they usually look too menacing or scary that these folks will not utter a word).
I thought today’s ride would be a little safer, given that I was on bike paths the whole time. Problem is, the potholes and pedestrians and blind left turns on Eighth still pose a menace, and on 54th the bike path doesn’t start until you get to around Sixth, and then it’s a “shared bike lane”, which means double-parked cars, trucks backing up, and cars taking up every last inch, so a biker like I had to weave in and out and try to look for safe places on the sidewalk to make my way across.
Another really, really annoying part. My Citi Bike app told me there were 28 docks open at 53rd and Madison.
When I got there, there were 2 docks open, and both had been locked shut. Thankfully, a guy came by about a minute later and told me he was picking up a bike (he was kind enough to notice I was in duress and unlocked a bike next to me instead of all the way on the other end). I’m guessing the app never updated. I would hope if the app developers ever update this app, they would put a “last updated” message on the “Favorites” page just so their app doesn’t end up being so misleading. Also, I noticed this app doesn’t use “Background App Refresh”, which would think would be pretty important for an app like this. Finally, I really wish the app would let you choose the “Favorites” page as your default home page rather than making you go to that useless, tiny map each time. It’s little things like this that really make me wonder if this app went through any kind of testing at all. So if you’re a Citi Bike app developer, take this free advice (from someone who’s been a digital product manager) to heart on how you can improve your app.
Today’s Route: North on 8th, East on 54th
Best Thing About It: Relatively safe compared to others given the bike lane on 54th
Worst Thing About It: Bike lane on 54th is “for suggestion only”. The usual annoyance with full bike docks during rush hour.
Route Rating: 5 of 10
Cost per ride: $95/65=$1.46 a ride
Stress: 5 of 10
Aggravation: 8 of 10