Another frustrating day with Citi Bike. Ironically it’s Friday so I expected the day to go a lot smoother.
I got into the City on the normal train and got to the bike racks by Penn. There were plenty of bikes available. Only problem is, none, and I mean NONE of the docks worked. I’d put in my key, and half the time nothing would happen, while the other half of the time the light would turn yellow and then red. Just like my face was turning red.
I soon noticed at least half a dozen fellow bikers swarming around the docks like bees going from flower to flower (or did I use that analogy already?) Every now and again you’d hear a grunt or an expletive.
A bike rebalancer saw my frustration and was kind enough to give me a bike. I figure this was a risky thing for him to do, as there was nothing to stop me from riding off into the sunset with this $1200 bike. But the honor system got the better of me and I made my ride down to 30th and then all the way up 6th. It’s hard to tell which is the more pleasant ride up, 6th or Madison, as they both have their share of treachery. But since 6th has a designated bike lane I think I’d give the edge to that…that is, once idiots in their SUVs and delivery trucks stop using the bike lane as their personal parking spot.
I was able to dock the bike at 53rd and Madison, a rarity since that station is usually all filled.
As I guessed would happen one day, I logged on to my Citi Bike account after the ride and saw an entry for that morning, which completely didn’t match the actual ride I took (since the bike rebalancer gave me a bike, there’s technically no way they could have known where I’d started from.
Which means that one of the umpteen times I swiped my key and the light didn’t go on–the light did turn on eventually, maybe minutes, maybe hours later, and someone took the bike (probably after swiping his or her key and assuming it was theirs that unlocked it.
You see the problem here. Let’s say Mr. or Ms. 12311328 decided to take their own sweet time getting to their destination and took more than 45 minutes. Or decided to ride off across state lines. Well, I’d be getting a bill for $1200. In fact, judging from Citi Bike’s Facebook posts I see this happens quite a bit.
So, it goes back to how awful these docks are. Luckily I haven’t been burned yet to the degree of having to write a thousand-dollar check, but I’m sure if the docks continue to perform this poorly that day will come.
I got out of the office relatively early, right before 5, and I had to catch a 5:29 train. Sadly, I’ve learned not to count on Citi Bike if I ever need to get anywhere in a hurry. Sure enough, when I got back to 53rd and Madison, all the bikes were long gone and no there were no rebalancers in sight.
Oh, that lone bike? Yes, it had a red light.
And so not having time to fritter away today, I went across the street to take the E train on a beautiful summer afternoon when I could have had a lovely bike ride to Penn. I ask you again, Citi Bike, what good is it if all of midtown has just 20-40 bikes to share between thousands and thousands of people?
Curse you again Citi Bike.
Per ride cost: 95/16.5 = $5.76
Aggravation level: 9 of 10
Stress level: 3 of 10