I don’t know what engineering firm was behind designing these Citi Bike docks, but whoever it is should be tarred, feathered, subjected to public shame, and otherwise made to feel as miserable as humanly possible. Or alternatively and with equal effect, they could be forced to use the objects of their creation on a daily basis.
The weather this morning is set to be 93 degrees again, but in the morning it’s a relatively balmy 77 degrees with a nice breeze. Great weather for biking.
I get off the train and happily see a bunch of bikes outside Penn. But unhappily, I see half of them have been “repaired” in a very high-tech way.
I go down the lines of bikes, and see red lights, red lights, red lights. Finally I get to the end of the line where there are happily a bunch of bikes, and Citi Bikers scrambling to claim them. Like a swarm of honeybees I see them going from bike to bike, sticking their blue keys in the slots, cursing, and going to the next bike. Every now and then you hear a “click” and a Citi Biker triumphantly hops on a bike and rides away.
As for me, I tried one bike. The yellow light goes on and stays on. One minute. Two minutes. Five minutes. There’s no reset button, there’s no button to call for help, so I just have to wait…and wait…and wait.
Exasperated, I try the next bike over. The yellow light goes on and stays on. I try the next bike again. Same thing.
By this time I’m in the middle of “purchasing” about four different bikes. I sort of hover over the bikes making sure the light doesn’t turn green and then someone snatches it, doesn’t return it, and then I’m on the hook for $1200 a bike.
About ten minutes later, I finally see the lights start going “green”, “green”, “green”. I undock my bike. Then I quickly undock the other bikes and re-dock them just to make sure I don’t get charged for them.
I figure I’ve tried crossing town on 50th (bad), 40th (bad), 36th (bad), 38th (bad), 44th (not great). Today it was time to try 34th. Add another “bad” to the list. You’d think 34th wouldn’t be too bad given how wide it is, but the problem is that it’s two-way with a bus lane. And even federal employees will park in the bus lane, making the bus go into the car lane, making the car go into the biker.
I got off 34th as quickly as possible onto Broadway. Again, had a block of wonderful biking, and then the designated bike lane turned into a “shared lane”.
I decided to hang a right onto 38th up on fifth (yes, going against traffic slowly for two blocks), and then right on 40th, which actually wasn’t horrible on this side of sixth once you get through all the construction.
In fact it was so nice I overshot Madison and went right on to Park.
I finally circled around, biked the rest of the way up on Madison, and found bike parking on Park, where surprisingly there were a few docks left. But yet again, it took two times before it would dock properly.
Once I got to my desk, I logged onto the Citi Bike site, expecting to see a ton of bikes charged to my name. I only saw one, though, for a 22 second ride. Either Citi Bike’s Web site is set to ignore all but one ride, or I ended up getting someone else’s Citi Bike.
Per-ride cost: 95/10.5=$9.05 a ride
Aggravation level: 9 of 10
Stress level: 5 of 10