Citi Bike Ride Reports

No Rebalancers at Penn Station and Getting Into a Groove: Days 39-43

After my bad Citi Bike experience on Friday I was eager to get back on the saddle. So I got into the City and waited as usual by the Penn Station docks for bike rebalancers to come. It was past 9:30 and there was one lone bike at the dock, which did’t have a red light but of course wouldn’t unlock.

I waited and waited, way past the time it would have taken me to walk to work, but no rebalancers came. There’s a part of me that wonders how much of that was due to Citi Bike employee’s latest decision to unionize. I’m all for fair wages and working conditions, but let’s face it; if the union is pushing NYC Bike Share to make concessions that it can’t afford to make, the result is going to be things like this. One of the only bright spots of the Citi Bike program was how efficiently their bike rebalancers were able to replenish the Penn Station docks.

By 10:00, there was a long line of people behind me. I saw from the app that a few bikes had opened up at 7th and 31st, a block away. I walked over and saw 7 bikes, which was great. I tried to unlock a bike, it turned green, but it continued to be locked in the dock no matter how much I wriggled it to get it out. I then went to three other bikes and got a red and yellow light. Finally, a bike opened up for me. Again, no matter how good the workers is, as long as their technology sucks like this they’re going to lose even more riders.

For the ride up, I went back over to Eighth, went up on 40th, left on Madison, and then around to 47th and Park where there were supposedly three docks available, but one had the red “out of order” sign on it.

The rest of the week went better as far as getting a bike in the morning, but I was completely shut out of getting a bike every afternoon.

10/6/14 AM – Up on Eighth, Across on 40th, up on Madison, docked at 47th and Park (14 minutes, 0 seconds)

10/7/14 AM – Up on Eighth, Across on 40th, up on Sixth, across on 47th, docked at 47th and Park (15 minutes, 37 seconds)

10/8/14 AM – Up on Eighth, Across on 40th, up on Third, back to 47th and Park to dock (14 minutes, 54 seconds)

10/10/14 AM – Up on Eighth, Across on 40th, up on Madison, docked at 51st and Lex (15 minutes, 26 seconds).

The good news is that the rides are getting pretty routine. The bad news is that there still isn’t a ride nor a path that I felt completely safe the whole way. I think my spidey senses have just gotten used to being “always on”, so when trucks and cabs double-park in the bike lane, pedestrians wander into the bike lane, or vendors drag their food trucks through the bike lane, I just ring my bell and swerve around them, which is of course dangerous because it means swerving into the road which the cars are supposed to own or the sidewalk, which the pedestrians are supposed to own. They wonder why Citi Bike hasn’t taken off yet, and I can say with surety now that there are two reasons: the roads are still too dangerous because people don’t want to follow rules AND the management of bike inventory is still too disorganized so what should have been 8 bike rides turned out to be only 4.

On Friday night, I walked down and happened to notice a lone bike at 44th and 5th. I ended up starting my ride at 6:47 PM, or about a half hour after sunset. But I figured I’d take it nice and slow and I did make my way to Penn Station unscathed.

Cost per ride: $95/62=$1.53 a ride
Stress: 6 of 10
Aggravation: 7 of 10


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