Well, it never fails. Just when I’m all set to declare my experiences with Citi Bike a success, I get a big old dose of reality.
The time is 6:30 PM, and my goal is to catch the 7:01 PM train. If I walk at a brisk pace, I can just make it in 30 minutes. So I figure the Citi Bike should take me about 15 minutes max.
I walk to the bike station at 52nd and 5th. Lo and behold, there’s one bike there and it doesn’t have a red light. Not the best situation, but I’ll take it.
I swipe my key. The light turns yellow. Then nothing. I try it again. And again. And again. And again. Finally, after a string of yellow lights I bizarrely see both red and yellow lights are on at the same time, as if the dock is saying to me “take the hint”.
Not wanting to walk any more in the 93 degree heat, I pull and pull but the dock is not letting go. Seething, I walk another avenue to the next station at 51st and 6th. When I get there I see this.
Okay Citi Bike…it’s great that you’ve removed one bike dock and failed to replenish two more at the height of evening rush hour.
I walk further west to Broadway and see this.
Is that a bike??! I run to the bike before anyone else can get there, and of course see this:
So I start walking down Broadway. Mind you, by this time I could have walked halfway to Penn. I see a petite young woman looking at me with a pitiful look in her eyes, like a thirsty little animal in the desert looking for a sip of water. She asks me “picking up a bike?” I nod yes to the rather obvious question, and then realize later that this was probably her way of saying “the next one is MINE”. Not wanting to get into an altercation, I continue to plow to the next bike station.
Lo and behold, on 48th I finally see a dock with multiple bikes.
I can’t believe it at first. I begin to wonder if this isn’t just a mirage in the 93 degree desert heat and I’m really back at the last bike station having been clocked by the young woman. But yes, these are real bikes. I eagerly swipe my key into the first one I see.
That’s right. Another broken dock. As has become my custom now, I repeat this on 2-3 other bikes and get the same thing. Finally, I miraculously I see the green light.
I start in the bike lane on Broadway which is a wonderful thing until…
…yes the bike lane ends and you have three choices. Turn right and get trampled by a sea of tourists, go straight into the construction zone, or turn right. I choose the third option.
I make my way to ninth and have a pleasant ride all the way down. The only real hazards here are the bikers who want to plow over you in the bike lane and the occasional boneheaded biker who’s too lazy to bike on block down to go uptown on Eighth.
I get to Penn Station, where shockingly there are plenty of empty docks. I dock my bike in the first dock I see.
Okay, I try the second and it docks!
Of course by this time I look down at my phone just in time to see “7:00” turn to “7:01”. I glance up at the Citibank ad. I think when Citibank signed up to get their logo and ads all over these bikes, they were probably counting on it being run a little better. As far as being tempted to join Citibank after these experiences, I have a word of advice for Citibank. Citibank, honey, if your ATMs work as well as these bike docks with your name all over them, I’ll be going to ANY bank except for yours for my business.
Cost per ride 95/9.5=$10 (I’ll only count half a ride given the distance I walked)
Aggravation level: 9 of 10
Stress level: 5 of 10