Reflections on CitiBike

Photo Credit: Photography
As some of you might have noticed, I am a huge proponent of green initiatives such as CitiBike. Yesterday,after waiting for 10 days to receive my CitiBike Key, I finally activated it and tested it out.

First of all, even though I consider myself to be a fairly competent person (some of you might disagree), the instruction for checking out the bike was not very intuitive. I had to spend 10 minutes fidgeting at a bike station around Central Park but simply could not figure out how to check out the bike with my key. Finally, after calling the help number, the operator helped me figure out where to insert the key - right under the lights next to each bike. It would have been helpful to clarify this instruction somewhere around the bike station.

The first glitch I observed was that not all of the bikes were turning green when I plugged in my key. Luckily, there were few bikes at the station, so I was able to get a green light. The next challenge was to pull the bike out of the rack. This is another not-so-intuitive process for first timers. The key is to pull the bike up while grabbing the seat from the back (a generous bystander helped me with this and the lady on the phone was pretty useless..yup, New Yorkers are awesome like that!).

In any case, once I began riding the bike, I was very impressed with the sturdy construction of the bike. There was even a place for me to put my bag while I was biking. The bike also had a blinking red light which made me feel safe. It started pouring rain but I felt in control and the bike was meant for rain or shine. I was also impressed with how many bike racks I was passing as I biked from Central Park to 42nd street. I turned on the Bike App to keep track of the time, which was a nice feature. I do wish the App had more personalized tracking in place perhaps with links to social media. Overall, I had a positive experience and would recommend CitiBike to anyone. I am not ready to depend solely on CitiBike yet considering the glitches but it is a fun way to get around my favorite city!

Couple of specific reflections:
  • Know where the bike stations are located - in other words - plan ahead. This will only get better once you know where the stations are located. I asked a cop who gave me a confused look so perhaps the NYPD could be trained on helping customers with docking stations. 
  • Wear a helmet - better safe than sorry.
  • Follow the direction of the traffic and avoid sidewalks.
  • Make sure the bike locks securely when returning it and look for the light color change. Otherwise, you risk being charged for overuse.
Go Big Red (Cornell reference) Apple =)

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