Spring is here! And before you know it, Citi Bike will be too. Registration opened this week, and according to Transportation Nation, had gained 5,000 new members in the first 48 hours. That’s more than DC was able to get in an entire month boosted by a Living Social deal. Annual memberships will cost you $95 + tax, but for those with a fear of commitment, there’s options for you too! With a weekly pass at $25 + tax and daily pass at $9.95 + tax, you can’t go wrong.
But what many New Yorkers do not know is that Citi Bike is not meant for leisurely rides with your pals, it is meant to fill in gaps in the existing public transportation system. Your annual membership gives you 45 minutes for each ride, between pick up and docking, while the other options give you 30 minutes (before overtime fees kick in); that might get you a few laps around Central Park, but that’s not the point. Say you are traveling from TriBeCa to the Upper East Side – your journey will certainly involve at least a couple of subway lines and maybe a crosstown bus. With Citi Bike, you can hop on a bike, take a quick ride across town and get on the 6. Easy peasy! That is of course if you are healthy enough to ride a bike, it is not totally freezing, raining or snowing, and you have a Citi Bike membership. Minor details.
Will NYC ever look like Amsterdam, where cars are the minority and riders are so comfortable on their bikes that they can drink a cappuccino, send a text and transport their children to school all at the same time? With more bikes on the road, will rules become more or less strict? Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan envisions a bike-friendly NYC where helmets “will be as common a New York City accessory as an umbrella or sunglasses.” (Helmets will actually not be mandated, only encouraged.) But in a city where pedestrians already ignore traffic signs and lights while navigating sidewalks and streets, are we in for more of the same thing, or will it all somehow work itself out?