Monday, October 31, 2011

NYC Bike Share: Spice up your routine

Yesterday I took advantage of some post-snowstorm sunshine and headed down to the NYC Bike Share demo on the Upper West Side. These educational and promotional sessions have been occurring regularly across the boroughs—each time at a different location—but this was my first opportunity to check one out.

The demo reiterated most of what I'd been reading. (You can find a good chunk of information here.) I was most excited to try out the locking station and test ride a bike.

The bikes are outfitted with all the key gear. Each has a small handlebar rack, with a fixed bungee cord for extra hold on the items you're toting. 

The back and front of the bikes have LED lights that flicker on when you start pedaling. The seat tube is securely attached to the frame of the bike, but there's a quick release that allows for some height adjustment.

Being a 40-pound cruiser, the bike handles much differently than what I'm used to. I was a little wobbly when I first hopped on for a test ride. A few blocks later, when I tried to signal and maneuver across two lanes of traffic for a left hand turn, I found that I didn't have quite enough control of the bike to do it quickly and safely. I resigned myself to staying on the right side of the road and making a box turn at the crosswalk.

Box turns are for cruisers.

If I don't want to spend all my precious bike share minutes looking like a fool on the sidewalk, I'll probably have to start strength training for my twig arms. The bike station requires quite a strong jerk to remove the unlocked bike, and the seat was difficult to adjust. However, I'm used to lugging my road bike up and down stairs, so I didn't find it hard to scoot the hunk of metal over the side of the curb and back to its station.

This system should work well for errands and quick trips, even for people who already have their own bicycles. I ride my road bike to work with a change of clothes in my bag. With this bike share system, if I have to run a quick errand from the office, I won't need to worry about changing back into my sport clothes or lugging my bike down 17 flights of stairs. I'd feel comfortable wearing work clothes on these bikes. Also, if I take the subway downtown on the weekend and I want to cover a bit more ground than walking would allow, I can supplement my public transit routes with these bikes.

Now, do we really have to wait until July?

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