Why Emily Rides

emily-citi-bike-streetsblog
Photo copyright Dmitry Gudkov

Emily lives in the East Village and commutes to Midtown. She was riding to work for the first time. Before becoming a Citi Bike member, she never rode a bike in New York.

How do you commute to work when you’re not riding?

“Usually I take the subway into work or I walk. I usually do a lot of walking so having Citi Bike as an option helps me save time while still being outside. I also hope biking will help me save money by not having to pay for bus or subway everyday.”

Aside from work commuting, how do you think you’ll use Citi Bike?

“I definitely plan to use Citi Bike in my free time. On Monday I rode over to the West Village for breakfast. I also rode over to Brooklyn to meet up with some friends. It was dark by the time I was ready to head home so I took the subway instead. It was great to drop my bike and not have to worry about getting it home.”

Any technical problems?

“The first day I had some issues with my key not working. I was on hold with Citi Bike for an hour but once I was able to get through the service rep was very nice and helpful and was able to reset my token.”

What has your experience been like as a very new rider in New York City?

“I was a little intimidated the first day. Mostly afraid about cars not seeing me and getting hit. My boyfriend also has a membership so it was helpful starting the adventure together. Only took a day before I realized how doable it was. Bike lanes definitely help. And there are so many Citi Bikers on the road!”

  • Miles Bader

    WTF do they have those borderline useless microbaskets?!

    A real basket just a bit larger would be about a billion time more useful…

  • I have a huge bag and it fits It had no sides so it’s more versatile IMHO– no ideal for my own bike, but it can fir a variety of things. (though the bungie wouldn’t fit over my bag)

    I really hope they get some stations up here before the years is out this boycotts is very stressful for me.

  • Given Bloomberg’s insistence on not spending city funds, an expansion to the Bronx this year seems highly unlikely. But this issue could be one of the first advocacy campaigns under the next mayor. The smart mayoral candidates should already be thinking about putting rapid bike-share expansion into their campaign platforms.

  • Anonymous

    Seriously. And it doesn’t have A/C or a functioning radio. Or a roof! What are you supposed to do in the rain?

  • Guest

    Why don’t subway seats have footrests? Why no seat-back TVs on the LIRR? LIFE IS TERRIBLE.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I don’t get the feeling there are any.

  • “I also hope biking will help me save money by not having to pay for bus or subway everyday.”

    To me, Citibike is really “public transportation”. So can we get something going such that pre-tax mass transit contributions can be used for bike share?

  • Miles Bader

    It was a serious question, and I don’t think deserved your snarky reply.

    A somewhat bigger basket doesn’t require significantly more resources or space, and is more useful, and I’m genuinely curious as to why they opted for something so small (and side-less, which will probably make people reluctant to use it for a lot of stuff that does fit). I’m not talking about giant cargo baskets, I’m talking about the modest little baskets you see on tons of bikes.

  • Philly Bicycle Journal

    I’d love it if they follow up with the people who ride Citibikes in a year to see if they buy their own bikes.

  • Joe R.

    In theory this sounds good but with a one-year membership going for $95 using pretax dollars will save most people under $30 annually. I guess every little bit helps if money is tight but I’m not sure if the benefits make it worthwhile to bother pursuing this politically. Good idea though.

  • Ian Turner

    Baskets with sides attract trash.

  • JK

    Many thanks Ben, Streetsblog and Dmitry, these Citibike “Why We Rides” are a life affirming antidote to the irrational negativity being spewed forth by the tabloids.

  • Anonymous

    That’s fair. I had been wondering why not rear racks? I thought that would’ve made more sense as front basket has potential to obstruct vision and/or inhibit turning.

  • It’s worth it for the precedent it sets alone.

  • Ian Turner

    The statute (26 USC § 132) uses the term “Mass Transit” without defining it, so I suppose you could argue that a bike sharing system would qualify. You could ask the IRS for a ruling if you like.

    Bike share definitely does not qualify for the bicycle commuting fringe benefit, which only applies to bicycle purchase, repair, and storage (i.e., not rental).

  • Ian Turner

    Also, the NYC Bike Share website clearly uses the term “Mass Transit” in a way that excludes bike share.http://a841-tfpweb.nyc.gov/bikeshare/faq/

    “Bike share also leverages the city’s great mass transit system”

  • Seriously! Why do people so freely leave trash in the storage compartments of parked bikes?

  • Guest

    Rear racks tend to lead to people sitting on them, depending on the size. You’ll notice that these bikes have just the rounded fender/cover on the back, making it hard to carry a passenger. Helps avoid injuries.

    Small front racks make it hard to carry heavy loads, which is probably a good thing since many inexperienced riders may find themselves on a Citi Bike.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve heard that theory about why they didn’t include rear racks. It sounds plausible, but it sucks because it is paternalistic. I say put the racks and trust people to behave responsibly. For those who don’t and get into trouble, there are always the Darwin Awards. They can always put dire warning messages on the bike rack to try to discourage people from sitting there (and possibly to reduce their liability).

  • DT

    What a fantastic option for city folks. Aside from great exercise and money saver, it is environmentally sound. Great idea Cities Bike.

  • Tyler

    qtr145 – Paternalistic? Really? Let’s set aside the human… guess what else is damaged/destroyed when someone “gets into trouble” — the BIKE. Also, these are supposed to last. They are not passenger vehicles and shouldn’t be subjected to folks riding on the back… again, the bike is damaged. These are assets that are being protected.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Emily could really be a terrific spokesmodel for Citibike. She’s never ridden a bike before in the city, and after ONE day with her boyfriend helping her along, she’s a regular bike commuter! That’s incredible! And she’s pretty, too! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Protecting people from themselves is the very definition of paternalism.

    This is the first time I hear the theory that they do it to protect the bikes. I think bikes can carry more weight than you give them credit for, but that’s an interesting engineering question.

  • carma

    i was able to strap my backpack to the front so called basket. it sure saves my back from sweating like leaky faucet.

  • carma

    i dont know any candidate right now that even comes close to matching what mayor bloomberg has done for the city. i dont always agree with the guy but in terms of making the city a better place to live and get around. he absolutely got it right with the bike share. no public funds, but lots of public input.

  • Hilda

    Went into Metro Bikes on 47th and 9th, and there was a bikeshare bike in the store, the rider came in for a helmet. The store was busier than I have ever seen it, and they said they had sold 7 helmets that day alone (they usually sell less than that in a week. The employees also noted that anything that gets more people on bikes is good for them.

    I have had more met more smiling strangers in talking about bikeshare than any thing else that I can remember.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Yup. Just got back from an evening joyride around Bed-Stuy on the bike share bikes. Dinging my bell in a friendly way. Just enjoying the warm night. And upon returning to the big station at the YMCA I chatted with a guy I know from the gym. Pretty sure he’ll be signing up. And it all started with, “Hey, how are those bikes?” Just think about the growth of the program as 20,000 + New Yorkers enjoy Citibike and tell one or two or five friends!

  • Joe R.

    Yes and no. The frames look sturdy enough but consider a situation where you might have two “large” people trying to use the bike. That could be upwards of 400 pounds load (plus another 45 pounds for the bike). If the bikes had 48 spoke wheels (similar to those used on tandem bicycles) then no problem. Those wheels look like either 32 or 36 spokes. There’s no way they’re carrying 220+ pounds each. They might actually be fine doing that on a smooth road, but hit a few potholes and you have a trashed rim. That’s the problem here-dynamic versus static loads. Don’t forget also these bikes need to last in heavy service with minimal repair. I have no idea what the schedule for rim or tire replacement is, but it’s safe to safe the mileage they’re aiming for is well beyond what someone who owns their own bike might be OK with. Just as an example, when I used air tires, I was lucky to get 4000 miles out of a set. I’m actually up to nearly 8800 miles on my rear airless but it’ll need replacing soon. That’s a record for me but I’ll bet Citibike wants well over 10,000 miles out of a set of tires. As for rims, I’m lucky to get 10,000 miles but I’ll readily admit I’m pretty rough on my equipment. Regardless, bike share bikes will probably need to go at least two or three times that. Ideally, if it’s built well and not overloaded, a rim should never need replacement. Maybe that’s why they’re erring on the safe side.

  • Ahem, they helped each other.

  • tyler

    Oh, I’m sure they helped each other… nudge nudge… wink wink. :-p

  • tyler

    Day 3 was *almost* as many miles as Day 1 and 2 combined.

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