Why Ron Rides

ron-citi-bike
Photo copyright Dmitry Gudkov

Ron is an engineer living in Williamsburg. He was riding back to his office from a meeting when we took the photo, then emailed me his thoughts about bike-share.

“I was happy they added Williamsburg stations sooner than they had officially announced. I’ve been travelling over the Williamsburg Bridge each day and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the gear ratios they selected. The easy gear works nicely if you don’t want to bust it over the bridge, and the heavy gear can still provide power even when going pretty fast on the downhills.

“Bike-share gives me an incentive to get outside a bit during the workday, and liven up moving from one meeting to another (especially if they’re crosstown and I’m not near the L or 42nd St. shuttle). My bike will still be great when I want to go exploring the city on the weekend, taking it all over the place. But not having to carry the heavy NYC bike chain lock is a great perk that might be overlooked.

“Last night was the first time I needed to dock to get my entire trip in without cost, coming from the top end of the system at 59th and Amsterdam and heading all the way to Williamsburg, and when I docked at 33rd and Broadway the system took a good 15 minutes before it registered that I returned a bike and could take another one out. I tried the bike I docked and many others and it seems like it just took some time. Not a big problem, especially when it gave me a chance to have more extensive talks about the bikes and the system with four more people, one of whom was a pedi-cab driver.

“My biggest take away has been the overwhelming positivity among people regarding the bike share. Yesterday I even got a honk from a cabbie and wondered what he was upset about until I realized he was giving me a big thumbs up! I hope that when the daily/weekly rentals go live that those people who may ride less often are careful about being safe and not creating a hazard to vehicular traffic, because I think the annual members have been consciously providing a good example so far to the other traffic on NYC streets. But man it’s been cool having so many conversations with so many New Yorkers. That never happens in a city where everyone is very protective of their bubble and their personal space in packed subway cars and on sidewalks.

“Overall I’m surprised to say I’m even more excited and happy with how the system has turned out than I thought I’d be, and that was still with pretty high expectations! Hoping there’s some good software improvements with the app and the stations, but those will all come in due time.”

  • Anonymous

    Reading Ron’s comments, it is clear that the bike riding “endorphin effect” has kicked in. Maybe NYC will approach Copenhagen happiness levels!

  • Joe R.

    And I can personally vouch for the endorphin effect. I credit bike riding for keeping me functional during years when my life was going lousy and I otherwise would have been depressed to the point of not being able to get out of bed. Maybe we should have ads like “Ride a bike, throw away the pills” (that could apply to pills for hypertension and other problems related to being sedentary as well)

  • Jake Stevens

    I had to contact costumer service to get them to reset my bike as being “returned”on Wednesday. Endless looping through hold, ringing, hold. Gave up, called a few hours later. Person I finally reached was very nice and got it done. The kind of glitch I expect in the beginning. I hope in the future there isn’t a 15 minute lock out period…

  • KillMoto

    Personal stories capture people’s attention. Joe, I have experienced similar effects as you. But for those who need a study to be convinced: http://bikeportland.org/2013/01/30/bike-commuters-are-happiest-and-other-psu-research-tidbits-82448

  • Keira

    I also had problems docking and then not being able to take out another bike immediately. I just started walking to another dock. I thought I had finally figured out that the problem was I was leaving my key in too long. It seems like the trick is to insert the key, get a yellow light, and then immediately withdraw the key and after about 10-15 seconds you will get a green light. If you get a yellow light and leave your key in too long, you then get a red light. Now I’m not sure if that is really “the trick” or if it was just coincidental. Clearly there are lots of glitches with the computer system, but I am still madly in love : )

  • Ron

    As far as I’ve been able to tell, the yellow light comes on when its gotten your info off the key and is communicating with the main computer to confirm the unlock. So when the yellow light first comes on you can remove your key until you get the verdict. 🙂

  • carma

    america prescribes way too many happy pills. the best cure for most depressive patients is exercise and diet. while im generally in great shape and eat well, this week ive been just absolutely ecstatic. something about exploring the city i love by bike has just me overly giddy after work.

    we should definitely thank the bike share for faster commuting, healthier lifestyles, and a new economic boon for the city.

  • Keira

    I’ll give that a try tomorrow, thanks! And also to concur with you (as other here already have) the great positive energy BikeSharing has generated. I have engaged with so many (many!) strangers on the street over the past 3 days–either with fellow BikeSharers (swapping tips and enthusiasm) or interested pedestrians, passing motorists, or “private” cyclists all wanting to know “how is it?” I feel like an unofficial ambassador for bike-sharing.

  • I was under the impression that the 15 lockout was intentional. To try and keep users under the 45 minute window, unless they either are willing to pay the overtime fee otherwise they can take a break for a bit and then grab a new bike if they are in no rush. Has CitiBike made statements about this?

  • Anonymous

    The “word on the street” was that the lockout would be only about 2 minutes, but I haven’t found any official source and I haven’t tested it myself.

  • Anonymous

    Probably something like one in three returns haven’t worked as expected. They light blinks yellow, but never green, which makes me worry, but checking later the bike is shown returned. Once, I tried to take out a bike, and dock blinked yellow, then red. I tried several times at several docks at that station, with the same result. Ironically, I was trying to show a coworker how it works, but I could only show him how it doesn’t work. I walked to another station and the key worked there.

    Last night, I tried to return a bike to the station on Pitt St. (I was dockblocked at the station closest to home!). The yellow light went on, and stayed on; the bike was locked in the dock. I went to the kiosk to get a receipt. Trying several times, it was very slow to respond, and in the end told me repeatedly that my key was not registered. When I left the station, the yellow light was still on. I got home and check the website, but it was down. This morning I checked the website again, it showed that the bike was still out. So, I called customer service, and after a while on hold, they marked the bike as returned, and my key is supposed to work again.

    I’m trying to be patient, but I have to say, kiosk problems are already getting old. If they iron the kinks soon, the teething pains will soon be forgotten, but as it is, it puts a real damper on things if having to wonder if I’m going to have a problem each time I take out a bike.

  • Anonymous

    I took a bike out yesterday, rode it across town, and then docked it. Got the green light when it docked. Checked just now and that trip isn’t even listed on my account history.

    Now I’m worried they think I still have a bike out? Or did it just book it under someone elses account?

  • In Minneapolis I didn’t get any sort of lockout. Just dock a bike, swipe my card, get a new bike. Just interesting what different cities are doing.

  • Harald

    Bixi in Montreal has a lockout. I think it’s also 15 minutes, which normally is no big deal, but annoying if you check out a bike that has some kind of problem and you want to replace it with another one.

  • tyler

    I keep looking at this picture… this Ron guy looks *really* familiar. But I don’t know any Rons. Hmm….

  • Keira

    I am thinking (and hoping) it is just an unintentional glitch that will soon be rectified. Nowhere on the CitBike site or in any articles about the program have I seen any mention of a mandatory lockout period between rides.

  • Greg

    My experience in 14 trips:

    – 11 went green no problem.
    – 2 stayed yellow, but the docking was registered.
    – 1 went green, but the docking wasn’t registered and I could no longer take out bikes until I called Customer Service for a reset.

  • els

    I think it’s a glitch. I docked and just got a yellow earlier this week, so I tried taking out another bike right then and had no problem. (Pretty much what they suggest if you take a bike out and it has a problem.) But you’re right that there’s nothing specific about it on the website.

  • Edward

    Nice that he mentioned about finally getting NYer’s to open up and talk thanks in part to the bike share. This is one of the best things about a cycling city, those chance encounters and conversations with strangers. It brings people together.

  • Auntie

    Way to go!!!! You handsome guy you!!!

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