Like an alien invasion brought to you an intergalactic banking company, thousands of identical blue bicycles materialized throughout parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn over the weekend, drawing a ceaseless procession of curious gawkers. A small crowd seemed to fluctuate at every bike share station, with bystanders examining the objects like wide-eyed hominids reaching out to stroke a bewildering new monolith. And some highly evolved individuals even took them out of their docking stations to ride them!
According to Citi Bike, as of 5 p.m. yesterday, there had been 6,050 Citi Bike trips. The average duration of each trip was 20.48 minutes, for a total number of 13,768 miles traveled. And these numbers don't include one time users, who won't be able to use Citi Bike during this first week, which is only open to "founding" cyclists who bought annual memberships.
Citi Bike says the most popular starting stations yesterday were East 17 Street & Broadway, Broadway & West 57th Street, and Broadway & East 14th Street. Those first two starting stations were also the most popular end stations, as well as University Place and East 14th Street. For now, Citi Bike is only available in parts of Manhattan below 59th Street and yupster Brooklyn, but the city plans to expand it to the other boroughs sooner rather than later.
772 people bought annual memberships yesterday, bringing the total to 16,463 annual members. Among them is Gothamist publisher Jake Dobkin, who finally got his Citi Bike key hours before Monday's debut. Jake wrote a glowing review of his Citi Bike experience here. The NY Post, as it happens, talked to some people who weren't too keen on Citi Bike. Can You Imagine?! In an article headlined "Uneasy riders: City’s bike share off to rocky start," the Post brings Citi Bike to its knees by quoting a total of three people who weren't completely satisfied, plus one bike thief:
DeNorval Parks, 52, owner of a Brooklyn barber shop, said he was able to easily yank a bike from its dock at Carlton and Park avenues — without a key card.
“You saw me! I didn’t use any excessive force; it just came right out!” he said, before taking a short ride and then jamming the bike back into the rack. “I should be able to call the city and get some kind of reward for returning this.”
Come on Parks, isn't serving the Post's rabid anti-bike agenda reward enough? One cyclist complained to the Post that the bikes were too bulky, while West Village cyclist Cynthia Grayson was sad the city didn't assign workers to all 300 bike share stations to help with the process. "The rollout was poorly planned," said Cynthia Grayson. "The app wasn’t working correctly... They didn’t have people at the stations." Indeed, America's largest bike share program is also the loneliest.
One Citi Bike was stolen over the weekend before the Monday launch, but it was swiped before the bikes were locked into their racks. Parks's success in ripping out a bike without a key card seems highly suspicious in our experience, but even if individuals are able to steal bikes, one has to wonder who is going to buy them. These suckers weigh 45 pounds are seriously fugly; it's hard to see them fetching much of a price on the black market. But who knows, maybe you can sell them as scrap?