Early Adopters Take NYC Bike-Share for a Spin

Lower East Side residents Tom Cole, left, and Stephen Donovan, right, unlock their first bike-share bikes on Allen Street. Photo: Stephen Miller

Today, New Yorkers turned out under sunny skies to try out bike-share for the first time. Citi Bike went live at 11:00 a.m., but a few New Yorkers discovered that their keys were working at some stations before the official start time this morning. By noon, it was easy to spot people pedaling bright blue bikes without being on the lookout for them.

Opening day hasn’t been without hiccups: Bike availability data has been offline since the system launched this morning, leaving mobile applications rendering empty maps. Although the Citi Bike website is not displaying stations right now, DOT’s map will help you find the nearest bike-share station today. While bike availability information is unlikely to be a serious issue on the first day users try out the system, knowing how many bikes and docks are open will be essential info as more people use Citi Bike.

On the last day of a holiday weekend, though, the bike-share users I spoke to were simply enjoying the system. Josh Watson used his first bike-share ride this morning to go from his home in Fort Greene to the gym in Brooklyn Heights. “I like the fact that I can take it to work in the morning and not take it home if I don’t want to,” he said, contrasting it to riding a personal bike. “It’s much more flexible.”

Chris McNally of Crown Heights, who won her Citi Bike membership in a silent auction at last September’s fundraiser for Streetsblog and Streetfilms, also cited the program’s convenience. “I take the train into Manhattan at least once a week, but then I’m always sorry I don’t have my bike. To get east-west is a big problem,” she said.

Vinegar Hill resident Anton Dudley was taking his first bike-share ride on York Street. “We don’t have bike storage in our building,” he said, adding that he last rode a bike five years ago. “I’m very excited, actually. We’re just going to get a helmet right now.”

On the Lower East Side, Tom Cole was checking out a bike on Allen Street. He said the bike he owned was stolen recently. “I live in a third-floor walk-up, so I was excited about this because I don’t have to worry about parking a bike on the street,” he said.

Ivy Whitehead rode her own bike from her home in East Flatbush to DUMBO to try out bike-share this morning. Before moving back to her native Brooklyn, Whitehead lived in Paris. “I didn’t understand why they didn’t have it here,” she said. “It’s about time.”