I have a confession to make: Before last month, I had never ridden a Citi Bike.
But after countless late night subway rides, MTA fare hikes and seeing friends refreshed with their Citi Bikes, I finally gave in.
Access to Brooklyn Tech Hubs
In August and September, Citi Bike added 79 new stations in Brooklyn, including 20 in Greenpoint, 33 in Williamsburg and 26 in Bed-Stuy. By 2017, there will be Citi Bike stations in seven new Brooklyn neighborhoods: Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Crown Heights, Gowanus, Prospect Heights, Park Slope and Red Hook.
In preparation for my first ride, I met with Joy Andrada, a freelance B2B marketer and events strategist who joined Citi Bike soon after it started. She commutes to work on a Citi Bike, riding from the Classon Avenue and Lexington Avenue Citi Bike station near her home in Clinton Hill to the York Street and Jay Street station in Dumbo.
“I have a lot of friends who live in Greenpoint, and of course that’s a big hub for … the creative and technology class of New York City,” she said. “If I want to go to an event at Kickstarter, it goes right up there now. That was never possible. I would have to ride my own bike.”
As a freelancer, mobility is important to Andrada, who frequently rides to meetings during the day. “I think it gives you access to the city which you just can’t get on foot or on mass transit,” she said.
The Cab Fares Are Too Damn High
At Andrada’s suggestion, I rode through Dumbo into Brooklyn Bridge Park at sunset. At the Citi Bike Station between Pearl and Anchorage Streets, I met Zack Light, who works at Altima’s new Brooklyn office. The digital marketing company is well established in Europe and has worked with respected companies like Mizuno and IMG Direct. Light and his boss ride Citi Bikes to meetings with clients.
“Little trips that I would have hailed a cab for, now I just get on a bike and do it for free,” he said. “One of our clients was over at [the] Jay Street-Metrotech [subway stop] and we would just take bikes over there and show up to meetings with our helmets in our hands.”
Light purchased a Citi Bike membership two months ago because he was tired of dragging his bike into his office’s basement every day, so it wouldn’t get stolen. He uses it to commute to work every day from his apartment near the Barclays Center. The best part of Citi Bike is “just being able to dump it off,” he said.
If you’re curious which Citi Bike stations are the most popular, it’s easy to find out. Citi Bike makes a great deal of its data publicly accessible including the duration, time and beginning and end points of users’ trips. They also offer a mobile app with station locations, bike availability, route planning and even where to get the best latté.
I also met Raghav Rao and Tatum Stewart, dropping off bikes at the Bedford Avenue and South 9th Street Citi Bike station, on their way to a friend’s birthday party. Both Rao and Stewart shave time off their commutes by riding to the subway station.
Rao, who is the assistant to the CEO at a risk and compliance firm that works with tech companies, likes the experience of biking to the train every morning. “The best thing about it is I feel very involved in my commute. If I’m taking public transport I’m being moved,” he said.
Enjoy the Ride
Later on, I met Arjun Menon, a software engineer at Amplify, after parking a bike at Front and Washington Streets. He uses Citi Bike to replace one leg of his commute, riding over the Brooklyn Bridge to the PATH train station near the World Trade Center. It adds ten minutes to his trip, but he enjoys the ride.
“You get a really stunning view. Have you ever biked over the Brooklyn Bridge?” He asked. I hadn’t. “You see the river. You see the boats. It’s a really scenic view.”
Vincent Ferrer, who helps Spanish startup companies at NYU Poly’s DUMBO Incubator, likes to use Citi Bikes in areas of Brooklyn where there isn’t reliable or convenient subway service. He commutes to his apartment in Brooklyn Heights.
“By bike it’s just five minutes. I have one by my door and one right by the office,” he said.
Rao is particularly excited about Citi Bike’s recent expansion to Bed-Stuy, Greenpoint and Williamsburg.
“It felt like it spread so rapidly. There’s a new one popping up everywhere. I think every city should have a bike share,” he said.-30-