I’ve been gleefully awaiting the new bikeshare program, and for weeks have been contemplating the many ways I’d use it. Primarily, I’ve assumed, it’ll be handy for quick crosstown access to the subway on the East Side. According to Google Maps I’m 1.2 miles from the Lexington Avenue line, a distance it’s (much) faster to walk than it is to travel by bus. But even the closer subway — 8th Avenue — is a half mile away; surely the little blue bike will make mincemeat of that trip.
Today I used the bikeshare for the first time, and something utterly unexpected became clear: the bike actually promotes more walking.
A few days a week I work in a library on the upper east side, and usually I ride my own bike the 4 miles or so up and across town. But on rainy days I take the subway. Today, it was sunny in the morning, but promised to be lousy in the afternoon. In pre-bikeshare days I would just grab a few extra sections of the newspaper and take the subway both ways, eliminating any hope of a walk. But not today. Instead, I grabbed a bike at 11th Avenue and rode up the Hudson River Greenway to the docking station that’s closest to the library: 6th Avenue at 56th Street. It’s an inconvenient just-under-a-mile distance, but the result was a nice walk along the eastern edge of Central Park.
When I left the library it was pouring. In my glee about the blue bike I had forgotten to bring an umbrella, so it was a rainy walk back to the subway on the upper east side. But then it was a superfast bike ride from the subway station to my home on the far West Side. That was one benefit. The astonished looks from truck drivers as they saw a crazy, drenched, woman on a CitiBike in the pouring ride riding at full speed? Priceless.
So: my bikeshare back-of-the-envelope tally of savings has me up by $2.75, the fare I saved on the trip north this morning. The annual fee for the Citibike program is (with tax) $103.43, so I have many rivers to cross before earning it back. But if time is worth anything, I’m already ahead. Even more, I had a lovely walk that included bird song, pneumatic drill, plus the discovery of a monument to Richard Morris Hunt I had never noticed before, on 70th Street.
This is why the walkable city is such a gift to humanity.