Daily Bike Forecast — by Bike Snob NYC

September 13th, 2018: Any Dock In A Storm

More rain and fog today:

Thursday Weather

Thursday A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Patchy fog before 9am. Otherwise, cloudy, with a high near 77. Northeast wind around 9 mph.

Thursday Night A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms before 9pm, then a slight chance of showers between 9pm and midnight. Cloudy, with a low around 69. East wind 8 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Sunrise: 6:35am

Sunset: 7:08pm

It's also Primary Day, so fender up and head over to the polls:

Asshole

In other political news, the race for mayor of Vancouver is really heating up:

She must've read that Steve Cuozzo column.

Note that the Henry Hudson Bridge walkway will be going offline for almost two years starting next month, and there's a push to keep it open during construction:

Also, Polly Trottenberg spoke to the New York Cycle Club on Tuesday night, and Steve Vaccaro's recounting of the event is worth reading:

Speaking of dockless bike share, back in August I checked out Jump bikes in the Bronx, with mixed results.  Since then of course Citi Bike have joined them, and I finally made it over to the service area to give them a try:

Citi Site

As I did when trying the Jump bikes, I took the 1 train to 207th Street:

207

Where I changed to the BX12 Select Bus, which goes right through the heart of the dockless pilot area.  Whereas last time this was a fairly painless journey, this time I and around 50 of my fellow New Yorkers waited something like a half hour for a bus, which is especially egregious considering it was a Wednesday morning in September:

Bus Stop

Finally two buses arrived at once, and I disembarked at Fordham Road and Southern Boulevard, as the app showed most of the bikes to be scattered around the Belmont/Little Italy area:

Citi App

Recently I'd heard from a Citi Bike user in the Bronx who was frustrated with the system.  First, she was receiving charges for ending her rides outside of the service area (doing so results in a $20 fee), even though she was in fact doing so within the service area.  Citi Bike reversed the erroneous charges, but then she found that bikes showing up on the app were not in fact there once she arrived at their supposed location--it seems that perhaps people are storing them off the street and in their homes.  (I won't say "stealing;" I'll say "appropriating for personal use.")  She's now decided to cancel her subscription.

I, too, found that the nearest bike to me according to the app wasn't actually there, and wandering around the green pin in search of a phantom bicycle was a bizarre and frustrating experience.  So I continued on to where there appeared to be a number of bikes, figuring they couldn't all be illusory:

Citi App 1

And at first as I scanned the area I didn't see any bikes at all:

No Bikes

Though after walking around a bit I did find one:

Citi Bike

An app that doesn't square with reality is irritating, but it's still better than Jump's app which shows no bikes at all:

Jump App

Unlocking the bike was a straightforward proposition, and the bike itself rode nicely.  And any issues with the app notwithstanding it was good to see Citi Bike out and about in the neighborhood actively tending to the fleet:

Citi Worker

After riding around for a few minutes I switched from one Citi Bike to another to test the locking and unlocking process--and again it worked fine.  Then I spotted a Jump bike and figured I'd jump ship for it:

Citi Jump

Operating the rain-soaked keypad was difficult, and ultimately I was unable to unlock the bike with either my phone number or account number:

Keypad

So much for that.

So I hopped back on the Citi Bike, which I finally left at Fordham Plaza:

Fordham Plaza

And passed over another Jump bike in favor of the BX12 SBS for my return trip:

Jump Bike

While my admittedly brief experience with dockless Citi Bike was far from a failure, I can't say it was all that encouraging either.  The inherent unpredictability of a dockless system (coupled with the discrepancies between the app and the actual availability of bicycles) means it's difficult to plan ahead or establish a commuting routine, and it's understandable why the user who contacted me recently would decide to cancel.  Waiting for my return bus, I also noted that, apart from the bike I had just parked and the one Jump bike pictured above, there were no bikes in what is a very busy transportation hub: there's a Metro North station as well as multiple bus lines here.  As it is, someone getting off a Metro North can't count on there being a bike available for that "last mile"--which, as I found out that morning, could instead involve waiting 30 minutes for a bus.

Again, my experiences have been brief, and of course these are pilot programs, but to me what these pilot programs reveal is how much the Bronx would gain if the docked Citi Bike network were to expand over the Harlem river.  This borough deserves better than two dockless systems, one with an app that shows zero bikes even when they're there, and another with an app that shoes multiple bikes even when there are none.

Ironically, the most successful bike share program in the Bronx could end up being Yonkers's Lime bike system.  People use it regularly to get to and from the 1 train terminus at 242nd Street, and there are almost always bikes waiting there:

Lime

Had I grabbed one of those instead of taking the subway to the bus I might have saved myself some time:

Lime

Go figure.