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  1. #176
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacster View Post
    I took one into Central Park today and found out how really, really slow they are. I usually zip around the park, congestion permitting, but even kids were passing me. You just can't get them going and keep them going.
    Well, yeah. If you were tasked with designing a bike that hundreds of thousands of people would use and design for the lowest common denominator, you might come up with a similar design. To be durable, they are heavy, i.e. about 50 pounds (23 kg). To be easy to ride, the rider position is upright, and the handling is similar to that on a French moped. (Turn the handlebars, hardly leaning the bike at all.) To be possible to pedal all that weight with a not-all-that-strong physique, you provide three very low gears.

    All of that combines to make a very slow bike. When I try to pedal it hard, it punishes me. I barely get any extra speed, but I create a whole lot more sweat. I get the most out of the bike when I pedal very gently.

    As someone else said, all the gears are insanely low. Well, not insane, given the design requirements. But I call them slow, super-slow, and oh-forget-it. Since the bike is heavy, I almost always start from a standing stop in 2nd gear and then immediately shift to 3rd. I can't imagine using 1st myself, but some people will find it useful. At least they can't complain there isn't a low enough gear.

    Also, the brakes and bell are barely adequate. The brakes are chosen for durability and reliability, and I don't blame them, but I have to squeeze them pretty darned hard to get some good power. I have large and strong hands. And the levers are straight out in front of the handlebars, which seems pretty stupid to me. Maybe that's better for short people whose shoulders are level with the handlebars, but then how can they operate the brakes? Probably by not letting the bike coast fast down a hill.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  2. #177
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I've been inspired to write a blog post, based on my post above.

    Please read it here: Citibike - first impressions
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  3. #178
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    I've also found them to be wobbly. I tried riding over the Manhattan Bridge on them a few times now and I've always regretted it. By the time I get to Atlantic Avenue I'm drenched with sweat. You really need that low gear to lug that thing up the incline.

    I generally just keep to a slow steady unrushed pace on them. You get where you are going almost as fast anyway. I've always found that it doesn't matter how fast you go in NYC, you get there the same time anyway.

    When I was in Copenhagen (seems to be a theme lately with me) I took one of their bikes out for a ride and was even slower. You just couldn't move on it. They were an older design, and maybe they've learned something from that. I also tried in Milan, but theirs are the same as Citibikes. Montreal, Paris, London all seem the same too but I didn't try them.

  4. #179
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacster View Post
    I generally just keep to a slow steady unrushed pace on them. You get where you are going almost as fast anyway. I've always found that it doesn't matter how fast you go in NYC, you get there the same time anyway.
    True, and a lesson I should learn. It's also true on my bike, though trips on my bike tend to be a bit faster, though the minute or two I save on my 15 minute commute hardly matters.

    I've also found them to be wobbly...
    Really? I find them rock solid, both in a good way and a bad way. I describe it as riding a Sherman tank in first gear. I haven't taken one over a bridge yet though. In those cases, I'm always on my bike.

  5. #180
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    Not wobbly in that they are flexy, but in the steering.

  6. #181
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    My subscription laps a few weeks ago; it started the day after Memorial Day, as I was out of town the day of the official launch. I intend to renew, but I've just been waiting for the day when I need to use it again. That day might have been today; I have an after work errand for which it would have been convenient not to have my bike in tow. However, by 8:30am when I got up, pretty much the entire East Village and Lower East Side were devoid of bikes, without any to be had within at least a 10 minute walk of me. So, alas, it wasn't to be.

    Of all the mishegas Citi Bike has gone through, I see balancing issues as the most difficult and intractable without any simple quick fixes, and one I can't really blame Citi Bike for. Every bike share city has the problem, and the only real solution is expensive, labor intensive moving bikes around. Higher density of station might help, but I can't see that changing. Even when money appears to expand the system, they're going to add new new neighborhoods, and not add to neighborhoods already covered.

    I want to like bike share, and use it, but at the moment, the utility just isn't there.
    Last edited by wilfried; 06-17-14 at 09:48 AM.

  7. #182
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    As a new user, I am becoming familiar with this problem. I took a bus into NYC this morning, arriving at about 10:30. It was hard to find an available bike. I had to walk from the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 40th St to 31st St to find a bike. Parking wasn't a problem on Bank St near my home, though I've had trouble finding available slots.

    How come I have trouble docking the bikes? I shove it in hard or gently, and the slot doesn't acknowledge there is a bike. Is there a special technique?
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  8. #183
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    Tip the rear of the bike up a bit when you shove it in. I find that works.

    I couldn't find a bike near my office today either. At 5pm they're all gone. Today was an exceptional day for riding, but it could be cold and rainy and there still wouldn't be any bikes near me.

  9. #184
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    A lot of docks simply don't work. There are at least six in the station near my home which have been out of order for weeks. There is a quick fix in this case. Fix them! I'm sure Citi Bikes financial woes aren't helping in this regard.

  10. #185
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Spent most of a week in NYC just now, dropped in on Tom, and rode the Citibikes. I live in Portland, but have a Citibikes subscription. For the 4-5 times a year I'm in NYC, the taxi savings more than pay for it.

    I continue to love the system. The bikes seem to be holding up well, there are some torn seats and scuffed handlebars, and maybe one of five bikes I rented had something not completely right (soft tire, weak brake, etc) but all were still very rideable.

    The kiosk software remains pokey, I gather it is being revised to speed up getting a 1 or 7 day pass (I forgot my token, so had to buy a pass for this trip.)

    Rebalancing remains the biggest problem.

    It is remarkable how many Citibikes you see toodling around. Because they are a uniformly and bright color and distinctive shape, the Citibike fleet is more visually noticeable than an equivalent number of motley personal bikes would be. I wonder if the visibility of Citibikes is having any effect on drivers or safety?
    Last edited by jyl; 06-26-14 at 01:26 PM.
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  11. #186
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I do think the visibility and ubiquity (within the service area) do have good effects on drivers. It also helps that the bike puts the rider very high above the ground!

    I've been using the system moderately now. I'm not sure how many trips per week. Maybe four, on average. Yesterday, I went to both stations on Bank St, and was unable to remove any of the remaining bikes. I reported this. Today, I was unable to remove any bikes from the Christopher St station. I reported this, too, and the woman I spoke with confirmed that there's nothing wrong with my account which could explain my troubles. She dispatched someone to look at it.

    Today, I saw someone riding with a bike trailer for rebalancing. It holds up to four bikes. I think it was on East Broadway. His made a U-turn in front of the docking station, and trailer was empty, so I gather he had just dropped bikes off there. I appreciate the balancing efforts, but I suspect they can never perfect it.

    The folks on the phone are available quickly after I press 1 and then 0. They are courteous and helpful.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  12. #187
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    I've wondered if there is some way Citibikes can "crowdsource" the rebalancing.

    Suppose they offered to pay $X to ride a bike from a crowded station to an empty station .

    The way it might work is, their software identifies a need to have fewer bikes at stations A B C and more at stations X Y Z and that it is worth $X to them; they notify you of this offer, either via the Citibikes smartphone app or via text; "you" being Citibike users who have opted-in to these offers; if it is worth your time, you take a bike from station C and ride it to station Y and $X is paid to the credit card you have on file. $X would be dynamic - if they have a rebalancer en route anyway, X might be low or zero, but if no rebalancer is going to be available for hours and the need is great, then X would be higher.

    Would this work? What would X have to be, to motivate someone to ride a bike from, say, mid-town to west side at 9 am, after the first wave of commuters has emptied the west side stations and filled the mid-town stations? And would that X be low enough to actually reduce Citibike's rebalancing costs? I have previously guesstimated it might cost them $1-2 to rebalance a bike, if you include fully loaded cost of the rebalancer, his truck or bike, benefits and payroll fees/taxes.
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  13. #188
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    The army behind Capital Bikeshare?s rebalancing - The Washington Post

    This says that the average Washington DC rebalancer moves 80 bikes/day.
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  14. #189
    Senior Member hotbike's Avatar
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    Updates from Citi Bike

    They have issued a Bulletin on "How to Un-Pin" a Citibike Dock that won't accept a Citibike to be docked.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11629987@N02/sets/72157639939606343/

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