Citi Bike makes long awaited debut for early bird members
The city lifted the starting gates for its long-awaited bike share program Monday, and there were plenty of Big Apple pedal pushers at the starting line.
After activating the 6,000 bikes at racks scattered throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn Monday, eager members enjoyed the warm Memorial Day weather and said paying the $95 membership fee was worth it.
"It's really awesome," said Patrick McGinnis, 37, an investor from the West Village who rode yesterday. "I think New York is a good city for biking so this just exemplifies it."
The mayor's office tweeted Monday evening that there were 5,411 Citi Bike trips as of 5 p.m.
Mayor Michael Bloom-berg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said Citi Bike is a perfect commuting option for the city. The commissioner noted that the number of cyclists doubled since 2007 and she and her team wanted to give those riders an accessible option.
"It's a rare thing to see a new transit system come alive," she said at a news conference at one of the bike share stands at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge.
More than 15,000 people have signed up so far for an annual membership.
Citi Bike was supposed to begin last year, but a technical problem and superstorm Sandy pushed it back.
The program's training wheels, however, are still on for the entire week. Starting June 2, non-annual members, who pay $9.95 and $25 for day and week passes respectively, will be able to ride.
Many of the early bird members who tried the bikes Monday said they had few problems with the two-wheelers. Dan Acton, 36, of Brooklyn, had a little trouble getting the bike out of a rack in Clinton Hill but once he did, it was smooth ride.
"I think it will be worth my money. I'll use it a lot to get cross town," he said.
Scot Schy, 48 of the West Village, said he will use the bikes daily for errands and commuting. "It's a great public amenity," he said.
But not everyone is pleased with program. Some residents in Manhattan and Brooklyn have complained that the racks take up too much space on their blocks and are eyesores.
The tenants of 99 Bank St. in the West Village tried to sue the city after they contended a rack blocked the building's entrance.
"One of the reasons I moved here was for the quiet and look of the neighborhood. Now this shows up," Randy McHaney, 64, said as he pointed to the bike stand.