Transit Sam, Week of July 10, 2013

Citi Bike breakdowns can mean longer travel times. Photo by Sam Schwartz.



Vive la France! Bastille Day Tribeca will turn West Broadway between White and Walker Sts. into petanque courts (kinda like French Bocce) 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday.

All Manhattan-bound lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge will close 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday nights, so watch out for extra traffic at the Manhattan Bridge and Battery Tunnel.

Both York Street between Sixth Ave. and St. John’s Lane and St. John’s Lane between Laight and Beach Sts. will close 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.

In the Battery Park Underpass, one lane in each direction (between the FDR and West St./Route 9A) will close 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday. One tube of the underpass will close 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday nights, as well as 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday.

Dear Readers:

I reviewed Citi Bikes last month and at that time, I was worried about breakdowns.  Well, things appear to have gotten worse.  I’m an avid “bike sharer,” so this is pretty disappointing.  Here’s my experience on Monday, a sweltering day:

Went to take a bike out on MacDougal.  First bike wouldn’t release after a couple of tries.  Second bike released fine, great.  So I hopped on only to hear a grinding sound and pedaling was a bit of a workout.  But, I was only going to Mercer so I figured I could handle the rough ride.  Got to Mercer and no docking stations available.  Went to Great Jones and saw one available dock – yay!  I raced there before the next rider could.  Shoved my bike into the dock a half-dozen times till I realized it was broken and I’d be charged $1,000 if I left it there.   I had a déjà vu moment of waiting on a subway platform and watching jammed car after car pass by and then seeing an empty car in front of me and thinking “what luck!”  Yes, veterans of our underground know what happens next.  I walk into the empty car and almost immediately get a foul whiff of you-know-what.  I still stupidly get into empty cars on jammed subways.

So there I am on Great Jones, 15 minutes into a 5 minute bike ride.  The woman next to me is aggravated; she paid for a daily rate and the code won’t work.  She leaves, frantic. A guy pulls into the broken dock, no luck for him either.  I then try something that shouldn’t work.  I don’t want to get on the broken bike again, so I release a docked bike. Technically, I have two bikes out simultaneously.  I shove the broken bike into that dock hoping I won’t incur the wrath of the bike share gods or a $1,000 fee.

I head to Petrosino Square on the good bike and find a working dock some 30 minutes into my odyssey and no closer to my destination than when I started, although a lot sweatier and late to my meeting. Bike share is a great concept but the operators must do a better job of maintaining the system.