Why Bike Share Is Perfect for New York: Because We're &*#%^@ Impatient

We're waiting.

Can we just install bike share already?Maybe it’s just us, but The Observer already can’t wait for the city’s 10,000-strong bike share system to get here. Just consider our experience the past two days, since the system was unveiled.

The first was heading back to the office, on 44th Street and 8th Avenue, from the announcement at Madison Square. We headed underground, waited a good seven minutes for the R-train to come, headed up to Times Square, then had to fight through the midday crowds to get to The New York Observer Building. (Never heard of it? It’s the one with Birdland in the ground floor, across the street from Shake Shack.)

Total trip time? About 22 minutes. According to Google, we could have biked that distances in 13 minutes, but we know, even on one of those lumbering bike share bikes, we probably could have done it in half that time—or about as long as we were waiting for the subway alone. The trial bike we took for a spin down to 8th Avenue and back was only a four minute trip. And which is more unpleasant, sweating on a bike or in a sweltering subway station?

Then, yesterday, The Observer was running late to the Jane’s Carousel opening in Brooklyn Bridge Park. We thought it was happening in a different part of Dumbo, to boot, so we took the F-train instead of the A-train (yeah, yeah, you’d think we just moved here, it is embarrassing). Ten minutes of running around could have been cut down to three or four—assuming we could comfortably navigate the cobblestones.

Then, we hopped back on the A-train to meet up with the wife in Chelsea for the David Bryne opening at Pace that our friend put together. It took seven minutes to walk down 25th Street, something we could have biked in two, which is maybe a little extreme. But hell, we’re a neurotic bunch, and is there really any other way to pull up to a David Bryne show than on a bike?

City officials and transportation advocates, in discussing the new bike share program, talked widely about how it is not so much a new piece of infrastructure as “an extra layer to our ferry, subway, bus and taxi network” as DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said Wednesday. And our experience seems to prove this. Running late for a meeting or a date? Just can’t wait to get where you’re going? The sidewalks are especially crowded? Grab a bike, and off you go.

This makes the new East River ferry service make a lot more sense, for example, and all that new development on the Far West Side. And it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than building a new subway, or even a bus line. In fact, it’s free.

Despite the bicycle backlash of the past year, The Observer is going to go out on a limb and say the bike sharing program will be even more popular than the gearheads imagine. If only we were patient enough to wait for the system to be complete next summer.

mchaban [at] observer.com | @MC_NYC Why Bike Share Is Perfect for New York: Because We're &*#%^@ Impatient