Widespread availability of bikesharing may be more than a month away, but there was a Citibikes test-riding station set up in Tompkins Square today that allowed visitors to take the blue bikes for a spin and ask questions of program personnel. About an hour into the four-hour event, approximately 30 people had dropped by the tent set up in the shade. Around ten of those 30 wanted to try out the bikes by riding halfway across the park before turning around, and half of those people were media, who then attempted to interview each other about their thoughts on the program.
The Citibike is the fourth generation model of its design and it shows. A lot of the kinks seem to have been ironed out and it rides like a bike that will be comfortable for beginners and more experienced riders alike. The dropped crossbar seems to provide a very low center of gravity on the Citibike, so it feels very stable and forgiving. The shorter wheelbase seemed to make it very nimble at low speeds. It's impossible to say how the bike performs at higher-than-first gear in a 300-foot test ride.
The Citibike seems heavy—really heavy—but users will never need to carry it up or down stairs, and rarely use it for more than an hour, so weight doesn't seem to be a big problem. Everything like lights, a front bag rack with bungee straps, and fenders are all integrated into the design. Users can just hop on and hop off with little preparation. The rider pictured above is an NYC bike commuter from Sweden, who compared the Citibike favorably with the bikes available in her home country. The only complaint: the Citibike's absence. When are these things going to be available, anyway? And will you use them?