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Earlier this year New York City officially joined the ranks of cities with biking programs such as Paris, London and Barcelona with their Citi Bike NYC bikeshare program.
The Citi Bike program, operated by New York Bike share is probably one of the most affordable modes of transportation NYC has to offer. And perhaps the most fun? Not to mention you get exercise, see the city, reduce your carbon footprint…the benefits are endless!
Now that NYC has over 700 miles of bike lanes, it’s an efficient way to get from A to B. Just 3 weeks into the program (which started in June 2013) there were already 40,000 members.
Picture your typical rush hour in NYC (we all have been there, smashed in the metro against sweaty people, stuck in a standstill taxi in traffic on Broadway, literally being moved by giant herds of people walking in Herald Square). However, this has been a controversial topic. Many people are worried about the safety of bikers, and dislike the idea of digging up more bike lanes around the city. Others say that bikes are too slow for a fast-paced city like NYC and the technology on the bikes is often down making it frustrating to reliably used (often garner the program an offensive name- just think of what kind of rhymes with Citi).
Despite the controversy, most seem to be very pleased with the Citi Bike System. I haven’t tried it yet, but it is on my to-do list.
HOW IT WORKS
You can purchase a 24 hour ($9.95 + tax) or 7 day ($25 plus tax) rental pass from any of the 600 docking stations. With these passes, you have 30 minutes to use the bike and if you go over, additional charges occur. Annual passes are available for purchase online for $95 plus tax. With the annual pass, you have 45 minutes each time you use the bike or extra charges will occur. When you buy the 24 hour or 7 day pass, you are given a code, whereas with the annual pass, you will be mailed a key.
Once you’ve purchased your desired pass, you simply unlock your bike using the code, (or a key, if you have an annual pass) adjust it for fit, and bike off into the sunset!
When you are ready to return the bike, simply dock it into the station until you see a green light. If the station is full, you can request an extra credit of 15 minutes, which is enough to give you time to find a nearby docking station with space. However, there are twice as many docking points as bikes in order to ensure there will always be space for your bike.
The bikes are durable and can be used for people of any height and weight. The bikes come with baskets for storage and have three speeds. The tires are filled with nitrogen for longer inflation, and have thicker tires to prevent flats. The bike frame is aluminum to prevent corrosion. Each bike also has a kickstand.
HOW TO BIKE FOR FREE
Here is the exciting part-if you have a MasterCard, you can get a free 24 hour pass to try out Citi Bike. This option is open to all cardholders. You simply select the 24 hour pass at the docking station, then swipe your MasterCard and enter a code you get online from the above link. You have until the end of September to get the code, and then until Oct. 31st to use the complimentary pass. Remember, the free pass does not cover any extra charges or fees associated with late return, damages, etc. so just be mindful of that.
If you don’t currently have a MasterCard they come with a bunch of benefits, which I’ll highlight in a different post. In my opinion, the top MasterCard sign-up bonuses are:
BarclayCard Arrival: 40,000 points after $1,000 spent within 3 months. $89 annual fee, waived the first year.
Chase United Explorer card: 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in 3 months when you sign up for this card in a Chase branch or if you are targeted on United.com or 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. $95 annual fee waived for the first year on both offers.
This MasterCard offer s a great way to try out the program for free to see if you like it. Just remember, bike safely!
Has anyone tried the program yet? What have your experiences been?
Hat tip TPG reader Joey!