Bike Share Program Wheelie Wants Your Business

photo(246)Sarah Darville Yael Carmel (center) tries out a bike.

The 7,000 bicycles that will hit the road when the city’s bike share program launches at the end of summer were meant to be sturdy and hard to topple. “They’re a bit like a tank,” remarked a Citi Bike employee who showed some of them off at Tompkins Square Park today.

So when Yael Carmel wobbled and nearly fell off of one of them, she had to laugh. It was one of her first times on a bike after recently learning to ride, she admitted. The employee steadied her and she was off toward Avenue B.

“I really like it,” she said as she got off the bike. “I need to get used to the idea of riding in the city. But I will.”

Ms. Carmel’s test ride might terrify those who worry the city’s bike share program will flood the streets with inexperienced riders, but today’s preview attracted more experienced cyclists as well.

bike shareSarah Darville

Sitting on her personal bright blue Schwinn, Meghan Gille, a self-described “car hater,” estimated that in the past three weeks she had saved $40 in transportation costs by riding her bike. A bike share membership would add another layer of convenience, she said.

“Not everyone wants to buy a bike — where do you store a bike around here? You’re lucky if you can afford it,” she said. “I’d consider signing up in a heartbeat.”

But others balked at the price of the program: $9.95 per day and $25 per week for an unlimited number of half-hour rides. Users who want to sign up for longer rides pay an additional $4 for hour-long trips, or another $13 for trips of an hour and a half, and so on. Participants can also opt for a yearly pass for an unlimited number of 45-minute rides.

When Laura Zelasnic, an East Village resident, heard a yearly pass would cost $95, plus additional fees for longer rides. she gave the Citi Bike employees a firm thanks, but no thanks.

“I think the cost is prohibitive,” she said. “And on our crowded streets, we’re reaching critical mass with bicycles.”

Citi Bikes will demo the program again at 17th Street and Union Square East next Tuesday from noon to 4 p.m.