It started as a normal date night: Shawn, a bearded graduate student who favors lumberjack plaid, went to Williamsburg for dinner and drinks with his girlfriend. But instead of taking the L train from their Chelsea apartment, they decided to ride Citi Bikes there and back.
A couple of cocktails at the Wythe Hotel led to beers at Mable’s Smokehouse and a nightcap at Post Office, a dive-like whiskey bar. After four or five drinks, they undocked a pair of blue bikes and rode home over the Williamsburg Bridge.
As usual, Shawn sped ahead, and as they ascended over the East River, he turned around to see where his girlfriend was. That’s when he lost his balance, kicked his foot into a bridge railing and broke his toe.
“I really wasn’t that drunk,” said Shawn, 30, who uses the bike-share program about 20 times a week. (Shawn, like many of the people interviewed, asked that his full name not be used; drinking and cycling is not really something to toot your bike horn about.) “I’ve never blackout Citi Biked.”
Citi Bike, the city’s newest form of public transportation, is colliding with one of the city’s favorite pastimes: bar hopping. While ridership peaks during the day (for commuting to work, running errands and sightseeing), some New Yorkers are beginning to see it as a convenient way to explore the city’s night life, despite the obvious pitfalls of getting behind those handlebars after a drink or two.
For bar crawlers on a budget, the bike-share system beats paying for a cab; rides under 45 minutes are complimentary to members who pay a $95 annual fee. It’s also better than sweating on a subway platform and woozily waiting for a train after a night of partying. This is especially true now, when late summer breezes make cycling almost bucolic.
“At night, not to sound cheesy, but you have the wind at your back and you just feel carefree,” said Jillian, a bubbly 29-year-old brunette lawyer in Chelsea who has been to known to joy ride on a Citi Bike after a few cocktails. . .