For the tl;dr version, skip to the very end. 😀
ICYMI: Metro Bike Share is now open to everyone, with a special introductory walk-up price of $1.75 per half hour. While Metro Bike has been in operation since July, I haven’t tried it yet because it was only for pass holders and I didn’t want to buy a pass because I’m cheap. Now that walk-ups are available, I figured I’d give it a go. (As I write this, I sort of wish I’d picked a cooler day to try this because it was SO HOT outside and now I am sweaty and gross. Alas, hindsight is 20/20.)
I walked to the Metro Bike station outside of Union Station near Alameda Street and yes, as a few others have pointed out, it’s a little bit tucked away and not immediately obvious to those looking for it. But it’s not impossible to find! Then I checked out a bike with my credit card and here’s how it went:
The walk-up process is pretty simple.
- touch the screen to start
- say yes to purchasing a 30-minute trip
- accept the user agreement
- enter promo code if you have one
- insert your credit card of choice
- enter ZIP code
- enter phone number so you can receive a text message about your bike if you so choose
- then select an available bike from its dock.
Before you ask, no, you cannot use your TAP card to pay for a walk-up ride. But you can link a bike share pass to your TAP card if you plan to use Metro Bike frequently, and then you can skip pretty much all of the above steps.
You get 30 seconds to grab your chosen bicycle, and then you’re on your way. Pro-tip: the best speed setting for general riding around is probably second gear. The bike feels sort of wobbly on first gear unless you’re jamming uphill, and it’s a bit of a workout to pedal in third.
Despite the fact that I was a bicycle commuter when I lived in Taiwan, I have never really been comfortable biking the streets of Los Angeles. For the sake of getting a more extensive bike share experience, however, I tried. Los Angeles Street is easily accessible from Union Station and has a lovely protected bike lane, so that’s the direction I headed in. And I have to say, the bollards made the ride feel really, really comfortable. In the sections where the bike lane was just a set of painted lines, I found myself almost obsessively trying to stay within the lane to the point where I wasn’t really paying attention to my surroundings — which made it particularly nerve-wracking when a truck zoomed by.
I also really liked the dedicated bicycle traffic signals. As someone who doesn’t bike very much, they helped make it a little easier to navigate around. 😎
The trip to the City Hall was a quick one, but because I was just testing out the system, I decided not to dock my bike there and rode back to Union Station. Dropping off the bike was quick and easy, and you get a text confirming the bike has been returned, which is nice.
So, final verdict: am I a bike share convert? Will I be riding around DTLA every chance I get? Probably not every chance…I am personally well served in DTLA by Metro, DASH and my feet. But once the weather cools off a little more, I think I’d use Metro Bike to swing by some of the places that normally take too long to walk to, like Poppy + Rose near the Fashion District (I really, really want to eat here ~ ).
And of course, loving my two feet more than riding on two wheels doesn’t mean I don’t see the value of having a thriving bike share system. More bikes on the road make it safer to ride for all, and more mobility options make for better communities. I am looking forward to seeing the system expand — I feel like it will be much more useful to me in my neck of the woods (Pasadena). But until bike share gets there, I definitely encourage everyone to give DTLA bike share a try, especially as it’s only $1.75 per half hour ride through October 1.Here are a few streets with great bike lanes to help you get started. If bike share changes the way you get around and connect with transit, let me know!
tl;dr: I tried a thing, it was okay. And if someone like me, who isn’t that great at biking city streets, can do this thing, so can you!