I haven't owned a bike since I was 10 years old.
True story: When I asked my mom if we had a bike she could bring up to Furman so I could ride to class, she showed up in Greenville with the bike I had as a 10 year old.
Another true story: She made me go to a bicycle shop and listen to them tell her what I'd already told her — there's no way to make a bike made for a 10 year old work for a 20 year old. I haven't stepped in a bike shop since. (Though I've wanted to, bad.)
Thankfully, Nashville, like lots of other cities, has invested in a new bicycle share program called B-cycle. Over the last few months, we've watched bike hubs spring up across the city—stations where 10 bikes are locked up and ready for the renting. But as we passed by in our four-wheeled vehicle, I kept wondering... how does this really work?
So... over Memorial Day weekend, when the weather was perfect, Patrick and I decided to take some b-cycles for a spin. We made some mistakes and learned some lessons that I felt I needed to share. So whether you're visiting the city, or (like us) just don't want to shell out the cold hard cash for your own cruiser—here are five tips to b-cycling Nashville.
STEP ONE: Sign up online. This takes an extra few minutes, and just a little bit of forethought. When you sign up, you'll be mailed a b-cycle card that can work at any of the b-cycle cities (16 total). We did not do this. We walked up to the station and clicked the screen, and put in our debit card, and took out a bike. (WARNING: You only have 30 seconds to take out said bike.)
STEP TWO: Understand the Cost. B-cylce bikes cost $5 per bike per day PLUS a usage fee of $1.50 every HALF hour after your first free hour. We did not understand this.
STEP THREE: Understand the Loophole to the Cost. Bike sharing is all about sharing. So the idea behind the "free hour" is for you to be able to grab a bike, ride to work, and drop off the bike at a different station. Little did Patrick and I know... that the "free" hour resets every time you check your bike in to a new station. Therefore, the next time we take a bike ride across Nashville, we will click in and out of a few stations along the way, so it really will only cost $5.
STEP FOUR: Ride across the Pedestrian Bridge. You just HAVE to. It's so gorgeous. (And there's a station to click in and out of on both sides.)
STEP FIVE: Return the bike.
It's that easy.
**Note: a former version of this blog post was titled "How to B-Cylce." My apologies.