This is the first in an intermittent series on smarter ways of living in NYC. City life is expensive and difficult but there are smarter ways to get things done.
Getting around the city is better on a bike. It’s cheaper. It’s healthier. It’s usually faster than the subway and guaranteed to be faster than the buses. Finally, you can estimate to within 5 minutes when you will arrive. Use maps.google.com to generate good estimates.
Oh, and did I mention the ‘cheaper’ part? A bike I just bought for $125 will pay for itself in subway fare avoided in a little less than one month. ($127 for an unlimited MetroCard) That’s eleven months of free transportation around the city. You’ve just save $1,397. Not bad, huh?
Owning a bike in NYC
Unless you know that you can store your bike at the start point and endpoint of your trip, don’t even think about owning an expensive bike. What you will be buying is heartache. It’s going to be stolen. No, don’t tell me you have a good lock. NYC bike thieves have advanced degrees in all manner of locksmithing, chain disassembly, and other related dark arts. So how do you win at this game?
How to buy a bike in NYC
There’s always craigslist.com. You’ll find deals there. You might even be able to buy back the bike that you owned for the last few years. No, I’m not kidding. This is business. Entrepreneurship at its sketchiest. But these individual buyers, typically, are willing to wait for their price and don’t have a good sense of the market – i.e. they are at the higher end of the price range.
The sellers who want to move product are the bike rental shops. They need to have bikes that are nice enough to please tourists and not make them nervous about their ride. That means they’ll give you a better price to free up some cash for new inventory. They maintain them well for the same reasons noted above.
The rental shops around Central Park are a reliable source of used bikes. I’ve had good luck with rentbike.nyc. And unlimitedbiking.com mentioned good prices when I spoke to them recently.
Go green. Save green. Make your friends green with envy. I hope your a’green with me on this one.
PS – You need to have a good heavy chain and bike lock. Don’t use a cable. It will get cut. Your bike will be gone. If you have quick-release wheels, both of them have to be locked. Same goes for your seat. Any bike shop will chain your seat to the frame for you at reasonable cost.