Should I renew my Mobi (bike sharing) membership?

Mobi, the Vancouver bike sharing organization, has held a spring sale for a while, ending on June 21, appropriately the end of spring.

The sale is up to $40 off their 365 day passes. That is $99* instead of $129 for their 365 Day Pass Standard (23% off) and $119 instead of $159 for their 365 Day Pass Plus (25%). I would be renewing my Standard membership which gives me unlimited 30-minute rides.

I would be renewing without batting an eye if the sale continued into July and I could apply my work’s fitness reimbursement to it. Seriously, though, $99 for a year when I had saved over $150 with a moderate number (~80) of rides in the year is good enough reason.**

Besides the obvious health and monetary reasons, here are the emotional reasons for continuing with Mobi and thus having the option to cycle home after work:

  • The crowds of people off at 5 p.m. packing into trains create in me a low level of stress that I will get on to the next train and stand in a position that is not too difficult to disembark a short two stops later. It is a rare day that we’re not packed in like sardines and I mildly hate humanity for several minutes. And knowing that I always have an alternative, I get irritated to have to travel with the rubes who live far enough they don’t have a choice but to take a train. Having such negative feelings is not good for me and not necessary!
  • After that usually annoying four-minute train ride, I still have to walk some five city blocks (800 – 850m) for nearly 10 minutes . That train ticket was so not worth it.
  • That unconscious but definite feeling of calm and empowerment that comes to me during the ride (and beyond), hand-in-hand with not spending more and unnecessary time staring at my phone.

As of this writing (15 June) here are my riding stats:

  • 76 trips
  • Saved $151.80 in transit fare (paid $136.80 for the membership)
  • Commuted 218 km (over one Ironman cycling distance, 180 km – nearly the distance between Vancouver and Seattle, 227 km, which is covered in one Ride to Conquer Cancer weekend by those warriors)

I wrote last about Mobi when I was getting my bearings, with early lessons. There are more observations, lessons and strategies gained from the balance of the year.

1. It’s not hard to tote to work a helmet. I can hang it off my tote bag straps and carve out more space for myself on the train. The burden is lightened, you could say, by the cachet I believe I have that I bike to work.

2. I received a fob to use at the bike instead of punching in the seven-digit code I was provided. I don’t use the fob and all it does is add colour to my keychain. If the screens were visibly gross and using the fob meant not touching it at all, I would use it. But after saving myself of entering seven digits, I still have to enter by hand my four-digit PIN number. And then have to toss my keys into a knapsack that is already strapped on? I use up some of my long-term memory to remember those seven digits and enter them each time.

3. That gross as *ss station at Granville & Georgia didn’t get any better. The bulk of my rides originated from that station and I suffered almost terror of what bike I will get and it was only when I resumed cycling after winter hiatus that I learned to explore the option of picking up a bike at Granville & Robson, just a block further. I can avoid the outdoors with an interesting walk on concourse level through the new extension of the mall. It adds time to my commute and the one-block street stretch between Robson and Georgia is hairy for a nervous rider like me. GranvilleĀ  Street is enriched for buses, bus stops and impatient taxis. To stay safe, I often end up walking the bike the full block to Georgia where I would have started cycling if I picked up a sh*tty bike just outside my work.

4. That hairpin turn. What hairpin turn? The one where first I’m heading eastbound on the narrow two-way cyclist lane on Dunsmuir Viaduct, then make a hairpin turn and head westbound on Union Street which also has two-way cyclist traffic. Where I’m making a tight turn, Main Street, it is a big street. I think traffic signals are offset given Dunsmuir and Union are such closely spaced parallel streets, but I’m not sure.

There are so many things that could or have happened to make that hairpin turn the bane of my existence and if I searched for a different route, I’m adding time to my commute home.

  • Faster cyclists are overtaking me on the Dunsmuir ramp and when I slow to make a left hand turn, I’m afraid I’m annoying the heck out of them and best and accidentally cutting one off and crashing at worse.
  • On the short stretch of sidewalk on Main before making the second turn, I’m afraid of hitting a pedestrian on the sidewalk, veering into car traffic to not hit a pedestrian on the sidewalk, or getting yelled at by a pedestrian for riding on a sidewalk. I have fallen off my bike out of anxiety and the pressure of scrutiny.
  • One time, I rode on the street on the short stretch of Main and traffic was stopped but a pedestrian (I think) felt the need to comment I was going the wrong way. Thanks.
  • Because of the offset traffic signals, I’m likely to turn left off Dunsmuir at the wrong time and get in the way of someone coming onto the on-ramp or – more likely – cut off cyclists on Union in my eagerness to complete the hairpin turn!

5. Besides the fact I took an expected hiatus during the cold and wet winter, I switched from using a backpack to a really structured and bulky tote bag. Then, as blogged, I bought a “convertible” tote bag that is slimmer in profile. While some people might wear a crossbody bag while cycling, I can’t wear my tote bag crossbody because it’s too heavy often because I have a laptop. Someone suggested that I plop my bag in the bike’s basket and I tried it once on a day it was really heavy and it was not safe for me how I couldn’t steer the bike and I bailed on that trip. My hack is to store one of those drawstring swag bags (mine is from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon organization) in the front pocket of my tote bag and throw my tote bag into it to wear it on my back. It’s a perfect fit. The drawstring knapsack is not that comfortable and hangs longer on me than I’d like but the weight is better distributed at the center of the bike.


* $99 is also the introductory offer Mobi had for early adopters. I was not one of them.

** I can hopefully apply the $5 credit towards my membership renewal at sale price. I won the credit at a Mobi tent where you spin the wheel for a prize and such.

On this day..