You can color outside the lines and think outside the box, but you must not park outside the system. That’s going to cost you. I learned that the hard way while combining my bike love with some Black Friday shopping antics. Planning the whole day, I figured I’d take the light rail, Max, into the city and then pick up a BikeTownPDX bike and pedal about shopping at my favorite local places. I purposely left my bike home to see how I liked grabbing a bike and going as needed. Since I had such a great experience with the SoBi system in Phoenix and as a founding BikeTown member I get 90 minutes of free time riding anyway, so what’s stopping me other that the fact that I own several bikes. Minor point. Get out there and ride any bike!
Let me give you a bit of background. First, I live across the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington. Portland, Oregon, the home of the Trailblazers, Nike and the BikeTown bike share system is about 15 minutes from my door. I drove the car to a park and ride in Portland and hopped on Max, the light rail system,
My original plan was to get off when I saw a BikeTown kiosk, but I didn’t see any along Interstate so I enjoyed the passing scenery and crossed the Steel Bridge and picked up my first bike at Oak Street. The only reason I throw in this information is to say that I got on the Social Bike train for five rides and overall I covered 8 miles total.
I used the little basket in the front and I had no problems with the RFID information and locking or unlocking any of the bikes. Only one bike has a seat issue which was a problem with the lever of the seat post. Otherwise it was a blast. That’s when I got cocky. I can recall the moment when I started to think I could just ride back to the Max train. Heck, I saw a bike locked up to non-BikeTown racks. That’s what I’ll do, I thought gleefully! I know there’s a bike parking staple at the Park and Ride. I saw it.
What an epically stunning day for a ride. The temps were above 50 degrees and the sun was out here and there. I was riding high and mighty my friends. The endorphins of biking mixed with shopping were heady.
The golden carpet of leaves and the cool air on my face, I felt unstoppable on the heavy bikes. The man on the sidewalk asked me if the bikes were electric. They are not electric. I felt like my bum had cement in it, but I didn’t care. A spectacular day!
Until I got the message from BikeTown that I’d done something very bad. “Your account has been charged $20” very bad. What did I do? I felt like I was seeing my report card and I got a big fat red F in the corner of my spelling paper.
The last bike I had I rode out to the Park and Ride. It was 3.86 miles and it took 26:31 minutes.
My bike is the black dot of doom way up at the top and all the rest of the dots are in the perimeter. A 1,000 bikes and 100 stations, and I can’t seem to follow the rules. The email read, “Your bike has been locked outside the system area” and there’s a fee of $20. I got a parking ticket. I was shocked. But, but, but! Can I see a judge?
I was overwhelmed with disappointment in myself. How did I miss this? I do recall wondering why people were staring at me. Did they think I was stealing the bike and heading across the river to start a bike share in Vancouver? I wish! It does explain why there are nearly no bikes outside the “system area” because $20 is nothing to scoff at!
Last night I had trouble sleeping. I didn’t want the BikeTown people to think bad thoughts about me. Good bike relationships are important. I got swept up in the day. I mean look at that view?
This morning I was still troubled by my behavior. I checked the map and the bike was still there, like a dark cloud over the whole experience. I thought of riding my Kona to the Expo stop and parking it then taking the Max train to where I parked the bike and riding “back into the system” and righting my wrong.
It took a few hours. but I got it done.
There are many problems in the world I can’t solve, but this I can solve. I feel better knowing that someone on the BikeTown side won’t be cursing the biker who took the bike so far out of the system it might as well has been in another state.
Don’t be like me. Stay in the system, follow the path and you will be richer for it by 20 bucks. I’m not sure if Robert Frost ever had a similar problem with the road less travelled and maybe it was because it was “outside the system” area.
All in all it was worth it. I like to think the bike had some fun too. At the kiosk it’ll tell the other bikes about the woman who practically rode it to Vancouver. I have a very active imagination.
Thank you for reading and following my blog. I appreciate it and I’m grateful for your likes and follows. Be safe out there!