Poll: Bike Sharing Widely Popular After First Month

Whites support the program more than Blacks or Hispanics

Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 08:03 PM

Chambers Street and the Hudson River bike path, June 2013 Citi Bike riders wait to return bikes at a full docking station. (Alex Goldmark)

It's been one month since NYC launched Citi Bike, the new bike sharing program, and to mark the occasion the city issued some glowing user statistics. (See bottom of post) Meanwhile, a new poll of likely voters shows New York City's new bike sharing program is widely popular in the city.


Fifty percent of New Yorkers support the new program, with just 20 percent opposing bike share, according to The Quinnipiac University poll. "Every age, income, party, gender and educational group supports the bike program," the researchers wrote.

Voters over 65 years old are the only group that doesn't want bikes in their neighborhood, with 40 percent opposed and 37 percent in favor, according to the poll.

There was some differences by race though. More white voters have made up their mind, and more support Citi Bike: 57 percent in favor, 22 percent disapprove with just 20 percent saying they don't know enough. (Compare that to these figures: Black voters: 43 percent in favor, 18 percent against, 38 percent haven't heard enough; Hispanic voters: 47 percent approve, 17 percent disapprove, 33 percent haven't heard enough).

Bike lanes are also popular.

New York has installed over 400 miles of bike lanes since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office; some of those lanes have led to legal fights and bitter spats between neighbors and politicians. According to the survey, the bike lanes are a fact of life: 67 percent of people want to keep them, or add more lanes in their neighborhood, compared to 28 percent of people who want fewer bike lanes.

The poll also looks at who wants Citi Bike in their neighborhood. In response, most people said yes or that they didn't know enough yet. As Azi Paybarah of Capital New York summed up the findings, "bike-share program leads to widespread IMBYism."

Also out today are the first month's official user statistics. Citi Bike has not openly released user data yet as it sorts out glitches and growing pains, but the city's Department of Transportation is choosing their favorite data to publish. Here's what they sent to reporters about the first month's usage:

Number of trips (as of 5 p.m. June 26): 528,991, more than the population of Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Sacramento and hundreds of other US cities. 

Number of trips in the last seven days:200,823, roughly equivalent to the entire population of Akron, Ohio, or Des Moines, Iowa. 

Total annual, weekly and daily subscriptions purchased: 113,692, nearly the population of Berkeley, California; 50,000 annual members, equal to the population of Hoboken.  

Estimated miles traveled to date: 1.28 million, the equivalent of 50 trips around the Earth.  

Estimated number of calories burned since launch*: 50 million, the equivalent of 91,000 Big Macs or nearly 52,000 entire pints of Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream.  

Average number of rides on each of the 6,000 Citi Bikes: 88  

*assumes an average of 40 calories per mile biked

For context, check out London's membership and ride stats. Barclay's bikes launched at the end of 2010. It has a slightly different way to count members, though if you compare NYC's annual members with London's membership of 180,000, it looks like NYC is catching up quickly. London signed up 1,057 new members last month, according to the data posted online. It will be interesting to see how the new membership charts in NYC. Something to watch.


Comments [7]


This poll is so flaw. Shame on you WNYC and Streetsblog

Jul. 01 2013 02:00 AM
James Andersen from lower Manhattan

Mr. Kelliher:
"Between the idea. And the reality. Between the motion. And the act. Falls the Shadow: T. S. Eliot, The Hollow Men"

If you want to disagree with T.S. Eliot, be my guest.

However, simply saying "subtracting 50 from 72 and saying the program's popularity has plummeted is simply not true" does not prove your point at all. Contradiction is not proof.

If the numbers were reversed, you can be sure DOT would be touting how "CitiBike is doing even better than expected."

Here is what is correct:
Expectations were high.
The program was then implemented.

Immediately, a bunch of lawsuits, protests and demonstrations in opposition occurred, a community board in the Village where 400 people - 400 people - took an evening out of their lives to condemn it clearly demonstrated how UNPOPULAR this scheme is. Additionally, mounting controversy, newspaper editorials and countless TV spots where residents/businesses railed against it all PROVE that there is widespread opposition to the program where it has actually been installed.

A more accurate poll would ask those where the scheme was implemented, not those in Staten Island or Riverdale.
Anyone can answer "approval" to a poll taker. That proves little, for it takes no effort.
However, the incredible active opposition and energy expended against this scheme speaks volumes to how "popular" this program is.

Finally, in all honesty, Mr. Kelliher, in full disclosure, lest anyone think that you are a neutral statistician, shouldn't you have mentioned your extreme ideological bias on this subject, as witnessed by your numerous posts in websites committed to this program, streetsblog being just one?

Referencing my first post, I can see that you have already drunk the Kool-Aid.

Jun. 30 2013 04:57 PM
Sean Kelliher from Manhattan

The poll James Andersen refers to was conducted by Quinnipiac University in October, 2011 and asks about the "idea" of a bike share program. 72% said they supported the idea; 23% said they opposed it; and 5% didn't know or answer the question.

The current poll asks about the "actual program." 50% said they approve of it; 27% said they didn't know enough to form an opinion; and 20% were opposed. I assume 3% didn't answer the question.

Comparing data from these two polls is not productive because one asks about an "idea," which is fairly easy to form an opinion on, while the other asks about an actual program, which requires actual knowledge of the program.

Citibike has been around only about a month and in limited areas so it's natural that a large group has yet to experience it and form an opinion. Where the 27% of undecideds will stand once they are able to form an opinion is anyone's guess. But subtracting 50 from 72 and saying the program's popularity has plummeted is simply not true.

Also, WNYC has covered the glitches in Citbike's software and also did a follow up story a little later on showing that the problems had decreased.

Jun. 30 2013 12:29 AM
James Andersen from lower Manhattan

Chris McNally: I appreciate your clarification of "widely".

However, how popular is something whose support drops 35%?

The headline really should have read, "CitiBike Popularity Plummets", which is news, not that standard statistical demographics were followed. That is not news.

Furthermore, how popular is something when the people interviewed are not part of the targeted demographic and not part of it? The poll is flawed ipso facto. That's like asking Americans how they feel Putin is handling the Russian economy, and extrapolating that to claims that it represents the Russian people's viewpoint.

Do you think the car-loving residents of the outer boroughs will love the scheme when it is in front of their doors? Of course not, especially, when the residents of lower Manhattan and NW Bklyn - who have fewer cars - are up in arms about it.

As for Arnold from EV: your complete dodging the fact that support dropped
from 72% to 50% is not surprising from someone who engages in ad hominems and who admits " there isn't much point in furthering discussion", when you discussed nothing, merely threw out ambiguous statistics.

Jun. 29 2013 08:29 PM
Chris McNally from Crown Heights Brooklyn

James, I think you are misreading the headline. Wide is a good description of the data. What it means is that looking at demographics such as Republican or Democrat, men, women, ages, nationalities or so called races, bike share is popular. What does it does not mean that it is outrageously popular, aka "a craze".

"Every age, income, party, gender and educational group supports the bike program," the researchers wrote."

Hence "wide".

Jun. 29 2013 02:27 PM
Arnold from East Village

To a couple of James Anderson's points:

-50% overall approval doesn't mean 50% disapproval. As the graph clearly indicates, just 20% disapprove of the program, and almost 30% don't know enough. So in reality, Citi Bike is favored 2.5 to 1.

-NYC's population is 8.245mm, making 1% of it 82,450. 113,692 overall subscriptions have been purchased. We don't know how many unique people that actually means, and granted that could be people from anywhere, but if anything they're most likely residents near the bike stations, so we should be comparing that 113k to just the 2.3mm Brooklyn and 1.6mm Manhattan residents for now.

The rest of his comment is too emotional and devoid of facts to address, and since he's clearly so angry about the whole Citi Bike program there isn't much point in furthering discussion.

Jun. 29 2013 11:18 AM
James Andersen from Lower Manhattan

WIDELY popular? Are you drinking DOT's Kool-Aid.

50%, taken city-wide, in neighborhoods where there are no bike stations, shows popularity?!? If anything, it shows a deep split.

The real news is that DOT for the past year tauted pre-launch polls showing 72% approval. Now it has drastically slipped to 50%

A more honest headline would be "CitiBike popularity PLUNGES by 35%

And wait till the program goes into car-friendly outer boroughs. The DOT numbers will implode. People think this is a good idea only when it is not in THEIR neighborhood.

That is why there are so many lawsuits and protests in areas where CitiBank bike rentals have already been installed.

And instead of reporting how many miles traveled, hows about reporting how many glitches and how few of the actual city's population has ridden = less than 1%

It is sad that WNYC is so biased in its reporting basic statistics and facts.

Jun. 29 2013 10:16 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.