More Than Half of Citi Bike's Early Members Did Not Renew

Citi Bike doesn’t publish numbers on how many people are renewing their memberships. While the system does release monthly reports on how many people sign up or renew, it doesn’t break out renewals as its own figure.

We know that at the end of May, the system had 105,355 active annual members. Those are people who have paid $95 for a year’s worth of riding, and have activated their little blue key. At the end of June, the system had 96,318 members.  Does that mean almost 10,000 people didn’t renew at the end of that month? Unclear.  

But a WNYC analysis of Citi Bike data suggests that about 22,000 people renewed during May and June of 2014. At the end of last June, the system had 52,125 members. Which indicates almost 30,000 of the system’s first users have chosen not to renew so far.  

(The way we arrived at those numbers is explained below. Warning: math ahead.)

A Citi Bike spokesperson did not dispute those numbers. There is no shortage of reasons why early adopters might hold off on renewing their membership: broken docks, full docks, empty docks, cracked bike seats, and the lack of Citi Bike availability in many neighborhoods. The system currently has no stations above 60th street in Manhattan, none in much of Brooklyn, and none in Queens or the Bronx. 

Or maybe members are all waiting to see if the takeover of the system, reportedly imminent, resolves the hardware, software, and geographic problems. They just might have to pay more for a membership if they choose to renew later – the price could rise from $95 up to $155, according to sources close to the negotiations.

How we did the math:

In the system’s monthly operating reports, we can find how many “annual members sign up or renew” in any given month. For June of 2014, that was 18,364. And in Citi Bike's spreadsheets of system data, we find a day-by-day count of “annual member signups.” For June of 2014, that count is 4,573.

It’s reasonable to think that the number of members signing up or renewing, minus the number of members signing up, would yield the number of members renewing. Or, expressed as a formula:

(signup + renewal) – (signup) = renewal

For June of 2014, that looks like:

(18,364) – (4,573) = 13,791

For May of 2014, that looks like:

(13,303) – (4,958) = 8,345

Adding up the May 2014 and June 2014 renewals, we get 22,136 renewals.

We subtracted that from the total number of members in June 2013: 52,125. Those 52,125 members are the ones whose memberships expired in June of 2014, a year later.

So, then:

(Members at the end of June 2013) – (renewals at the end of June 2014) = members who did not renew

Or,

(52,125) – (22,136) = 29,989

We asked Citi Bike if our logic made sense, and if our numbers were accurate. A spokesperson did not dispute the figures.