Polar Vortex Be Damned — New Yorkers Will Still Citi Bike

Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - 10:43 AM

Citibike commuters brave frigid temperatures as a polar vortex hits the city on January 7, 2014. Citibike commuters brave frigid temperatures as a polar vortex hits the city on January 7, 2014. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

New York's bike share program is experiencing its first winter, and even though ridership is dipping with the temperatures, Citi Bikers are riding anyway.

The golden days of early fall (40,000+ trips a day) have been replaced by New York in January. On the third of this month, the temperature dipped to 9°, and the system recorded a record low number of trips -- 1,230.

The day before, the high temperature was 33° — and the system had nearly 9,000 trips.

Tuesday morning's temperature was the lowest yet this winter, and New York woke up to single digits.

But WNYC reporter Stephen Nessen, who was documenting New Yorkers in the cold, spoke to this man:

Early morning Citi Biker (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

And Citi Bike tweeted this (note: today is the coldest January 7 in 118 years, not the coldest day ever in NYC. That record belongs to February 9, 1934, when the temperature hit -15°.):

Citi Biking this winter? Share your cold weather biking tips below!


Comments [9]

Peter Hon

I have biked every day to commute to work except for that Friday it was really snowing outside. I wear a balaclava and snowboarding goggles and snowboarding gloves. I also wear two pairs of pants. With the extra wind, you feel the exposed skin really quickly. I only go 4 miles a day but it really helps. I know it looks weird wearing goggles but it sure keeps me warm!

Jan. 08 2014 02:32 PM

Even if Citi Bike crew members moving a bike counts as a "trip," how big could those numbers be. There were 6,669 trips yesterday, the coldest Jan 7 118 years. If 10% of those trips are just crews moving a bike, that's still over 6,000 trips taken on a day when the temperature barely rose above 7 degrees. Heck, even if 50% of all trips were just crew moves that would still be over 3,300 trips taken by intrepid New Yorkers who believe that getting around by bike is safe, cheap, and practical.

Jan. 08 2014 01:50 PM
Jon from Hell's Kitchen

I've been riding in and haven't had any problems. On Friday the snow was still fairly thick on the ground but plows had been going through regularly, so it was mostly just packed powder with occasional drifts. Kinda fun if you play it safe. On Tuesday I had no issues, though I did wish I'd picked up a balaclava when I last went shopping for bike gear. This morning I noticed that the entire stretch of 48th St between Broadway and 7th was covered in a sheet of ice that looked like it had been sprayed on (all the other streets were dry); I didn't want to hang a left on that surface so I continued another couple of blocks until I could safely turn.

Jan. 08 2014 12:53 PM
Skeptic from NYC

Every time a citibike is moved by their crew, it counts as a "trip". Thus these so-called usage numbers are *always* inflated.

Why don't they tweet about something useful, like how much money they lose every day?

Jan. 08 2014 10:54 AM
Eddie from Lower Manhattan

I was riding my own bike west on Houston Street on the LES today, taking the right car lane since there was ice in the bike lane. I heard a car honking at me, and when it passed, I saw it was a Citi Bike van! They need to teach their employees to respect all cyclists, not just those on CB's.

The Citi Bike statistics are very misleading, because each time a worker takes a bike out of a dock, it's counted as a "trip."

Jan. 08 2014 10:49 AM

Running two errands yesterday I found that riding a bike was preferable to walking. First, anything to reduce the time outdoors exposed to the cold temps. and especially wind helps to stay warm. And of course there is the beneficial effect of biking briskly to generate more body heat. Also, drivers and pedestrians were so amazed to see someone biking that they were more accommodating than usual. Luckily ice was not a problem due to the warm weather and rain the day before.

Jan. 08 2014 09:18 AM
Mikey from Stat Nye'lin

I love biking in frigid temps but my main worry is ice. After a bad spill on ice in sub-zero temps a few years ago (and another one this summer going downhill where I tore my rotator cuff that had nothing to do with ice--still healing), I wussed out and didn't want to risk it. Otherwise, I am jealous.

Jan. 08 2014 03:03 AM
Joel P. from Brooklyn, NY

I rode a Citibike in today from Brooklyn (Schermerhorn & Bond) to Manhattan (47th & 2nd). The first minute was no fun but once I started generating heat I was fine. I paused for a 4º (according to Yahoo weather app) selfie at the top of the Manhattan Bridge and arrived with chunks of ice in my beard from my breath freezing. It was great!

For winter cycling the key is warm fingers, warm toes, warm ears. I was perfectly comfortable until about 23rd street when my toes started getting cold, but it never got bad enough to be a concern. I wore good windproof winter cycling gloves, many layers of thermal tops & fleece, and a hooded cycling jersey and a cycling skullcap under a helmet to keep my neck, ears and head warm. I actually was overdressed and had to unzip my jacket. I would have taken off a layer or two but my wife would have killed me if she found out, so I arrived at work hot and sweaty today! :-)

Jan. 07 2014 05:05 PM
Robert Wright from SoHo, NYC

I rode on my own bike this morning from Carroll Gardens to SoHo (right next to the WNYC offices, in fact). It was OK. The main problem was that my bike's gears didn't care for the temperature. Also, my water bottle was frozen solid when I arrived. I worry about ice on the streets. There wasn't much of that.

Jan. 07 2014 11:40 AM

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