Streams

Saving Citi Bike

Monday, August 04, 2014

Citibikes parked in front of The Apple Store in midtown Manhattan. (Natalie Fertig/WNYC)

Final talks are underway on a deal to expand NYC's bikeshare program, Citi Bike, to new neighborhoods and to a new, higher membership fee. Kate Hinds, WNYC transportation reporter, shares the details.

Guests:

Kate Hinds

Comments [35]

City Walker really betrays his bias with his comments, which are all vitriolic sophistry and rhetoric... not argument. These include disparaging comments about the "lycra brigade" and implications about foolish (not sensible people). The rhetoric further includes the terms "minions;" a needless jab at Sadik-Khan as a dictator; and gross misstatements about the enrollment rates.

Is that really what passes for intellectual discussion on WNYC boards?

The story itself reported a reduction from 105,000 down to 96,000. That's a 10% reduction in total membership. While less than half of early adopters may have renewed, there are surely many reasons for that. For instance, false hopes and relocations... not necessarily bad experiences.

$100/ yr is a good deal for many. That's just over $0.27 per day. $150 still is. That's about $0.40 per day. If you get 200 uses out of your annual membership, it's well under the cost of a subway or cab fare.

Aug. 14 2014 10:30 AM
City Walker from manhattan

Except for the Lycra Brigade at Transportation Alternatives and their minions in the media, most sensible people knew last year this CitiBank scheme of Bloomberg and Sadiktator-Khan was doomed for failure.

Only 1% ever joined, 30,000 of them have refused to renew, the infrastructure is a mess, and it is approaching bankruptcy.

Go over to streetsblog and notice how the Lycra Brigade over there are deafeningly silent on the failure of the program they championed just one year ago.

Schadenfreude is good.

Aug. 06 2014 01:21 PM
Guest from NYC

I renewed my subscription.

I live outside the coverage area but use it frequently to move around Midtown without having to depend on buses, the subways, and cabs. It's both the fastest and cheapest mode by far.

I just wish they had it in my area. I live a 15 minute walk from the nearest subway station. It would cut that time in less than half.

The few people that moan about Citi Bike at this point are the same people that complain about everything else.

I don't understand, why wouldn't you want an additional option? Mind boggling.

Let's make this work.

Aug. 05 2014 08:17 PM
Dberg

The fact that there are no hikes North of 59th street on the UES or its defeats the purpose of it being used as a commuting vehicles meanwhile Brooklyn and wall Street has bikes. How difficult is it really to get bikes up town?

Ow the price almost double. Europe is less than $50 a year make it affordable.

Aug. 05 2014 05:39 PM
Clarke

To Tal from Pleasantville who wrote, "However, Citi Bike isn't public, it's out of private interests hence the name," I do hope you note that the subway was also originally built "out of private interests."

Aug. 05 2014 04:14 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

As usual, the anti-car fanatics gang up on me and get it wrong as always. The only thing that is subsidized when it comes to driving is the highways and other roads that are used, not anything else. I don't get subsidies for the vehicle itself nor any of the services. The only reason why there are subsidies given to the road system is because it actually serves the public just like public transportation does. However, Citi Bike isn't public, it's out of private interests hence the name. The only reason why Citibank chose to be involved is because they felt that they could make a profit from this otherwise they wouldn't have been involved at all. Again, Bloomberg promised no taxpayer dollars would be used to help this, so this promise should be kept rather than broken. Overall, if Citibank can't find the money to even keep it afloat, then it just can't succeed with it.

Aug. 05 2014 03:32 PM
Bill from Lower Manhattan

Citi Bike is a for-profit bike rental business. It is no more public transportation than are taxis, car services, horse-drawn carriages, pedicabs, or any other bike rental companies.

I sometimes walk to work, and sometimes ride my bike. If taxpayers subsidize Citi Bike, then I think I also deserve a subsidy to buy new tires, brake pads, and walking shoes.

I keep reading that the program needs money in order to expand north of 59th Street and to the other boroughs. But I spoke to a Citi Bike employee recently and he told me that there's barely money for payroll. So let's be clear, does Citi Bike need an infusion of cash in order to expand, or merely to survive?

Aug. 05 2014 12:37 PM
Tyson White

Tal from Peasantville,

If our highways and roads (which drivers pay less than half the cost) can't survive, then it just can't. Why should the taxpayers be forced to place it on life support? Many other failing private businesses aren't given this, so I don't see why this one is any special. For the record, I'm not calling for roads to be shut down, just not allow for it to use any taxpayer dollars at all. If you guys believe in it so much, then let drivers pay road fees to keep it afloat. Better yet, get Andrew Cuomo himself to provide the funding or even known car zealots such as Tal Barzilai since they support so much. Start walking the walk rather than talking the talk.

TJ

Aug. 05 2014 11:19 AM
Adrian from Park Slope

So Tal, presumably we should allow the road system to collapse and fail as well, as drivers don't fully pay for that right? So you want cars to be subsidized, but not bikes? In a city with excellent transit options, why should we subsidize the least economical, most polluting option, but not others?

Aug. 05 2014 10:29 AM

Tal Barzilai: then the same should be said of every form of transit. Buses and subways cost more than they generate in fares. The MTA is always running on a deficit.

Apply your principle broadly and you'll find most public goods are in the red.

Aug. 05 2014 07:49 AM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

If Citi Bike can't survive, then it just can't. Why should the taxpayers be forced to place it on life support? Many other failing private businesses aren't given this, so I don't see why this one is any special. For the record, I'm not calling for this program to die, just not allow for it to use any taxpayer dollars at all. If you guys believe in it so much, then make donations to keep it afloat. Better yet, get Mike Bloomberg himself to provide the funding or even known bike zealots such as Mark Gorton or Paul Steely White since they support so much. Start walking the walk rather than talking the talk.

Aug. 04 2014 10:03 PM
suzinne from bronx

Think it was a BAD idea from the get go. Listen riding a bike in NYC is not for everyone. Traffic on these mean streets is like the Wild West. People getting killed all the time. The roads are SHOT. Why would anyone seriously ENDANGER their life by riding a bicycle in New York City? Seriously?

Think all those racks of blue bikes are UGLY. Weren't the street crowded with enough stuff ALREADY?

Hey, Bloomie thanks a lot.

Aug. 04 2014 07:32 PM
david from NYC

What sickens me is how the media fawns all over this and this station in turn does too.
Its not a "new" form of mass transit as people can't use it to get to extreme areas of the city. And guess what we pay taxes too.
No one is going to "Citi bike" from midtown to Bayside or to Fordham...just not going to happen.
Its a novelty act for the Manhattan elitists and I wish you would all realize it

Aug. 04 2014 06:35 PM
Ursula from Clinton Hill

I am now on my 2nd year of the annual membership, and I LOVE every minute of it. I do have a bike at home, but the convenience of not having to bring my bike when it might rain, when i know I'll be moving around town and lugging and re-locking my bike won't work, when I need to get across town to a better train to avoid delays, running late to a movie, to be spontaneous and go for a lunchtime bikeride, or afterwork bikeride before I get in the subway, all those things are a cinch, so easy. Best are coming back home late or on the weekends when all the subways come once an hour (it seems)and/or are rerouted.

It's difficult for me to fathom what people are complaining about (especially the ones who never even tried it). The daily passes are a pain, in my opinion, but the monthly/annual ones, with the key fob are easy. I seldom use the bike for longer than 20-30 minutes, and if i need it for longer than my allowed time, just dock and take it out again. The app makes it easy. Yes, sometimes the docks are full, or empty, sometimes there's a broken dock that won't accept returned bikes, but check the app (or the station display) for other nearby Citibike stations with available docks (or bikes). For all the convenience and freedom that the bikeshare brings, I am forgiving to the glitches (and honestly, which transportation system does not have glitches? trains get stuck in tunnes to a crawl or break down, cabs are stuck in traffic, buses always late. I will gladly pay more too, since the bikeshare brings so much value to me personally. And yes, I have my own bike too, which I use often.

Aug. 04 2014 12:27 PM
ericf

Whether or not folks actually using Citibike are complaining about time limits is an interesting question, but whether or not the time limits are preventing folks from using it is probably more germane. Are time limits factors in weak adoption and renewals?

(If you take a poll re food preferences in a Chinese restaurant you will probably find most of you subjects like Chinese food and presumably folks who choose to keep using Citibike are similarly self-selecting.)

Aug. 04 2014 11:50 AM
hicoachrich from UWS

1.We moved from Murray Hill this winter where I had bikes to the east of me and to the west of me and to the north...to UWS where I was shocked to find NO bikes except those thousands in CPark every day, all day. the UWS population is so ripe for Citibike. Commuting and pleasure...
2.I am one of those counted as not renewing only because the website gave me so much trouble trying to renew that I simply bought a new subscription instead.
3.I always thought the annual fee was too low.
4.I always thought the time periods too short.
5.Tourists have options around CPark for bikes to rent. Most are too fearful to ride outside of the park. who can blame them?
6.i see folks on Citibikes on the UWS and for the life of me cant figure out where they could re-dock and undock again as one commenter suggested. no docks exist here, so that solution is bogus unless you like riding all over he most heavily congested areas of mid-town an dlike spending time wrestling with docking stations instead of moving on with your daily activities.
7.how about a donor system, for those of us who could afford a car service if we so chose instead of a bike, to allow us to donate funds to provide subsidized rides to those who cant afford to ride otherwise?

Aug. 04 2014 11:05 AM
Gary from Park Slope

Bike-share is meant as a form of transportation not recreation. It is approximately 3-times quicker than walking and a quick bike trip is a great alternative to a long walk or an inconvenient or short trip on mass transit or in a cab. 30 or 45 minutes works for most trips within the current area of service.

Aug. 04 2014 11:04 AM
Cervantes

the whole concept needs to be reverse engineered,we need to deemphasize cars. otherwise,it's all just silly remedial patchwork.

Aug. 04 2014 11:03 AM
Cory from Flatiron

Do any actual citibike users complain about the 30/45 minute limit? I am an annual member and never have a problem with the time limit- and I haven't heard this complaint AT ALL from people who actually ride the bike. As Kate said, the bike should be seen as an extension of the transit system. They are great to use for point-to-point stops, but the bikes are honestly bulky and heavy- not ideal for a lengthy and leisurely trip around the island. You can get nearly anywhere in the time limit. This is just another example of people looking to complain about something finding a "problem" with citibike. Please, if you are not a citibike user, try the system out before complaining about supposed faults in the user system.

Aug. 04 2014 10:57 AM
Cory from Flatiron

Do any actual citibike users complain about the 30/45 minute limit? I am an annual member and never have a problem with the time limit- and I haven't heard this complaint AT ALL from people who actually ride the bike. As Kate said, the bike should be seen as an extension of the transit system. They are great to use for point-to-point stops, but the bikes are honestly bulky and heavy- not ideal for a lengthy and leisurely trip around the island. You can get nearly anywhere in the time limit. This is just another example of people looking to complain about something finding a "problem" with citibike. Please, if you are not a citibike user, try the system out before complaining about supposed faults in the user system.

Aug. 04 2014 10:55 AM
seth from East Village

Agreed that the time limit is way too short. If you have to search for a dock on a typical commute, you WILL need more time. Make it easy for riders. Make it an hour. Moreover, this would also attract tourists, who want to ride around leisurely. As for the costs going up. They already lost half their annual members. This price hike to circa $150 will cause them to lose many more. Way too steep. You can bump it up but to $100 and you'd keep folks. $119 may be the sweet spot, especially if they expand. More than that, people will be pissed off. Also, nonsense that you have to pay a lot for a bike. I bought a second hand bike that I LOVE for $125 from the original owner.

Aug. 04 2014 10:53 AM
Gary from Park Slope

Original plan was to include Upper East Side, Upper West Side and Brooklyn South of Atlantic Avenue (Cobble Hill,Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Crown Heights, etc.). Presumably that will follow filling out the planned first wave through North Brooklyn and LIC. And then expand further from there.

Aug. 04 2014 10:48 AM
Eve Jochnowitz from Greenwich Village

Riders who wish to ride longer than 30 or 45 minutes need only dock their Citibikes and undock them to start the clock again. The caller could ride all day in 30-minute increments, should he so desire.

Aug. 04 2014 10:45 AM
Mangus from Manhattan

The bikes aren't "fun" at all, they are for commuters. Most commuters can't afford high membership rates!

Aug. 04 2014 10:44 AM
Andy from manhattan

This program is supposed to be a commuter program, not a leisure program. Why it needs to serve those who are tourists or "want to enjoy time on a bike" eludes me.

Service above 59th St and in the outer boroughs is definitely needed, as is better support for those who encounter system errors while they are still being ironed out.

Aug. 04 2014 10:42 AM
ericf

Citibike racks displace parking space for other bikes. I've seen blocks with long expanses of unused citibikes all racked up while every bike rack, sign post, etc, on the block are crammed with chained bikes and other riders are wandering around looking for a place to lock up.

Bike share is a great idea but it should not compete with other forms of biking.

Aug. 04 2014 10:42 AM
Nick from UWS

That caller was right on. Why the hell would anyone rent a bike for 15 minutes? Or even 45 minutes as the guest mentioned, as if that was an improvement. If you are close enough to your destination to only need a bike for 10 minutes, you're close enough to walk and the hell with the bike. Citibike suffers from the usual stupidity of a venal money-grubbing bureaucracy, so the hell with it.

Aug. 04 2014 10:41 AM
Eve Jochnowitz from Greenwich Village

Riders who wish to ride longer than 30 or 45 minutes need only dock their Citibikes and undock them to start the clock again. The caller could ride all day in 30-minute increments, should he so desire.

Aug. 04 2014 10:41 AM
Marion delarche from Bergenfield, nj

I started using Citibike the very first day. The first 2 weeks were great, but after that I could rarely find a bike when I wanted one, and on the rare occasions I did get one, I couldn't find a place to park it at my destination. On a per-ride basis it was cheap, and would be even at $155 annually, but who wants to pay even one red cent for extra frustration on your commute?

Aug. 04 2014 10:38 AM

Citibike expansion is great news.

But shouldn’t citibike (and all biking) be subsidized even more than mass transit and automobile industry given how much better biking is for the environment and for individual health?

Not a day goes by w/o new info on how exercise deficient people are and what positive impact comes from even moderate exercise like biking around town.

And how about reforming NYC traffic by banning cars from parking on at least one side of every street, which would provide room for dedicated bike lanes, which wd encourage many more riders? And banning all overnight street parking. Think of all the useless driving around that would be saved by requiring people to garage their cars. What’s the rationale for people taking up enormous amounts of valuable public space to store their private property?

As someone in my early 70s, I’ve used citibike for over 800 trips in the past year, everything from neighborhood errands to energizing constitutionals along the riverside paths and around Central Park. I recommend it to all, heartily.

Aug. 04 2014 10:38 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Ms. Hinds is mistaken. There are loads of bicycles out there for less than $155.00. I think most of the NYers who use CitiBike do it because they have no space to put bicycles in their miniscule apartments.

Aug. 04 2014 10:36 AM
RJ from prospect hts

What about poor people who, like with the MetroCard, can't afford to plunk down $75 for Citibike or $111 for a Metrocard at one time? They're still paying $2.50 each ride for public transit. And it goes against the alleged concern for the poor's obesity crisis ... if they can't afford to rent a bike, save money on it, then we're back to favoring the better off ....

Aug. 04 2014 10:34 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Nothing to do with Citi Bike, but as a loooooongtime WNYC listener and longer NYC radio listener, especially to the non-rock music stations of bygone eras (WNCN, WRVR, and not bygone yet, but also WBAI), I want to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of the "Laughing Cavalier", who was such a unique part of the city's radio world and now its legacy.

I didn't always agree with him about politics, but I appreciated his NYC erudition, irony, wit, and attitude. He was the last man standing pushing for "cross ventilation" and a great champion of Schubert, Percy Granger, and Mistoslav Horschovski (sp?) I still quote him "If it's not one damn thing it's two damn things!"

Post, you have been missed on the air for too long already, but you will now be missed by those on the ground. WNYC has not been the same since yours stopped being its morning voice.

Aug. 04 2014 10:34 AM
D

How about when you are in "Citibike hell"? And how do you deal with a faceless agency when you are caught up in the Kafka nightmare of a bike you thought was docked and then find out the next day that the bike was basically stolen!?

Called customer service and was told the scripted line, wrote an e-mail to customer service--received a reply two days later, basically telling me until the bike is returned I am locked out of using my "Citibike key" and someone would be in touch in a week if the bike was not docked.
No one contacted me and the bike was still listed as missing a week later.

I could go on and on--but I think you can get the drift of my frustration and all out disappointment in a program that I championed and was an earlier adopter.

Now I have no idea what to do next--and basically am trapped in this bureaucratic maelstrom. Locked out of using a Citibike, no one to actually speak with and find out where my case is and can only log on and see this:
12745468 W 4 St & 7 Ave S 7/21/14 7:42:43 PM NYCBS Depot - DEL 8/1/14 3:24:59 PM 259h 42m 16s.

Why would I ever tell anyone this is a good program and join when issues like this are systemic and now I paid for a year program and am locked out of using the bikes at all.

Aug. 04 2014 10:34 AM
Ed from East Village from East Village

It's losing money and ridership. Let's expand it!!!!
Fiscal insanity.

Aug. 04 2014 10:06 AM

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