Streams

Survey: 64% of Citibike Users Unhappy About Full or Empty Docks

Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 01:21 PM

WNYC

A survey of nearly 2300 Citi Bike users by the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives finds that about two thirds  -- 64 percent -- say their biggest complaint with the system is that docks are either completely full or completely empty. But 91 percent like the bike share system and want to see it expanded.

Transportation Nation has reported on the problem of rebalancing (cool graphics!) -- or moving bikes around to accommodate user need. Empty docks are particularly acute in the morning rush near commuter hubs, like Penn Station, or areas where many residents live but don't work, like the Lower East Side.

In the evening, the problem reverses itself. Near the WNYC studios, for example, the docks on MacDougal & Spring Streets are almost always empty at that time. 

But this is the first time that the level of complaint has been quantified. "Rebalancing is a serious logistic problem everywhere," said Transportation Alternatives' Caroline Sampanaro. "It's the biggest problem with bike share everywhere." 

Sampanaro said the group is doing a new survey to find out, among other things if frustrations are dissuading users altogether. 

Related: Bike Share Behind the Scenes: "Rebalancers" Keep D.C. Bike Docks Stocked

Dani Simon of NYC Bike Share said Citi Bike is still "working to replace bikes lost during Sandy," which, she said, would alleviate some of the problems with empty docks.  She said that was about 1000 bikes.  

Sampanaro said she was "surprised" that broken docks disappeared so rapidly as a problem. When the system began, as Transportation Nation reported in June, some ten percent of docks were completely broken.But Citi Bike was able to install a plug-in that fixed the system, and, as the survey noted, complaints of broken docks -- rampant in the first weeks of Citi Bike on social media -- dropped sharply. 

Despite the problems with rebalancing, Citi Bike remains wildly popular among users, with 91% saying it should be expanded. Users seem to want it expanded everywhere: north of 59th Street, the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, Park Slope, Gowanus and Harlem are among the neighborhoods cited. 

In other survey responses, 84 percent said they felt safest in physically segregated bike lanes. About half said, in answer to "which traffic violation should be better enforced," that  the NYPD should ticket drivers parked in bike lanes. 

The survey of 2286 users was taken on line and in person from September 19 - October 16.

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Comments [12]

Bronxite from NYC

Bicycles are not motor vehicles (at least those without motors) and the laws should be dictated differently towards this mode. Bicycles should only be required to yield at red lights and stop signs. It makes no sense to sit and wait. The danger is minimal, notice the millions of Citi Bike rides without fatalities. Bicycles have different movement characteristics versus automobiles. They can stop much more rapidly and have significantly greater visibility and maneuverability.

That being said, enforcement should focus on salmon (wrong way riders) due to decreased reaction times, sidewalk riders (which is way less common then stated online, you cannot get to a reasonable speed on sidewalks due to obstacles (e.g. PEDs), and a lack of lighting at night.

Helmets shouldn't be required because it reduces usage. A lot of people use Cities Bike for example at random to run errands.

EVERY BICYCLISTS IS ONE MORE CAR OFF THE STREET, OR ANOTHER SEAT/STANDING ROOM ON A BUS OR SUBWAY TRAIN.

Dec. 13 2013 02:27 AM
iSkyscraper from New York

It's a massive problem. New York turned out to be a perfect bike commuter town, much more than perhaps expected, and the insatiable demand is crushing the usability of the system.

Rebalancing is pointless in New York given the traffic. What difference does it make to have two guys sit in traffic for hours to move 30 bikes? This isn't Minneapolis.

It would be much better to have those two guys fixing docks, which still appear to fail at 5% to 10% by my experience. Keep the docks fixed, the rest will be resolved through the addition of more bikes and more stations.

Nov. 19 2013 05:49 PM
Shelli from Greenwich Village

The biggest bike share program problem are the cyclists. Most do not obey the city's biking laws. Not a day or even hour goes by without seeing a cyclist riding through a red light, not stopping at a stop sign, riding on the sidewalk, or riding against traffic. Laws need to be enforced, and cyclists need to respect the laws.

Oct. 26 2013 09:44 AM
Adam

I heard this story on the radio on the other day and could swear that the bike share representative said they were "rapidly" working to replace bikes destroyed during hurricane Sandy.

This article does not use that term but I urge you to "go to the tape". If the person in fact claimed to "rapidly" be replacing 1000 bicycles for a WHOLE YEAR it really seems that as a reputable journalist that claim deserves a follow up.

I'm not exactly sure what the annual production of bicycles around the world looks like, but somehow it seems to me like fitting in 1000 bikes in a years time is not a very challenging feat...

Oct. 21 2013 10:03 AM
Leon from E 30 st nyc

No question about it: lanes and traffic rules should be clearly painted and/or signs should be erected for cyclists. the NYPD should enforce traffic laws. Citibikes is a great concept, but needs to increase safety for both cyclists and pedestrians. Leon

Oct. 20 2013 11:30 AM
Marty from 10001

I have been persuaded through observation that the CitiBike pprogram is a good one...obviously in need of refining which is fair enough. Where I take exception is the almost universal lack of respect ALL bikers have for the laws of the City and for pedestrians and other vehicles sharing the road. Here are my observations:
1. POLICE DO NOT ENFORCE THE TRFFIC LAWS AND BIKERS DO NOT OBSERVE THEM.
2. BIKES RUN RED LIGHTS ALL THE TIME
3. BIKER RUN STOP SIGNS ALL THE TIME
4. BIKERS DO NOT YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS
5. BIKERS DO NOT YIELD TO CARS THAT HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY
6. MOST BIKERS FAIL TO WEAR PROTECTIVE HELMETS (AND POLICE DO NOT ENFORCE THE LAW
7. ALMOST ALL CITIBIKE BIKERS DO NOT WEAR HELMEYS AND THE CITIBANK IS COMPLICIT WITH THEM BREAKING THE LAWS
8. HELMETS ARE SUPPOSEDLY MANDATORY FOR ALL BIKERS AND THE POLICE DO BOT ENFORCE THE LAW
9. ONE DAY, THERE WILL BE A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINTS CITIBIKE FOR NOT ENFORCING THE HELMET LAW OR REQUIRING CITIBIKE BIKERS TO WEAR HELMETS
10. BIKERS USE BICYCLE LANES IN BOTH DIRECTIONS THIS BREAKING THE ONE WAY LANE LAW...AND THE POLICE DO NOTHING
11. MESSENGER BIKERS ARE NOTORIOUS FOR RUNNING LIGHTS,GOING THE WRONG WAY ON ONE WAY STREETS AND AVENUES, AND RIDING ON SIDEWALKS. THEY SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO CARRY INSURANCE.
12. I HAVE WITNESSED ELDERLY PEOPLE BEING KNOWCKED DOWN BY BIKERS WHO RUN LIGHTS OR ARE RIDING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.
13. CITIBIKES ARE NOT REFLECTIVE ENOUGH AND ARE HARD TO SEE AT NIGHT
14. CERTAIN BIKE RACK LOCATIONS ARE CLEARLY WRONGLU SITUATED AND SHOULD BE CHANGED

Oct. 18 2013 04:16 PM
TerryO from New York

Traffic violations that should be enforced: Bikers riding against traffic (e.g. wrong way on a one-way street). Bikers not stopping for traffic lights and stop signs. Bikers speeding. I live and work near two bike lanes (Prince Street and Bleecker Street. The biggest hazard crossing those streets (along with Houston) are the bicyclers.

Oct. 18 2013 01:48 PM
clea on UWS from UWS

We don't have citi bikes on the UWS yet. I have had my own bike for years, and rode to work in the 1980's when it was not fashionable to do so. So I have ridden when there were no bike lanes. Riding in the streets is incredibly dangerous, all the time. I have been hit on more than one occasion and I am a safe rider, going slow, using a helmet! We need more dedicated bike lanes; more bike rules (lights, bells, etc) and traffic and pedestrian enforcement by a lazy police force who do nothing to manage the transportation mess. Inevitably someone is going to be killed or maimed riding a Citi Bike and will bring this problem very acutely into focus.

The local community board has just passed a resolution to proceed with a proposed dedicated Amsterdam Ave bike lane. It will be heavily used if implemented because it will actually go somwhere, vs. the Col. Ave. bike path.

Oct. 18 2013 12:15 PM
Patrice from Manhattan

With thousands of new Citibike (and other) riders here, there needs to be more than docks, there needs to be etiquette. Ride as close to curbside as possible unless you're passing. Please verbally tell a biker in front of you when you're passing on either side. This prevents accidents. Don't text and bike. (Aargh!) Be as courteous as possible with pedestrians and motorists both: Expanding bike lanes and accessibility is about PR as well as logistics. Above all, wear a helmet, and scan the street when you ride. Every stopped vehicle you pass has a door that can open without warning. I've biked accident-free in NYC for almost 30 years but have seen more injured bikers in the past year than ever before. Please be careful y'all!

Oct. 18 2013 09:51 AM
Alan from Manhattan

I love bike sharing
But . . . my station is empty!
Where are all the bikes?

Oct. 18 2013 07:50 AM
Aly from Brooklyn

I'm really happy to see more bikes on the street- a sign of a healthy and safer city. I drive to work more often than not in an opposite commute which makes me have heightened awareness and respect for bikers and pedestrians (yes I actually wait for them and offer them right of way). However, in answer to "which traffic violation should be better enforced," I feel the NYPD should ticket bike riders for infractions like passing red lights and ignoring stop signs- bikers seem to feel above that sort of thing just like walkers like to use cell phones while crossing the street and walk into the street past the curb into traffic without even bothering to look. If the road is too narrow for bikes and cars like on Atlantic Avenue I always wait behind or pass to the next lane like they do in Italy but riders seem oblivious and continue to ride without moving aside like they should at the first opportunity. If these basic rules of the road were observed we'd have a lot safer streets.

Oct. 18 2013 07:47 AM

My first and last experience with Citi Bike was horrible. However, that experience prompted me to buy my very own bike, which has been one of my best NYC experiences – biking in this amazing city. I ride to work several times a week, and I’m fortunate to be able to cross over the Brooklyn Bridge, which has remarkable views of Manhattan, but then I get the views of Brooklyn when I’m returning home after a long day of work. Oh, and dodging all those tourist that seem to be under some spell while they aimlessly take their digital camera and point in every direction, makes my commute very interesting.

Oct. 17 2013 04:41 PM

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