The Weather Outside is Frightful*, But the Bike Share Deals are Delightful

Monday, November 18, 2013 - 03:24 PM

A Capital Bikeshare station in the snow (thisisbossi/flickr)

New York's bike share system is closing in on 100,000 annual members -- but the dark, cold winter months are closing in. So to keep bikers biking, the system is offering some enticements.

From discounted meals (dock and dine!) to Zip Car membership discounts to Groupon, Citi Bike is furiously working to pack on riders, much like a grizzly bear adds body weight before the winter hibernation.  (Not to mention: Mayor Bloomberg leaves office in a month and a half.)

It worked in D.C.: when Capital Bikeshare offered a Living Social discount two years ago, its membership doubled.

*Exaggeration. As of this writing, it's 12 degrees above the average NYC high temperature, leading Citi Bike to tweet the following:


Comments [3]

iSkyscraper from New York

It will be interesting to see what winter brings. I would suggest that Citibike is different than other systems due to overwhelming demand and that the disappearance of tourists and warm-weather users will provide incentive enough.

In other year-round Bixi cities, like Toronto, the system is not under heavy load - there are generally enough bikes at any time of the year, so the only thing that changes in winter is the tougher weather.

But in New York, Citibike has been crushed by its own success. Try finding an available bike at Columbus Circle, or an empty dock near a midtown office building, during peak times in the summer or early fall. There are many members like me who gave up on using the system in the summer (other than rainy days) because we don't travel early enough or late enough.

But October and November have been wonderful -- always a few bikes remaining or a few docks still empty. You can plan on using Citibike and then actually do so - wonderful. This is very different than what happens in other cities.

The real risk for Citibike's membership numbers will continue to be the outrageous failure rate of the docks - somewhere between 5% and 10% as far as I can tell (2 or 3 red lights/pieces of tape at most stations, minimum). Not really an issue in cities with less-used systems - just pick another bike - but when every NYC station is already empty or full seeing those unusable bikes and docks is infuriating. Citibike has got to get their house in order if they are going to manage their giant membership numbers, winter or not.

Nov. 19 2013 05:39 PM

I thought that photo looked wrong. It's a photo of SmartBike. I don't think DC has had a blizzard like that since CaBi launched.

Nov. 19 2013 02:41 PM
Scott Forman from Brooklyn

The photo is not actually of Capital's of one of the stations in an experimental (much smaller, less successful) bike sharing program DC had in the late 00's. Capital Bikeshare bike stations look a lot like Citibike stations - same docking technology, same bicycles.

Nov. 19 2013 08:16 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.