Streams

We're Citibiking to Work, Not Play

Monday, March 31, 2014 - 05:00 PM

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

New Yorkers are using Citi Bike as a key part of their commute, not just for touristy joyrides, according to new data released by the bikeshare system and analyzed by NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation (pdf). Riders seem to be using the bikes to get from their subway stop to work, and from work to train on the way home. The busiest docking stations are those close to major subways hubs: Grand Central, Astor Place, Union Square and Penn Station top the list.

Using the bikes for commuting explains riders’ biggest gripe about the system: half the time you can’t find a bike, and the other half you can’t find a dock. Riders take the bikes from a few central stations in the morning, and return them to those few in the evening. Citi Bike has teams of people shuttling bikes around by car to “rebalance” the distribution, but it’s hard to keep up with almost 30,000 trips a day.

Compared to bike share programs in Chicago and D.C., New York has far more bikes, and far less distance between stations. Almost 75 percent of stations are within a five-minute walk of a subway stop. But maps of each network illustrate the limits of that – the dense clusters of blue dots end in a sharp line across 60th street, and most of the outer boroughs are blank. In DC, by contrast, the network spreads into Virginia and Maryland. While New York City Council members have expressed their willingness to use discretionary money to expand the system, that hasn’t happened yet.

Also out of balance is the gender breakdown of Citi Bike riders. Men outnumber women more than three to one. More men than women bike in general, but other bike share systems have a more even split between men and women members. In D.C., 45 percent of Capital Bikeshare members are female, according to a 2012 study (pdf). 

The system also released age data, which included a surprising number of people born in  -yes- 1899. Unless there are dozens of 115-year-olds cruising around the city, seems like users might be putting in fake birthdays. Leaving out people over age 80, here's the age breakdown, at least as reported by users.

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Comments [3]

Tyson White from New York, NY

David from Manhattan, you nailed it right on the head! This was all just a nefarious attack on the taxi industry. The whole citibike thing was just to stick it to the cabbies. Why else would they let New Yorkers ride bikes? And it's not just in New York - in 75 other cities around the world politicians, transportation officials, and city planners conspiring against the taxis.

Your other theory is equally good: The bike rental lobby. Or should we call it "the all-powerful" bike rental lobby. A lobby surely more powerful than the taxi drivers' lobby. This lucrative industry of bike rentals has bribed politicians in cities all over the world to buy into their Commie bike rental scheme.

Let's rise up and fight this! "Two wheels bad, four wheel good! Baaaaaaaah!"

Apr. 07 2014 03:43 PM
TOM from Brooklyn

David: I read the report on Capital system and noted that the taxi industry there took the biggest hit(22% users dropped cabs, only 1% dropped their cars).

Comparing post-launch reports of both DC & Chicago with NYC is the next step in this analysis.

Apr. 01 2014 11:13 AM
David from Manhattan

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. The whole system was build, sited and priced to serve the commuting needs of New Yorkers. The interesting and more important question is why? Political pressure from the bike rental lobby or a more nefarious attack on the taxi industry? Only Janette Sadik-Khan knows.

Apr. 01 2014 08:20 AM

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