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Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Citi Bikes Invade New York City

Last year we reported about the Citi Bike public bike program in New York City. We were excited for its unveiling in July…last July that is. Unfortunately, some technical issues (keeping track of the initial 6K bikes across their 300 stations can’t be an easy) and a little hurricane delayed the program. Well it’s finally here, and the distinctive blue bikes can now be seen throughout Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.

citibike-map

We applaud Citi Bike for making a pricing scheme that is both New Yorker and tourist friendly. Locals can pay $95 for a yearly pass which permits unlimited <45 minute rides. Not-so-locals can pay either $9.95 for 24 hours or $25 for a seven day pass, which permit unlimited <30 minute rides for the length of the pass. Overage charges apply when those time limits are exceeded. This pricing scheme seems to denote that Citi Bikes are actually meant for transportation, not merely joyrides around Times Square–i.e. get on, get to your location, leave bike.

citibike-brooklyn

The introduction of the program is not without controversy. In particular, residents of the historic Fort Greene and Clinton Hill neighborhoods of Brooklyn have taken issue with the fact that Citi Bike stations act as big billboards for Citigroup, the chief sponsor of the program. Some critics have also warned of the potential for vandalism, similar to that Paris’ Vélib’ program initially received.

earth-policy-bike-sharing

That said, more than a few people–bicycle advocacy groups included–are expressing their approbation of the program, which plans to expand to 10K bikes across 600 stations. In fact, the first round of memberships, capped at 5K, sold out in 30 hours. And as a trend, public bike programs are only on the rise, as the above charge by Earth Policy Institute indicates.

While having your own bike is great, public bike shares provide something else. As Bikesnob NYC ever-so-succinctly put it: “I already own a toilet too, but it’s still more convenient for me to use a different one when I’m not at home.”

More info at Citi Bike’s website

6 Comments

  1. SWPL says:

    <45minutes

  2. Graham says:

    The 45 minute limit seems designed to get us to pay more. I’ve taken an unscientific poll of fellow New Yorkers and asked them if they will be able to get from Point A to Point B in < 45 minutes on average. The answer is Not A Chance. People are going to be hit with surcharges and that $95 annual fee is not going to be the price you pay by a long shot.

    CitiBank is a BANK. Banks love FEES that appear out of nowhere. Enough said.

    • as a longtime nyc bike commuter, i’d have to respectfully disagree with you assessment. my average intra-borough commute is sub 15 mins, e.g. soho to midtown, at a very leisurely pace would take 15 mins. between boroughs that time increased closer to 30 mins, depending on where you start (though these bikes aren’t located deep in brooklyn).

      i think citi bike is mostly for getting around within a borough however as these bikes are more euro-style, with an upright position not ideal for getting anywhere quickly. even so, 45 mins is generous.

      i would agree with your assessment in so far as tourists are concerned. they might not be comfortable riding in nyc, nor know ideal routes, and their 30 mins would run out pretty quick.

    • Mike says:

      What you don’t seem to realize is that you can dock the bike at the 44 minute mark and then get on a new bike for another 45 minutes without incurring an extra fee. The 45 minute rule is designed to keep people from holding on to the bikes as their personal bikes, but you can keep riding as long as you don’t leave the zone where docks exist.

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