Saturday, May 18, 2013

New York City Gears Up For the Launch of Citi Bike Share

Bike share will soon be unveiled after significant delays on Memorial Day for the “early-bird” types who purchased an annual membership in advance online.  The system will feature short-term and annual memberships, including one-day passes ($9.95) or week-pass ($25) for visitors. 

Woman riding a Citi Bike, credit: Crain's New York

How Does it Work?

Users visit a station and put down a $101 deposit on a credit or debit card.  Then they are given a code, which allows them to start their journey.

The premise of bike share is to use the system for short-trips, and that is reflected in the pricing structure.  The first half hour is free, but then the fees begin to rapidly increase. 

Pricing Structure for Non-Members

30-60 minutes - $4
60-90 minutes - $13
Additional 30+ minutes - $12

When you are ready to return the bike simply find an empty spot at a station and park it.  However, if there are no empty spots you can request a “Time Credit”, which allows you an additional 15 minutes with no extra charge.  In addition, you can search for nearby stations by selecting the “Find Nearby Stations” feature on the screen. 

Citi Bike Docking Station, credit: Streetsblog

Pricing Structure for Members

Those with annual memberships ($95) follow the same rules, yet they receive a price break on the charging.  The first 45 minutes is free and then the fees increase, however at a slower rate.

45-75 minutes - $2.50
75-105 minutes - $9
Additional 30+ minutes - $9

Initially, 6,000 bikes will be placed at 330 stations in Manhattan below 59th Street, and in several Brooklyn neighborhoods.  Next, Citi Bike will expand to 10,000 bikes and 600 stations, offering stations in Queens and bolstering Manhattan and Brooklyn.  Currently, over 10,000 people have signed up and many businesses have even inquired about purchasing a corporate membership. 

Citi Bike Share will launch on May 27th for early registrants
Dani Simons, director of marketing for New York Citi Bike Share, said, “We’ve heard from over 30 businesses already that they would really like to buy Citi Bike as a perk or as a health and wellness benefit for their employees.”

In addition, the sandwich shop chain, Wichcraft, employs about 400 employees and is considering corporate memberships to attract more applicants, particularly those in the delivery staff. Company spokesperson Ellen Kim said, "Currently as we hire delivery staff, they must have bikes... so we think [bike share] opens us up to a broader pool of people who don't need to own their own rides.”

Whether it’s for health benefits, transportation benefits, or simply for fun, New York City’s Citi Bike Share will foster a new level of opportunity for employers, employees, residents, and visitors one pedal at a time. 

Thanks to Ben Chaney for editing this post.



  1. What does the "corporate membership" include? On the other end of the spectrum, are there options for people without credit cards? Citi Bike did mention a discounted annual rate for NYC Housing Authority residents and members of select credit unions on their website, which is neat.

    Also, I took a look at the bike and noticed that Citi Bike is promoting their nitrogen-filled tires as staying full of air longer. Because...nitrogen molecules are larger? I'm confused how nitrogen is a cost-effective method for filling bicycle tires, especially within a large-scale bike share program. I guess time will tell!

  2. This is a great topic, especially as I'm working on a blog post on the same topic for London. I noticed something very similar - a potential pitfall for NYC's scheme based on the London experience.

    One of the main challenges with London's initial scheme was that after you pay the 2 Euro 'access fee', the first half hour is free. So riders misused this by docking their bike every thirty minutes to enjoy unlimited rides throughout the city for 24 hrs. The problem, of course, is that the system had to depend on 'late fees' and other penalties to make up for the revenue lost.

    So, I'm wondering if you came across any measures that NYC has taken to prevent this kind of misuse? I think the $101 deposit is a way to insure against that, but I wonder if that will just deter people from renting out bikes in the first place.

  3. Portland's defunct 'yellow bike' bike share program hasn't really come up as a conversation piece in class yet - maybe we've accepted that free bikes and the honor system isn't sustainable much less profitable. Although every time I take my 3-speed Schwinn cruiser out - which happens to be yellow - I am constantly reminded of the program. Because whether my bike's locked up or not I know someone's going to jump on it and try to take off. And they always apologize and cite the 'yellow bike' program when I chase them down.
    I mention this because it reminds me that even though the program failed it stuck with people and had a certain emotional resonance and I think that can be tapped into and built upon.
    How does this connect to bike sharing in NYC? Well, as I see it bike-sharing needs to be sound in business terms and exciting to users to succeed. We will see if the business plan works but as far enthusiasm goes, if this recent post in the NY Times is any indication, that's already there.


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