Could’ya Would’ya Should’ya – Examining NYC’s Citi Bike

In the premier edition of the blog piece we call “Could’ya Would’ya Should’ya” (CWS), where we look at a business/company and the products/services they offer to determine if there is real value in it for the consumer, we will take a brief look at Citi Bike – the new NYC Bike Share program.

Launched Memorial Day Weekend 2013 and currently in its 3rd Month of operation, Citi Bike has just over 6,000 bicycles and 300 kiosks in NYC. Riders have the availability to share a bike every few blocks in Manhattan and the downtown area of Brooklyn. The mornings see commuters taking bikes, most of the time until none are left, from transportation hubs (Penn, Grand Central, Port Authority) to far east and far west parts of town and then in the evening they are piled up in the same locations. They weigh nearly 45 pounds, have 3 speeds and about a half dozen Citi logos on them. If you want to try it out, you can get a 24-hour or 7-day access pass for $9.95 or $25, respectively. Once you realize that you’re riding into the future by utilizing innovation from the past, you will immediately log onto www.citibikenyc.com  (like I did) and sign up for an annual membership for $95. In addition to never having to go to the kiosk again to swipe a credit card and get a 5 digit code to share a bike, you also get to share the bike for 50% more time every trip (45 minutes versus 30 minutes, additional charges apply if your trip exceeds these time limits – just need to click in the bike to a kiosk to reset the time for your next trip). It works out to be nearly 25 cents a day! With these facts you could experience Citi Bike for yourself.

The bicycle dates back to the early 19th century Europe, with over 2 billion in use they nearly double automobile usage in the world. Invented somewhere near Amsterdam, (which I visited as part of my semester abroad in 2003) they have a bigger bike lane than any other commuting lane (which includes sidewalk, car lane, boat lane). That is where New Amsterdam (or NYC) is looking back to look forward. Some streets in NYC have dedicated bike lanes, some even have a median which separates car lanes from bikes lanes, but it’s the people that just walk wherever and whenever they please that slow both of these down. This is where NYC pedestrian’s need to smarten up and adjust to the innovative program. More bikes, less cars, are the future modes for this city. I would invest in Citi Bike if they would take my investment through public or private offering.

The program is already a success with well over 2 million miles travelled by sharers, but on their small and fragile fleet (watch out for the red lights at the kiosks for bike that need repairs) they need to continuously upgrade, monitor and maintain. Currently, they have flatbed trucks deployed daily to replenish bicycles in the highly trafficked hub areas. I found out by being an annual member for the past month that Citi Bike is either a love it or hate it program. Regardless of what side you’re on – you need to embrace the change because Citi Bike is definitely here to stay.

-       Arthur DaPonte

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