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Published on May 29th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


New York City Bike Share Launches — New Tech, Reactions, & How To Use The Citi Bikes

May 29th, 2013 by  

This article originally appeared on Bikocity.

New York City (NYC) has finally rolled out the beginnings of its large bicycle-sharing program, Citi Bike, with 6,000 bikes and 330 bike-sharing stations hitting the streets on Monday. The stations are initially located in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

It’s far from the largest such project at the moment, but it’s the largest in the US, and it plans to get up there with other major world bike-sharing programs eventually. Currently, the plan is to expand 10,000 bikes and 600 stations.

Credit: Margaret Badore (CC BY-NC 3.0 license)

Credit: Margaret Badore (CC BY-NC 3.0 license)

Over 15,000 New Yorkers have joined the Citi Bike network as annual members thus far. For $95 per year, members receive an unlimited number of trips, a key to unlock a bike from its dock, and a 45-minute window of travel time per trip,” Elise Zevitz of TheCityFix writes.

“The system also offers 24-hour and weekly passes, which come with a unique passcode to access a bicycle — allowing for an unlimited number of 30-minute trips for the duration of activation. (For more information about passes and memberships, click here.)”

We’ve got the same 30-minute deal in the Wrocław bike-sharing program I’m a member of. It’s a great feature, in my opinion, as I generally just use the bike for under 30 minutes (but wouldn’t if that cost several dollars). By the way, the bikes also look very similar.

The city projects that Citi Bike will create 170 jobs and generate about $36 million of local economic activity each year. On its first day, it logged a record-breaking 6,050 trips and 13,768 miles.

There have been a lot of notable reactions worth discussing. I’ll run down a few of those below.

Technological Improvements

To start with (I’ll save the controversy for later), bike-sharing leader/guru Paul DeMaio has noted some of the technological advancements the NYC bike share brings to the table.

Solar Masts

“The first of Citi Bike’s exciting advances in bike-sharing technology, developed by Public Bike System Company, are a solar mast and a combined key fob and smartcard reader. With New York’s skyscrapers, getting sufficient direct sunlight to the ground was an issue that was solved with the addition of a solar mast atop the kiosk. The solar mast is a 5-6′ pole that also is about 6″ in diameter and collects not direct sun, but ambient light.”

Quite an interesting solution. I’m curious what type of solar technology they are using for that.

Here are two pics:

Credit: Paul DeMaio

Credit: Paul DeMaio

Credit: Paul DeMaio

Credit: Paul DeMaio

Nifty Dock

“The improved dock includes a dual slot for both the standard key fob and a larger smart card slot for a future multi-transport card, likely to combine both the subway and bikes in the future.” Picture:

Credit: Paul DeMaio

Credit: Paul DeMaio

As I noted in April, São Paulo is also planning to link its bike-sharing program with other modes of transit under one city transit pass. I’m not sure yet if the city will use the same docking technology, but it wouldn’t be surprising.

Avoiding The Obstacles…

“Other minor advances which may not invoke oohs and aahs, but as the program manager for Arlington’s portion of Capital Bikeshare, I’m looking forward to bridging that can turn a location with impediments into a feasible site. This bridging can zig and zig around a tree well, manhole, fire hydrant, etc. and transform a space that was too small into a candidate for a station. As every inch of urban space seems to be spoken for, this minor advancement is a big deal.”

Credit: Paul DeMaio

Credit: Paul DeMaio

Credit: Paul DeMaio

Credit: Paul DeMaio

… And The Delivery Trucks

“One ‘only in New York’ advancement is the little circle covering the dock holes on platforms to make room for deliveries. With such large stations, these gaps allow stations to be long while providing space for those deliveries to be made.”

Credit: Paul DeMaio

Credit: Paul DeMaio

The Whining Will Stop

There’s been some quite illogical whining and bitching about the Citi Bike program by a small percentage of people who apparently think bikes are more of an intrusion than cars. (Wha???) The ever eloquent and thoughtful Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize has a couple responses:

bike sharing whining graph

In light of the recent launch of New York City’s Citibike bike share system, Copenhagenize Design Co. has produced this highly-scientific and frightfully academic statistical graph.

Based on the 500-odd bike share systems now in place in the world we have gathered all the public perception of the systems and crunched the data – compressing it rudely but effectively into one easy graph – for use by cities who are considering implementing a bike share system.

Fun. 😀

Also, apparently, one New York NIMBY unhappy with the bike share said something along the lines of, “I can’t imagine the Mayor of Paris putting a bike-share rack in front of the Louvre.” Hmm, Mikael’s response:

Louvre bike sharing racks

Yep, there are tons of bike-sharing racks around the Louvre. Of course there are — it’s a major destination, and Paris led the way in 3rd generation bike-sharing programs like the one that went up in New York City today. It has one of the largest and most successful such programs in the world, Velíb.

So much for that idea, NIMBY!

Citi Bike Videos!

You can’t show off a bike-sharing program without videos! Here are a few:

The announcement from Mayor Bloomberg on Monday:

The announcement from Mayor Bloomberg last year:

Complainers and cheerleaders:

How to use the system:

For more bike sharing stories from Bikocity, check out our bike sharing archives. Be sure to check out my review of Wrocław’s very similar bike-sharing program (as well as pics and videos from just before launch and links to several other bike-sharing programs around the world), which does have some flaws. Also make sure to check out Streetsblog’s rundown of various US bike-sharing programs about to launch

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort on Tesla or any other company.

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