Lifestyle Change: An Update on New York City’s Citi Bikes

New York City has transformed exponentially since the launch of Citi Bikes, their first bike share. With this new public mode of transportation, the city’s infrastructure and commuters are adjusting to a new way of life.

New York City is home to one of the largest bike networks in North America. With roughly 250 miles (400 km) of bikeways and a brand new bike share program, the city is truly on a roll. On May 27, 2013, Citi Bike was launched and the streets were adorned with indigo blue, city bikes. That day, Citi Bike added 4,750 bikes shared throughout 327 docking stations.

The subways and streets of New York are notorious for being congested and slow, but with Citi Bikes there is hope that people will abandon their cars and start riding. Instead of sitting in Midtown’s traffic, cyclists can zip down the Hudson River Greenway or daily commuters can park their cars in the outskirts of downtown and ride the rest of the way. At 71,760 annual members in mid-August, the numbers indicate that people are eager to change their routine to start using an efficient, exercise inducing, public mode of transportation.

Businesses are beginning to see the potential benefits of integrating Citi Bikes into their company structure. Landlords are bragging about the proximity to docking stations as a selling point, while companies, like media giant Hearst Corp, are allowing their employees to use part of their health care stipend for the annual membership fee. Even some bike stores expect bicycle sales to rise, now that people have an accessible introduction to cycling in New York.

On August 17, a record of 44,034 trips were made on Citi Bikes. With demand so high the daily influx of professionals commuting downtown leaves docking stations in other neighborhoods empty. Last month the city increased the number of trucks to manage rebalancing the bikes around the city. New York’s Department of Transportation is continually finding solutions to “the challenges related to the success of the system itself,” explained Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s transportation commissioner, but the voracious interest in the bike share can be overwhelming.

While Citi Bike is the only privately funded bike share in the US, the NYDOT is actively improving the system by listening to user feedback and tracking bike usage. Online, Citi Bike has made usage data available by graphing trips per day, total miles traveled (4,845,266 miles (7,797,706 km) as of August 16), and total annual members (71,760), creating a database for members and interested parties to visually experience the numbers making up the Citi Bike community.

The summer is nearing an end, and three months after its launch, Citi Bike has recorded each bike being used about seven times a day.  With the system doing as well as it is, the city’s future plans to reach 10,000 bikes at 600 docks in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens could not come soon enough.

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