Citi Bike Ruminations

So it’s come to this: selfish Citi Bikers hoarding bikes

Gothamist had an interesting article the other day about a jerk who decided to put a lock on a Citi Bike that was still in a dock. Here’s the photo from the report, taken by John Marsh. This was taken by 20th and the FDR Drive:

citibike hoarding

Evidently, some jerk decided that he wanted to ‘reserve’ this bike for himself or herself. It’s a particularly arse-holey move, considering that bikes are so hard to come by.

I’ve actually always wondered when I see the bikes with the red lights at docks all over whether other Citi Bikers aren’t doing the same thing–reporting a bike as broken but

While commenters on this post and news sites who picked up the story are spewing their vitriol to this person, and rightfully so, there’s someone else that should be getting more of the blame and is not: Citi Bike themselves.

The “promise” of Citi Bike was that for your $95 a year, you’d have unlimited access to bikes around the City. You pick them up where you like, drop them off where you like, save time, save money, save the environment, and get some great exercise.

The reality is that while Alta has done well in some areas (my always getting a bike at Penn Station in the morning is a good example), there are so many other areas where they and the City and the sponsors have done woefully. After over a week of riding, I have yet to roll into the office quicker than if I’d taken the subway or even walked (thanks to disappearing and over-capacity bike stations). I have yet to enjoy having a bike available at any station near me for my evening commute, and I really question whether the additional stress and exhaust fume I breathe in during my rides are hurting my health more than the bike riding is helping it.

And so when you see anti-social behavior like this (or bikers jockeying for position in the morning around bike rebalancers, or bikers running at breakneck speed at rush hour to get the last bike), the real blame really belongs the people who planned this thing out so poorly without understanding even basic things like supply and demand. As in, if you have 1000 people who have signed up for your service and only 20 bikes for them to fight over, you’re going to get idiots like this coming out of the woodwork.

The sad thing, is, the solutions really aren’t that difficult. Recruit an army of rebalancers whose job it is to ride bikes from busy stations to empty stations. Get the City to give them unlimited Metrocards to so do. In areas where there are huge numbers of people in office buildings, set up more docks, don’t take them away. Get the NYPD to enforce keeping the bike lanes clear from double-parking trucks, taxis–and police cars. Publish “best routes” for bikers to take in the mornings and the afternoons instead of us using trial and error. Stop wasting the $9 million that we’re paying you on docks that don’t work. And politicians–how about letting us pay the $95 expense tax-free the same way you let people pay for parking their gas-guzzling cars tax-free?

Anyway, just some “post-Day-9” ranting. It looks like we might be getting some rain in the forecast the next couple of days, so Day 10 might not be happening for a while (on the bright side, I’ll probably get my choice of bikes at rush hour).




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