Citibike's expansion into Crown Heights might happen afterall
  • "One of these people said the emerging agreement would call for bringing docking stations to Queens for the first time, in neighborhoods such as Long Island City. Williamsburg and Park Slope in Brooklyn also also get new docking stations while other Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Prospect Heights, parts of Crown Heights and Red Hook could get the blue bikes for the first time, this person said. In Manhattan, docking stations would be placed as far north as 130th Street, and this person said."

    http://online.wsj.com/articles/citi-bike-poised-for-a-big-infusion-of-cash-1406163340
  • Awesome. I Citi Bike home from Lower Manhattan most days when I haven't ridden my own bike to work. I have to dock at the station near Franklin @ Atlantic which is still nearly a mile from my apartment.

    Glad to see they are raising the annual membership price. Those have been way under-priced.
  • I'm all for this! However even with the increased membership cost do they really have the money to expand seeing how their having trouble maintaining bikes?
  • I really wish we could get just singular and large stations at the main train stations surrounding Prospect Park.

    2/3 at GAP
    F/G at 15th Street
    Q at Parkside
    Q/B/S at Prospect Park

    It would at least get bikes near neighborhoods like south slope, ditmas park, plg, park slope, and prospect heights while getting people (both New Yorkers and tourists alike) to bike in the park.
  • newguy88 said:

    I'm all for this! However even with the increased membership cost do they really have the money to expand seeing how their having trouble maintaining bikes?



    It sounds like the new investment from REQX Ventures will provide that.  And an increase of $50 on annual memberships will mean an immediate increase of ~$5M in annual operating revenues given >100K members (some will drop out with the price increase, but others will join with the system expansion).

    As much as I want the system to expand southward in Brooklyn, it seems to me that the smarter investment would be more stations in Manhattan, especially north of 59th.  

    The main reason for Citi Bike's lower than expected revenues in its first year is that it has proven to be too popular with local commuters.  Tourists and less frequent local users provide a lot higher $/ride ratio, but they have had difficulty finding bikes with the annual members using them so frequently; many Manhattan stations are empty at rush hours.  Most people who bike in Brooklyn use their own bikes most of the time, and there are far fewer tourists than in Manhattan.  

    But if REQX wants to expand the system farther south, no argument here... :-)
  • Part of my thought around why Citibank invested in the program is to strengthen its reputation among young, college educated people (ie the demographics of many Citibike riders). It branded the bikes and the stations to further this goal.

    Will REQX similarly brand the bikes with ads about Related Realty?

    ...lots of young bike riding types do move frequently and will eventually buy their first home.
  • A big reason why tourists and non-annual members have not used it much is that the software bugs have made using it this way very difficult. I've heard that people can spend up to 10-15 minutes trying to check out a bike, going through several different codes and needing to call Citibike. If they bought a 12 hour pass, they have to do this many times during the day. I doubt they would be likely to do the same thing again on their trip (tourists) or soon (residents). 
  • I will believe it when I see it. I am an annual member and use the bikes to get home from midtown when the weather is good. I think that the reason tourists don't use it more is because of the lack of stations surrounding Central Park in Manhattan and the general unfriendliness of the software that runs the stations. A colleague of mine is a casual user and has now been given a plastic card to insert in the individual dock that alleviates the need to enter a code, if Citibike makes these cards available for sale at hotels and other tourist venues, then more tourists will use the bikes.
  • bohuma said:

    I will believe it when I see it. I am an annual member and use the bikes to get home from midtown when the weather is good. I think that the reason tourists don't use it more is because of the lack of stations surrounding Central Park in Manhattan and the general unfriendliness of the software that runs the stations. A colleague of mine is a casual user and has now been given a plastic card to insert in the individual dock that alleviates the need to enter a code, if Citibike makes these cards available for sale at hotels and other tourist venues, then more tourists will use the bikes.



    Great idea.  I agree that if I were a tourist I would be terrified to ride through midtown - but riding through the larger parks in BK and Manhattan or riding to destinations (Coney Island?) would be great.  But then you'd need a dock.
  • xlizellx said:

    Great idea.  I agree that if I were a tourist I would be terrified to ride through midtown - but riding through the larger parks in BK and Manhattan or riding to destinations (Coney Island?) would be great.  But then you'd need a dock.



    Many may be too scared to ride in Midtown, but there really is no need to be. There are separated bike lanes on several major avenues (1st, 2nd, Broadway, 8th, 9th), and side street traffic at most times of the day rarely gets above 25mph. Citi Bike has had over 10 million rides now w/ 0 major injuries. It's very, very safe.
  • Another reason tourists/casual users probably don't use citi bike as much is the short term cost, $10 for 24hours, is too high. In comparison, a 24 hours pass in london is 2gbp, around $3.50. 
  • MasTacos said:

    Another reason tourists/casual users probably don't use citi bike as much is the short term cost, $10 for 24hours, is too high. In comparison, a 24 hours pass in london is 2gbp, around $3.50. 



    I don't know about that. Before bike sharing was a thing tourists spent $30-$50 per day to rent bikes through places like bike-n-roll and others. I know when we honeymooned in San Fran 2 bikes for the day was almost $100
  • I wonder if there couldn't be some kind of insurance purchased for theft as with rental cars. You get charged $1000 if the bike is lost or stolen. I don't know if they come with chains and locks but I'm sure people usually don't have them available. This may be another reason that many tourists don't use the bikes. If a reasonable amount could be decided upon even people who subscribe by the year might be tempted to buy it.
  • But isn't the idea that you aren't supposed to be a victim of theft because you are going to dock close to your destination and then just take another bike when you are ready to go? I think that the reason that bikes are primarily below 59th Street in Manhattan is because the vast majority of tourist sites are located below 59th Street. If the model was fully implemented, then you'd have more market penetration. But with is only being located in a small area, you basically are cutting out anyone who wants to travel outside of that area.

    As for insurance, I don't think there would be a problem finding a company that was willing to write the policy, I just think that the price point would be too high to justify (if the cost is $10 per 24 hours, anything more than $2-3 might impact someone's willingness to purchase insurance). I also don't think that the bike lobby wants to move towards the concept of bikers carrying insurance. It opens the door to a requirement for all bikers, which they are strongly against.
  • homeowner said:

    But isn't the idea that you aren't supposed to be a victim of theft because you are going to dock close to your destination and then just take another bike when you are ready to go? I think that the reason that bikes are primarily below 59th Street in Manhattan is because the vast majority of tourist sites are located below 59th Street. If the model was fully implemented, then you'd have more market penetration. But with is only being located in a small area, you basically are cutting out anyone who wants to travel outside of that area.

    As for insurance, I don't think there would be a problem finding a company that was willing to write the policy, I just think that the price point would be too high to justify (if the cost is $10 per 24 hours, anything more than $2-3 might impact someone's willingness to purchase insurance). I also don't think that the bike lobby wants to move towards the concept of bikers carrying insurance. It opens the door to a requirement for all bikers, which they are strongly against.



    Yeah, I don't think theft is a big fear.  People know they are going to be riding from one dock to another without ever being away from the bike. 

    I'd be interested to see the geographic origin of tourists using the bikes.  I would guess it's disproportionately weighted towards Europeans.  They not only bike commute a lot more than Americans, they are much more familiar with bike share systems given several large cities there had systems before Citi Bike was running. Americans have a much greater fear of bike riding as well; thus our obsession with helmets, something Europeans don't share.
  • When the program first launched, I remember reading about how the bikes would have microchips embedded in them to allow recovery. This idea was that they would serve as a deterrent to theft.

    If citibike hasn't been able to obtain the cooperation of the the police (or hire a security firm of some sort), then they basically aren't upholding their part of the bargain.

    ...I shouldn't have to worry about being charged $1000 for someone taking a bike that I thought I securely returned to faulty dock.

    Citibike should mitigate my risk of same, by having a good program to retrieve "wayward, unrented" bikes.

    Thieves are less likely to take bikes from the docks, or individuals if they know their is a likelihood of someone in a uniform telling them the bike is presently "unrented" ...


  • True enough if you don't decide to stop for a Starbucks along the ride and leave the bike unattended for a few minutes. Last year I saw one of the local slime lifting a bike through the window of his apartment. Told a cop about it the next day when he was doing foot patrol in front of my office. Even showed him the apartment. Told me since there were no bikes in the 77th he wasn't going to do anything about it but he'd tell the detectives. Probably by that time they would have needed a search warrant to get into the apartment and if he even told them they decided it wasn't worth the effort.
  • I wonder how much it actually cost Citibike to replace a bike.

    $1000 seems like it should buy 2 bikes.
  • Not sure why you would steal a Citibike.  There's far easier bikes to steal that are lighter, more practical, and less conspicuous.
  • whynot_31 said:

    I wonder how much it actually cost Citibike to replace a bike.

    $1000 seems like it should buy 2 bikes.



    I seem to remember seeing somewhere that they cost $6-700. The expense was mostly attributed to custom parts to prevent people from stealing parts to put on their own bikes.

    That said, I don't think bike theft is really a problem. Yes there are plenty of articles about people doing odd things with citi bikes but those are only a handful out of 6,000 in circulation. I'm not sure a system to track up to 12,000 items that cost less than $1000 would be worth the set up and operational costs.

    Re: Alta's expenses... Don't forget that they lost a considerable amount of brand new property to hurricane sandy that was in storage right before it was meant to be deployed. Furthermore, citi bike is public transportation, I would like to see support from the government just like every other form of public transportation. 
  • MasTacos said:

    Furthermore, citi bike is public transportation, I would like to see support from the government just like every other form of public transportation.


    More than anything else in the WSJ article this line from DiBlasio stood out:

    "Citi Bike has become part of our public transportation system, and there is a lot riding on its success."

    He and other city officials have previously indicated Citi Bike will not be funded by the city. People hate the sound of a corporate bailout. But Citi Bike truly has become part of the NYC transit system (as large bike share programs elsewhere have become as well (e.g. Velib in Paris)). Bikes can bridge the "last mile" of a transit network better than any other options, and many NYC residents have clearly come to realize that quickly. Citi Bike should receive major public funds and be greatly expanded.
  • If Citibank can afford to pay the Mets $25 million a year for the naming rights of their stadium they can afford to pump a million or so into Citibike for a few more years. Unless of course the seven billion they're paying the government for bad mortgages really tapped them out,
  • Some investments have a lower ROI than others.

    While the bikes may have the social benefits Mike describes, they may not be providing the benefits that Citibank sought/seeks.
  • eastbloc said:

    Not sure why you would steal a Citibike.  There's far easier bikes to steal that are lighter, more practical, and less conspicuous.



    While not bright, this person disagreed:
    http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/07/27/cops_say_thief_painted_citi_bike_hilarity_ensues.php#more

  • I would suspect that some of these thefts are crimes of opportunity. The bike's unlocked, someone takes it. Sort of like when an idiot goes into a convenience store and leaves the car running and it gets stolen. Those aren't professional thieves. Just people letting their stupidity take over.
  • Yes, I have heard that the docks are defective, and that people then steal the bikes from them.

    For the sake of the prior "legal" user, I hope that the docks record the return of the bike, but then simply don't secure them.



  • My teenaged son told me that there are videos up on YouTube on how to jailbreak a Citibike from its dock. Evidently its a very popular thing among the teen set who do not have credit cards and have no interest in getting one to rent a bike for a short ride. The bikes in question are properly docked, but there is a way to have the dock release a bike without you using a fob or credit card. I saw an older gentleman in Union Sq one day going from one bike to another trying to get the dock to release, so this is not just a teen thing. This may also be a reason why the app says a bike is present in a dock, but you get there and there are no bikes available.


  • Some investments have a lower ROI than others.

    While the bikes may have the social benefits Mike describes, they may not be providing the benefits that Citibank sought/seeks.


    There's not much incentive for them to add more.  They've likely gained all the brand awareness they will via the the program... operating losses (which they aren't on the hook for) aside, the program has been a huge success: safe and very popular.  Adding more bikes now doesn't do much to increase awareness of their brand; it's just a new expense for them.

    On a separate note, WNYC report today with comments from the Equinox CEO (part of REQX Ventures):

  • If I were Related Companies, I wouldn't try to rename the bike program.

    I'd be happy with just having advertisements on the docks. I'd have all of the companies' locations refill the cards or serve as "enrollment centers", to further merge the brands' identities.

    @homeowner - yes, I've heard the docks can be pretty easily defeated even when they work, and this is part of why bikes are not there when you need them.

    ....The system records bikes as being there that are no longer there.

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