Urban Velo

Citibike Bike Share Look Released in New York

New York released the look of their much anticipated Citibike bike share program on Monday. Sponsored by Citibank, the rides look like rolling advertisements, because they basically are. Citibank fronted a significant amount of money for the program and this is their return. The program details haven’t been devoid of criticism, but that hasn’t been directed toward the aesthetics as much as it has the price of renting the bikes. This, I discovered, is due to a lack of understanding as to how the program works.

The bikes can be rented through a $95 yearly membership, $25 for a week, and $9.95 for a day. These membership prices don’t get you a bike for an entire day though, only 30 minutes (45 if you’re a yearly membership card holder). Extra time usage for the bike skyrockets after that, adding up to $13 for another hour, $25 for an hour and a half and upwards. It sounds laughably expensive, but the comments from this post explain the system further.

These bikes are meant to be rented for very short periods of time and to get you from point A (the rental station near your house) to point B (grocery store, library, etc.). You pay nothing beyond the membership for that short ride. You then lock the bike up and when you need another one to get back to your original destination (or somewhere else), you check out another bike. The point is to keep these bikes in constant circulation and refrain from having a bike checked out in the morning and put out of commission with one rider all day, in case they planned on taking it somewhere and locking it up all day before riding it back to the rental station once they are through with it. High prices are a huge part of the incentive to use the bikes on a short trip basis only. I must say, I agree with this approach.

Hopefully an educational component will help people understand the seemingly high fees and get them over the fear of using this rental program.

More about the program here.

About Scott Spitz

Commuting, touring, kid hauling, couriering, mechanic work, sales, advocacy, fixed, free—Scott has had his hands in it all over the years.

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  1. jorgeMay 10, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the whole way this particular bike share program is structured only reinforces the need to purchase one’s own bike, and use a bike on a regular basis, rather than every once in a while. Will Citi ask me to bail them out if I get a flat tire? Hahahaha!!!!! Seriously though, for a successful, non-commercial bike share program that works, look to Montreal.

  2. MageSTYKMay 10, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Anyone who live on NYC and rent this is an idiot. Just use the money and buy a bike on craiglist. However, I guess if you a tourist then this would be the way to roll I suppose.

  3. Billy O'May 10, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Last week, having taken a train out of New Haven, with my eventual destination of Long Island, I would have rented a bike just to hustle myself from Grand Central to Penn Station.

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