A little more than one week in, a new program to bring bicycles to the masses in New York City is getting mixed reviews. - USA Today
Source: USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/06/11/citi-bike-sharing-new-york/2387287/
NEW YORK — Citi Bike, the nation’s largest bike-sharing program, appears to be popular, in spite of a few inaugural bumps: trouble unlocking some bikes from stations, some annual members not receiving keys in the mail and long waits on the customer service line.
The program is sponsored by Citi, the banking institution, to the tune of $41 million.
As of Monday, June 10, almost 37,000 people had signed up for annual memberships, according to the Citi Bike blog. The program has 6,000 bicycles available.
Neither Citi Bike nor the city transportation department would say if their expectations have been met, but transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said the program is off to a good start, making crosstown trips quicker in a city known for traffic-clogged streets.
“In just 10 days these signature blue bikes are already everywhere on city streets,” Sadik-Khan said in a written statement.
The fees — $95 a year, $25 for seven days or $9.95 for 24 hours — beat most private bicycle rentals.
“The bike share program … creates another public transportation option that for many people will be faster and more convenient than walking or taking the subway,” said Josh Wilson, executive director of the New York Bicycling Coalition, a state advocacy group.
Chelly Campbell is recovering from a running injury and turned to cycling to regain her fitness. She bought an annual key as soon as they became available and has used the bikes to run errands, take her dog to the park and commute home from work. She is saving half her $25 weekly subway fare, she said.
“It’s better for me to to be … taking Citi Bike than taking the bus,” said Campbell, 46, of Manhattan. “It takes almost the same amount of time, but on a bus I would always, like, nod off, be reading, fall asleep. With doing the Citi Bike, I came home and I had energy. I was like, ‘Let’s go do something.’ ”
Someone with an annual membership may take a bike for up to 45 minutes at a time. Others are limited to 30 minutes. Keep a bike longer and you could pay up to $12 for every additional half-hour if you’re a one-day renter or seven-day renter, or $9 if you have an annual membership. An annual user gets a key, and others get a code, to release a bike from its moorings. A bike can be returned to any station.
Some users say the program, which launched on Memorial Day, has had its weak moments. Occasionally, an entire station has locked up with the bicycles unable to be taken out or difficult to park and lock up.
Caroline Samponaro of Transportation Alternatives, a group that advocates biking, walking and public transportation, said glitches are to be expected in a project’s first days.
“It’s not like this is a surprising thing,” she said. “I would say it’s doing overwhelmingly well.”
Manhattanite Nigel Savage is taking the glitches in stride. He decided to take a bike from his office to lunch near Times Square.
“Needed someone to show me how to use the key and get the bike out and sailed happily to lunch,” Savage said. “I enjoyed the ride — solid, heavy, a bit chunky. It felt like a moped without the engine.”
After lunch, he went to grab a bike to go back to the office and couldn’t get it out of its moorings. He saw several people having the same problem and walked a couple of blocks to another station.
“Obviously, there are one or two minor glitches they’ll have to fix, but overall, I loved it,” Savage said. “I hope three years from now, the bikes are all over Manhattan. If they are, we’ll be happier and healthier.”