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Posts from the Bike Sharing Category

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Take a Look at the EZ New Citi Bike Docks

The new Ben Serotta-designed Citi Bikes are hitting the streets — 1,000 are supposed to go into circulation by the end of the month. But wait, there’s more. Citi Bike is also testing out new docking mechanisms. I tried one out at the bike-share station on Eighth Avenue next to Penn Station, where a few docks have the new hardware.

The biggest difference is that the bike automatically pops out once it’s unlocked, so riders don’t have to pull it. Also, while you can still release a bike by dipping a key fob, there’s also a spot on the right side of the dock to tap Citi Bike touch cards. Have a look:

Before, above. After, below. Photos: Stephen Miller

Before, above. After, below. Photos: Stephen Miller

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Upper West Siders to DOT: Citi Bike Stations Need to Be Closer Together

DOT is planning 39 bike-share stations between 59th and 107th streets. Map: DOT [PDF]

DOT is planning 39 bike-share stations between 62nd and 107th streets. Click to enlarge. Map: DOT [PDF]

Citi Bike is coming to the Upper West Side, but the expansion map DOT revealed last night has big gaps between stations. Like the map for the Upper East Side, the UWS plan calls for fewer stations per square mile than the current Citi Bike service area.

Both neighborhoods are among the densest residential areas in the city and have major destinations like hospitals and museums. If stations are too few and far between, the system will be poorly-equipped to provide good service.

At a meeting of the Manhattan Community Board 7 transportation committee last night, DOT showed the draft map for 39 bike-share stations between 62nd and 107th streets [PDF 1, 2], the product of a public planning process that stretches back several years.

Nearly 200 people showed up. While there was no shortage of Rabinowitz-esque opposition to “commercialization” and the loss of free on-street parking, most people were eager for bike-share’s arrival.

“We recognize that every parking space is needed and valued by the community,” said DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione. “But listen, there’s a trade-off. This is a great amenity and a great asset for the community.” The crowd then erupted in booming applause.

Several audience members told DOT they wanted stations spaced closer together, and closer to major destinations. “I don’t think this is going to be enough bikes to satisfy the need,” said Pamela Margolin, who lives on West 81st Street across from the Museum of Natural History. “We need to have enough bikes to make it work. I don’t think those two stations [near the museum] are going to be enough.”

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Here’s Where Citi Bike Stations Will Go on the Upper East Side

Map: DOT [PDF]

DOT is planning 39 bike-share stations on the Upper East Side between 59th and 96th Streets. Stations below 86th Street could be up and running by late summer or early fall. Map: DOT [PDF]

At a meeting hosted by the Manhattan Community Board 8 transportation committee last night, DOT unveiled a map showing 39 planned Citi Bike station locations on the Upper East Side [PDF]. The city said it expects service to be operating as far north as 86th Street by late summer or early fall, with further expansion next year.

The station locations were identified after a multi-year planning process, followed by a public workshop in February, where DOT asked the public to suggest station locations.

With narrow sidewalks throughout much of the neighborhood, most of the 37 stations, with an average of 35 docks each, will be installed in the roadbed. DOT is still working with NYCHA and tenants associations on exact locations for two stations near Isaacs Houses and Holmes Towers between 91st and 96th streets and between First and York Avenues.

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America’s Biggest Bike-Share Operator Now Makes Its Own Bikes

Motivate-Bike-and-Mystery-Man

Ben Serotta assembles one of the first models of Motivate’s new bike. Photo: Motivate

Motivate, the company that runs bike-share systems in several large American cities, is now manufacturing its own bikes. That might explain why the timetable for Citi Bike expansion has been getting a lot firmer.

When the current Motivate management team took over last fall, they inherited two big problems. Most of their systems ran on flawed software that crippled reliability and frustrated riders, and the manufacturer of their bikes had gone bankrupt.

Now both issues have been addressed: Replacement software from 8D Technologies installed this spring has a proven track record in other cities, and the new bikes — designed by Ben Serotta — clear up how the company’s fleets will be expanded and replenished.

The new bikes will be used in the expansion of Citi Bike starting later this year, in Jersey City’s upcoming bike-share system, and in any future system operated by Motivate. Bike-share docks will be compatible with both the new bikes and the old models made by Bixi.

Motivate_Green_BikeThe new design retains the thick boomerang-shaped frame — the notable differences are in the guts and components of the bike. Gearing has been adjusted so riders don’t spin so much in the low gear. The seats, notorious for cracking and retaining moisture in the current models, got an overhaul. “The construction and material are both supposed to improve wear,” said Serotta, “plus the hole in the middle allows water to drain and not puddle in the middle… and provides a more comfortable, better ventilated ride.” (Nigel Tufnel will be delighted to see that the seat post size now goes to 11.)

In designing the new bikes, Serotta worked in tandem with Motivate’s head mechanics. In a short email interview, he explained that process and how it shaped the end product. Below is a lightly edited version:

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Citi Bike Could Expand to 86th Street This Summer

It looks like that Phase II expansion might itself come in phases, starting later this summer. Image: Citi Bike

That Phase II expansion looks like it will start this summer. Image: Citi Bike

It looks like some parts of Manhattan north of 59th Street could be getting Citi Bike sooner than previously expected.

At a town hall hosted by Council Member Helen Rosenthal last week, DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione said Citi Bike would expand to 86th Street by August or September, and to 110th Street “probably in March,” reports West Side Rag. Citi Bike had previously announced its intent to extend the service area to about 130th Street by the end of 2017. Last week’s meeting revealed the timetable for phasing in that expansion.

Manhattanites will have a chance to look over the final bike-share station map starting this week, following public meetings earlier this year. The Community Board 8 transportation committee, which covers the Upper East Side, is meeting Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. The CB 7 transportation committee, covering the Upper West Side, is scheduled to meet next Tuesday, May 12, at 7 p.m.

Expansion in Brooklyn — part of Citi Bike’s plan to grow from 6,000-bike system to 12,000 bikes — is set to come in phases, too, though there is no specific timetable yet.

New stations in Bed-Stuy, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg are expected to come online first, by the end of this year. DNAinfo reported last week that DOT staff say the first significant group of stations south of Atlantic Avenue will be added west of Fourth Avenue, before covering Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and parts of Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens.

Streetsblog USA
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NACTO: If You Want Bike-Share to Succeed, Put Stations Close Together

There's a strong correlation between bike share station density and how many people use the system. Image: NACTO

There’s a strong correlation between how closely spaced bike-share stations are and how frequently they are used. Image: NACTO

A new study from the National Association of City Transportation Officials [PDF] adds credence to the theory that station density is a key factor in whether a bike-share system will flourish or flop.

More stations per mile, more ridership per bike. Chart: NACTO

More stations per mile, more ridership per bike. Chart: NACTO

In its analysis of bike-share systems across the U.S., NACTO found that stations that are close to other stations see more use. In addition, bike-share systems with higher overall density — New York and Paris are leaders — tend to have higher ridership than more dispersed systems like Minneapolis’s Nice Ride.

Riders from systems around the U.S. report the primary reason they use bike-share is because it is easier or more convenient than available alternatives. But users don’t want to have to travel a long distance searching for a place to pick up or return a bike. So the accessibility of bike stations — and, crucially, accessibility by walking — is a primary determinant of their usefulness.

“Research on transit users finds that most people will walk no more than a 1/2 mile to get to commuter rail, with a large drop-off beyond a 1/4 mile,” the report says. “The distance someone will walk to use a bike appears to be much smaller — about 1,000 feet or 5 minutes walking.”

Furthermore, placing stations close together across a contiguous area offers “exponentially” more destinations than those that are isolated.

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StreetFilms
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Bike-Share Comes to Philly With the Launch of Indego

On Thursday, Philadelphia’s long wait for a bike-share system came to an end with the launch of the 60-station, 600-bike Indego system, which is set to expand in the near future. At the kickoff, volunteers and officials — including Mayor Michael Nutter — rode about half of those bikes to their docking stations.

I got to talk to most of the movers and shakers who helped come to fruition. Even more fun, I got to ride with Mayor Nutter’s platoon of Indego-ers to a station near City Hall.

The pricing system of Indego is what sets it apart. Instead of a yearly fee with trips capped at 30 or 45 minutes before extra fees kick in, which is the most popular subscription option offered by most other systems, Indego is going with a fee of $15 per month for unlimited one-hour per trips. This allows people to avoid the larger upfront cost of an annual fee, and subscribers who, say, only want to ride during warmer weather can also save some money. Another option is IndegoFlex, which provides a year of access to the system for a base fee of $10, with a per-trip fee of $4 for rides up to one hour long.

Indego is the largest bike-share system in the country that uses BCycle bikes and stations. It’s going to be a great addition to Philly, which has the largest bike commute mode share of any American city with more than 1 million people.

Streetsblog SF
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Bay Area Bike Share to Expand Tenfold By 2017

Photo: Aaron Bialick

Bay Area Bike Share will expand to a 7,000-bike system over the next two years and venture into Oakland, Berkeley, and Emeryville. San Francisco’s system will dramatically increase to 4,500 bikes, and San Jose’s will expand to 1,000.

The mayors of all five cities announced the expansion today along with Motivate, the system’s operator (formerly known as Alta), which will enlarge the system tenfold “at no cost to taxpayers.”

Here are the details, according to a Mayor’s Office press release:

Motivate’s proposal includes bringing a total of 850 bikes to Oakland, 400 to Berkeley and 100 to Emeryville, and boosting the number of bikes in San Francisco to 4,500 from the current 328, and the number in San Jose to 1,000 from the current 129. Motivate plans to add 150 more bikes to the Bay Area Bike Share fleet after the four-phase expansion is complete in late 2017. While the locations of these bikes have not been identified, Motivate proposes to keep at least 50 of them in the East Bay.

Supervisor Scott Wiener issued a statement applauding “this proposal to dramatically expand bike share,” as he has pushed for. “A robust and sustainable bike share network is a key part of being a Transit First city and will allow us to reap the benefits of bike share, including reducing traffic, improving public transit, and stimulating the local economy,” he said.

Mayor Ed Lee issued this statement:

When we launched Bay Area Bike Share nearly two years ago, we saw a transformation in the way that residents and visitors moved around the Bay Area with an easy, convenient, affordable and healthy transportation option in our world-class transportation network. The proposed expansion of this popular bike share program will help residents and visitors move around our diverse San Francisco neighborhoods, and around the Bay Area region more easily.

This is the first wave of expansion since new management took over at Alta Bicycle Share and changed the company’s name to Motivate in January.

Motivate also operates bike-share systems in New York, DC, Boston, Chicago, and Seattle.

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Citi Bike Installs New Software, Laying the Foundation for Better Service

Citi Bike boss Jay Walder says last weekend's software upgrade lays the groundwork for more improvements at the bike-share system. Photo: Stephen Miller

Citi Bike boss Jay Walder said a software upgrade will lead to major improvements for bike-share riders. Photo: Stephen Miller

It’s the beginning of the end for Citi Bike’s software troubles.

After operating for nearly two years with software that drove bike-share users nuts, Motivate, the company that runs Citi Bike, says it has replaced its back-end with a better platform that will lay the foundation for major improvements in reliability and convenience.

Citi Bike shut down abruptly over the weekend to switch out the system’s software, Motivate chief Jay Walder said this morning. In place of the problematic back-end supplied by PBSC Urban Systems, Citi Bike now runs on software from 8D Technologies, the firm that developed the successful plumbing behind bike-share systems in other cities. The weekend work wrapped ahead of schedule on Saturday evening.

The most immediate improvement will be stations that stay online consistently. Walder said that at any given time over the past winter, 20 of the system’s 332 stations shut down after failing to hold a charge and burning through their solar-powered batteries. Today, all 332 stations are operating, Walder said, except for the six that have been removed for road construction or utility work.

The Citi Bike app has also been updated and will display the availability of bikes and docks more accurately, with information updated every 10 seconds. “We now have, for the very first time, accurate, real-time information,” Walder said. “You now can rely on the information that is in the app.”

Additional customer-facing software, including the displays at kiosks themselves, will be upgraded before the busy summer season, with most work taking place overnight, Walder said. The new software will enable other changes, including:

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Citi Bike Releases Map of Williamsburg and Greenpoint Expansion

Here’s some eye candy for the weekend — a map of Citi Bike’s expansion into northern Brooklyn.

This map was submitted to Community Board 1 and obtained by the Brooklyn Paper. There are 53 stations planned for Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Unlike the Citi Bike phase two expansion areas in Manhattan and Queens, which are starting from scratch, these station locations were determined during the initial bike-share siting process, prior to the 2013 launch. Basically, this is where stations in these neighborhoods were supposed to go before the program was beset by Hurricane Sandy and software problems.

It looks like about half the stations will be on sidewalks. While siting guidelines generally rule out sidewalk locations that put a squeeze on pedestrian traffic, it would be better if decisions weren’t filtered through the parking preservation board.

Regardless, after a two year wait this map is another sign that the Citi Bike expansion is happening. These stations are expected to come online sometime in 2015.