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Posts from the Bike Sharing Category

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Citi Bike Will Expand Uptown With Its Too-Sparse Station Network

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The bike-share map for Community Board 11, via DOT. Click to enlarge.

The good news: Citi Bike is expanding up to 130th Street later this year.

The bad news: Stations in Morningside, Harlem, and East Harlem are going to be more spread out than the bike-share network below 59th Street. As with last year’s additions to the bike-share network, the longer walking distances between stations will make these expansions less convenient for Citi Bike users and sap the overall effectiveness of the system.

DOT and Motivate, the company that runs Citi Bike, have been holding workshops and getting feedback online about where to site stations. Maps for three community board districts have now been released, and the station densities fall short of the 28 stations per square mile recommended by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

All together, the bike-share maps for Community Board 11 in East Harlem [PDF], Community Board 9 on the West Side [PDF], and Community Board 10 in central Harlem [PDF] equate to a density of a little below 23 stations per square mile. If you look at CB 9 and CB 11 separately, however, the stations are more sparse, in the range of 20-21 stations per square mile.

This is the second year of a three-year expansion phase that will eventually bring Citi Bike to more of Queens and Brooklyn as well. The agreement between DOT and Motivate didn’t require more than 378 new stations to serve the expansion zones, which works out to a lower station density than the original Citi Bike service area. Rumors have swirled that the two parties are close to amending the expansion process so stations are spaced together more tightly, but so far that doesn’t seem to be happening.

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Will Citi Bike Riders Get a More Convenient Network for Their Higher Fares?

Last week, the price of a Citi Bike annual membership rose from $149 to $155. It’s still a good deal for people who make more than a few bike-share trips per month, but taken in tandem with last year’s jump from $95, it’s also nothing to sneeze at. Will bike-share users get more for their money as fares rise?

Citi Bike says the higher fares will “offset costs of operating [a] larger, more robust network at the quality riders expect.” And it’s true that service improved dramatically last year while the number of stations grew 40 percent. The trouble is that Citi Bike stations are more spread out in the expansion zones (currently the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side) than in the original service area, because Motivate doesn’t want to supply a sufficient number of stations to cover all the turf DOT wants bike-share to serve.

This is a problem because bike-share doesn’t work as well when stations are spread farther apart. The longer you have to walk at either end of the bike trip, the less convenient it is to use bike-share. A more disperse network also means less redundancy — full or empty stations become bigger obstacles if another station isn’t nearby.

Word is that NYC DOT and Motivate are close to reaching an agreement that would lead to better station density throughout the expansion areas. Streetsblog reached out to both parties and was unable to confirm the rumor, however.

Unless something changes, the thin network will become a more pronounced weakness as Citi Bike expands northward in Manhattan and deeper into Queens and Brooklyn.

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Citi Bike Announces 4 Percent Increase in Annual Membership Fee

Could the relatively minimal increase in fees be a sign that things are starting to look up for Citi Bike? Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Citi Bike announced today that it will increase the cost of annual membership from $149 to $155, or 4 percent, effective March 1. The $60 annual fee for NYCHA residents will not change, nor will the option to pay for annual membership in monthly installments of $14.95. In an email to members, Citi Bike emphasized that annual subscribers will get access to a larger service area as hundreds of new stations come online.

This year’s price hike is much smaller than last year’s. When new ownership took over Citi Bike in 2014, a condition of the deal with the city was that the annual fee would rise from $95 to $149. The agreement also limited future price hikes, tying the maximum allowable increase to the rate of inflation.

Since then, Citi Bike reworked its software and hardware, refurbished its bike fleet, and expanded its reach, adding more than 100 stations in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. About 200 more stations will be added in the next two years.

The modest fee increase doesn’t tell us much about Citi Bike’s finances, but ridership and membership have been on the rebound after declining in 2014 and the first half of 2015. The number of active annual members fell to 80,885 last July, according to the company’s public data, then shot up to 91,901 by November.

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Bike-Share Open Data Standard Clears the Way for Better Trip Planning Apps

It’s about to get easier to plan trips that include bike-share.

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It’s about to get easier for developers of apps like Citymapper to incorporate bike-share data.

Yesterday, the North American Bikeshare Association, a trade group representing transportation agencies and private firms involved in operating bike-share systems, announced that it is adopting an open data standard. NABSA includes Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike, Divvy, Bay Area Bike Share, and several other systems in American cities.

The policy means that data about station locations and bike and dock availability will be much easier for software developers to incorporate into trip planning apps. Bike-share data will be released in the same format that transit agencies use, known as the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS).

Previously, variations between systems made the use of bike-share data a cumbersome, one-city-at-time process for developers. Motivate spokesperson Dani Simons said in an email that the open data platform clears the way for rapid integration of bike-share information by companies with huge user bases, like Google and Apple.

“Transit provides a standard data feed already,” she said, “which makes it easier for these bigger players to provide transit information to customers, which in turn makes it easier for an individual to decide to take the MTA or the Tokyo Metro or the Portland Max, even if they’re new to taking transit in New York, Tokyo or Portland. We want that same level of seamlessness and ease for bike share customers as well.”

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The Next Brooklyn Bike-Share Expansion Will Be the Thinnest Part of Citi Bike

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Citi Bike is coming to the neighborhoods west of Prospect Park, but the stations won’t be spaced conveniently close together. Map via NYC DOT. Click to enlarge.

DOT unveiled its latest Citi Bike expansion map last week, and the stations look significantly more spread out than stations in the rest of the system.

Spread-out stations are a problem for bike-share users because people have to walk farther to make trips, and that costs time. The National Association of City Transportation Officials recommends 28 stations per square mile — and the city’s contract with Citi Bike operator Motivate stipulates the same metric — but NYC DOT has been thinning out stations in its expansion zones. The city wants to cover the geographic area described in the bike-share contract, while Motivate doesn’t want to supply more than the 378 additional stations it’s required to. The result is a less effective system for everyone.

With 62 stations covering the 3.1 square miles of Brooklyn Community Board 6 — which includes Red Hook, Park Slope, and everything in between — the station density works out to 20 per square mile. As Citi Bike expands into Upper Manhattan, western Queens, and more of Brooklyn by 2017, these are the station densities New Yorkers can expect in the absence of a new strategy from DOT and/or Motivate.

DOT officials told the CB 6 committee that more stations can be added after the initial rollout. But it could be a long time before those gaps get filled in. When the current round of expansion wraps up in 2017, there will be a lot of ground to cover with infill stations plus huge pressure to keep expanding outward.

Ironically, the one thing Citi Bike had going for it consistently from the very beginning — a convenient network where a station was always a short walk away — is deteriorating just as everything else comes together. Citi Bike is finally on the rebound thanks to a thorough overhaul of its equipment and software. How long will the good times last if every expansion fails to deliver the convenience bike-share users have come to expect?

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Eyes on the Street: Children Play Mere Feet From Citi Bikes — The Horror!

Photo: Joe Enoch

The E. 82nd Street bike-share station, menace to playing children. Photo: Joe Enoch

Let’s take a moment to remember the fury of the Upper East Side parents who discovered last month that a bike-share station had begrimed the same block schoolchildren use for midday recess on E. 82nd Street near Second Avenue, next to P.S. 290.

Here are the fear-mongering quotes reported by DNAinfo:

“I’ve been here 12 years and it’s disgusting,” said Janine Whiteson, mother of a fifth grader at the school. “We have 650 kids, and most of them are really little. They could knock into the bikes or fall and hurt themselves. Who knows what kind of people will come in. It’s disgraceful.”

…”It is ridiculous to even consider putting it on a street that is already closed off for part of the day,” [parent Brian Feldman] said in an email. “Random people are going to be walking through the kids’ recess to get on and off bikes or riding their bikes through.”

…In protest of the new location, the PTA sent out an email to parents on Friday. “This is not in the best interest of the 650 children ages 4-11 that use the street for recess, drop-off and pick-up every day,” the email states. “The staff at P.S. 290 is not equipped to handle the additional burden of making sure that adults walk their bikes safely through the street while the children are using it. Imposing this responsibility on the staff will divert their attention from watching and engaging with the children.”

So how’s it going with the new station? Reader Joe Enoch was walking by the play street and saw the “disgusting” scene unfolding before his very eyes.

Chaos.

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Citi Bike Ridership Begins to Climb Out of Its Slump

Summer sales and ridership numbers show Citi Bike, at last, is on the rebound.

Let the good times roll: DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, left, and Motivate CEO Jay Walder, right. Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, left, and Motivate CEO Jay Walder, right. Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr

The bike-share program grew by leaps and bounds as New Yorkers embraced it immediately after the May 2013 launch, but before long, subscribers grew frustrated with unreliable service caused by buggy software and other operational problems. Sales and ridership slumped.

In fiscal year 2015, which ended June 30, Citi Bike annual memberships fell to 73,369, down 21 percent from the year before, according to the Mayor’s Management Report. The total number of trips also fell to 8.8 million, down from 9.4 million. City Hall attributed the declines to “harsh winter weather” and a jump in annual membership fees, from $95 to $149 last October.

Now, upgrades under new ownership — including back-end software fixes, a redesigned bike, a new docking mechanism, and app upgrades — appear to be paying dividends. Since July, ridership and subscriptions have been turning around. The size of the system has also been growing, but the positive trends predate the addition of stations.

In July, before stations were added, ridership hit a daily average of 35,960 trips, a 5 percent increase over July 2014. Citi Bike also sold more day and week passes this July than last July — a healthy sign.

Read more…

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Bike-Share Is Now Online in Jersey City

Citi Bike Jersey City launched today.

The Jersey City system is compatible with its NYC counterpart and has the same price structure. If you sign up for one system, you can use bikes in the other. The Jersey City network launched with 350 bikes and 35 docking stations.

There is a cluster of bike-share stations downtown in close proximity to PATH stations, and the rest are dispersed across city neighborhoods, with relatively long distances between them. Mayor Steve Fulop said the city asked Motivate to site the stations that way to “send a signal to the community that bike share is for everyone.” But it could backfire if users find the docks too spread out to be useful.

“It’s not very often that a city gets a completely new public transit system, a new way to enjoy the outdoors and stay active, and a new link to New York all at once, but that’s what we have today with Citi Bike,” Fulop said in a press release. “This is something that will connect every corner of the city. We have bike stations in every ward.”

As in NYC, Citi Bike Jersey City is funded by user fees and private sponsorships, without operating subsidies.

“Thanks to Mayor Fulop’s visionary leadership and the support of terrific sponsors, the Citi Bike program is now a seamless regional transportation network improving commutes on both sides of the Hudson,” said Jay Walder, Motivate president and CEO.

Read more…

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Mayor’s Report Card: Traffic Deaths Falling, But Policy a Mixed Bag

Each year, the City Charter requires the mayor to issue a report showing whether city agencies are meeting their goals. This year’s report card is a mixed bag for street safety, DOT, and NYPD. While fatalities are down, the direction of the enforcement and street design policies behind Vision Zero is less clear.

Moving violations are down overall, but up for the most dangerous violations. Yet cell phone tickets are in a free-fall. Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr

Moving violations are down overall, but up for “hazardous violations.” Photo: NYC DOT/Flickr

The document, called the Mayor’s Management Report, gathers data for each fiscal year. The latest edition covers fiscal year 2015, which ended June 30.

During that period, traffic fatalities declined 13 percent compared the year before, including a 20 percent drop for motor vehicle occupants and an 8 percent drop for pedestrians and cyclists. Only fiscal year 2011 saw fewer traffic deaths. (The report does not measure serious injuries, which are subject to less statistical noise than fatalities.)

NYPD issued 4 percent fewer traffic tickets last year, but 11 percent more summonses for “hazardous violations,” which include failing to yield to pedestrians, improper turns, double parking, and running red lights. Still, police issued slightly more hazardous violations in 2011 than last year [PDF].

Tickets for using a cell phone while driving fell 11 percent last year to 125,787, continuing a downward trend from a peak of 231,345 in 2010 [PDF]. Interestingly, the report says the “desired direction” for hazardous violations and cell phone summonses is “neutral” rather than “up.”

Moving violations issued by the Taxi and Limousine Commission to for-hire drivers jumped 113 percent last year to 10,738, and cell phone violations increased 25 percent to 5,690 tickets. At the same time, summonses for unlicensed for-hire operation fell 16 percent to 12,497 [PDF].

The police made 8,155 drunk driving arrests, down from the previous two years. Last year, 31 people died in DUI crashes, also down from the previous two years but up from 2011 and 2012.

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What Cities Are Learning About Making Bike-Share More Equitable

Cities are gaining more insight about how to make bike share work for the poor. Photo: NACTO

Cities are gaining more insight into how bike-share can be more useful and accessible to low-income people. Photo: NACTO

So far, the customer base of American bike-share systems has skewed toward affluent white men. But cities have been working to make the systems more useful and accessible to a broader spectrum of people, and in a new report, the National Association of City Transportation Officials has compiled some of the lessons learned.

Here are a few key takeaways:

The appeal of monthly membership plans

Photo: NACTO

Image: NACTO

The price of a full 12-month membership can be a barrier for some people. Providing the option of monthly passes or installment plans encourages people across all income levels to try bike-share, NACTO reports.

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