Can’t Wait for Bike-Share? Tide Yourself Over With Citi Bike Marketing

A reader sends in this sign of the impending arrival of New York City bike-share, currently scheduled to launch in May. This text ad is running at the top of some Gmail accounts, with a rotating tag line. Our source says the others include:

  • “Unlock New York City with Citi Bike”
  • “Citi Bike makes moving around the city faster and easier”
  • A mention of the lack of city subsidies for the program (exact phrasing unspecified)

I haven’t seen the one about Citi Bike funding itself, but it seems like the ones about exploration, freedom, and convenient mobility are winning messages. Thoughts?

  • Jonathan Rabinowitz

    I thought the intent of the bike-share program was to make boat-anchor type bikes available to the part of the general public that wished to travel at a slow and stately pace, not “faster and easier.” Glad to know I was wrong! Also, does “Unlock New York City” mean that they will have City Bike available throughout all five boroughs?

  • d_c_r

    I rode a CitBike today, from one edge of the Brooklyn Navy Yard to another . . . 

  • Anonymous

    “Unlock New York” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as the “Uncork New York” slogan used by NYS wine producers, but I guess any marketing for this is good marketing.

  • Guest

    @google-eef301554c27cc8ed15647362dd9f850:disqus In this city “faster” is relative. Pedaling these heavy bikes will probably wind up being faster than most crosstown bus or taxi trips.

  • Guest

    @69491335a8b74b169bfbe47c8b4929d0:disqus Actually, the CitiBike I rode moved pretty quickly. The problem was the brakes. Like Vélib in Paris, the brakes are very unresponsive. Smart riders will take ride them slowly just because they’re

  • d_c_r

    [Sorry, Disqus error.] Actually, the CitiBike I rode moved pretty quickly. The problem was the
    brakes. Like Vélib in Paris, the brakes are very unresponsive. Smart
    riders will take ride them slowly just because they don’t seem safe at faster speeds.

  • Joe R.

    @google-eef301554c27cc8ed15647362dd9f850:disqus The Citibikes are very slow by bicycle standards, but still a lot faster and easier than walking. I’m sure a person in average shape can manage to pedal a Citibike at perhaps 10 mph. This is at least three times faster than they can walk. It’s also about twice the speed of a fast walker (like me).

    A good rule of thumb is a person can travel 3 to 5 times as fast by bike as they can by walking. That rule of thumb seems to hold regardless of the person’s physical condition. I walk at about 4.5 mph and typically travel at 18 to 23 mph on my Titanium Airborne (4 to 5 times my normal walking pace). The average person who walks at around 3 mph will probably do about 10 to 12 mph on a bike, maybe 15 mph on a really good bike.

    Unfortunately, City Bikes will initially only be available in a small part of the city (i.e. Manhattan and the parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx closest to Manhattan. It’ll be a while, maybe never, before they come to the outermost parts of the outer boroughs.

  • Moser

    I’ve been on these bikes a fair amount in Washington, London and New York (all same make of share-bike) and have no idea what you’re talking about re: bad brakes. 

  • d_c_r

    @c3ada303f47cce9fec78f074271108eb:disqus You’ve ridden CitiBike in New York and  Vélib in Paris?

  • Moser

    No, I didn’t say Paris – Citibike yes.

  • d_c_r

    @c3ada303f47cce9fec78f074271108eb:disqus Then perhaps that’s why you have no idea what I’m talking about? I rode plenty of Paris bikes and the brakes were consistently awful. The CitiBike I rode today had similarly terrible brakes–very unresponsive. That you have “no idea what I’m talking about” does not actually change that.

  • Mike

    Just got the “Citi sponsors the first bike share program not funded by taxpayers” ad.

  • Moser

    Who cares about the Paris bikes?   The bikes here are a different make (in use in Washington, London, Boston, Montreal etc) and over dozens of rides I have noticed nothing special about the brakes except that they work great in the rain as well as dry conditions because they are drum brakes internal to the hubs. 

  • @0107a2f554a9a51d2bd3e6502a8f53cb:disqus Maybe the bike you tested out needed a tune-up. The Bixi bikes I’ve ridden in DC had very responsive brakes.

  • d_c_r

    @BenFried:disqus Seems very likely. But the responsibility for keeping them in good shape is CitiBike’s. And if they’re running a tiny pilot program and they can’t keep that tiny pilot program’s bikes in good shape . . . I’m still going to recommend caution.

  • Nick Casey

    I live in DC where we use the same bikes. I’ve had some issues with the brakes a couple times but that’s it. The bikes are great. I hope that eventually the insert keys will work in every bixi city. It would be great to be able to use it while traveling. Lord knows a lot of people travel between DC, NYC and the other bixi cities.

  • Guest

    I’ve been in Paris for a total of about 4 months since Velib started, probably averaging 10 trips a week. The only time I ever had an issue with the brakes was once, when the brakes were physically damaged.  Every other time they worked perfectly.

  • @c3ada303f47cce9fec78f074271108eb:disqus  the bike I rode in DC had terrible brakes. Youd be hard pressed to stop going up hill. Slight slopes were terrifying.

  • Jkspinning

    I’d like some brakes like that on my bike.

  • Brian Geraghty

    For any bike share, keeping every bike in tip top shape is a daunting task. I think a lot of it relies on public feedback. Establishing smooth channels of communication between users and CitiBike will be one of their challenges, especially in a town where people are always in such a rush (sorry for the stereotype). I think they realize this and are up to the task, however.

  • Brian Geraghty

    For any bike share, keeping every bike in tip top shape is a daunting task. I think a lot of it relies on public feedback. Establishing smooth channels of communication between users and CitiBike will be one of their challenges, especially in a town where people are always in such a rush (sorry for the stereotype). I think they realize this and are up to the task, however.

  • Nick Casey

    You just turn the bike seat backwards to indicate that something is messed up with it. Then the crews will take care of it.

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