Sadik-Khan, Wolfson Invite New Yorkers to Sign Up for Bike-Share

Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan hold a giant Citi Bike key this morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

In 2009, the Department of City Planning released an ambitious blueprint for bike-share in New York, and in 2011, the Department of Transportation began an extensive public process to site actual bike-share stations. Now the planning is giving way to implementation, with North America’s largest year-round bike-share system set to launch in May. Today, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson marked an important milestone: New Yorkers can now sign up for annual bike-share memberships.

Annual membership sign-ups have been open since early this morning, and more than 2,500 people have already subscribed at the rate of about $103 per year (including tax), which entitles users to unlimited rides up to 45 minutes long.

The other big news from DOT today is that the system will be launching with 6,000 bikes at 330 stations, about 10 percent larger than the most recent launch plan. It looks like damage from Hurricane Sandy won’t impede the rollout of the system as much as originally thought.

Approximately 60 stations are already on the ground, and the system will launch in May, though Sadik-Khan didn’t specify a date. For the first week of operation, Citi Bike will be open exclusively to annual members; after that, 24-hour and seven-day passes will be sold at bike-share stations.

Sadik-Khan also announced a few perks for the first 5,000 people to sign up, including blue-colored “founding member” keys, discounts on certain brands of bike helmets, and a free 24-hour membership pass to share with a friend. Additionally, the first 500 members will be invited to the launch ride, when bikes will be distributed to stations across the service area on the system’s first day of operation.

“Bike helmets,” Sadik-Khan said, “will be as common a New York City accessory as an umbrella or sunglasses.” Later, the commissioner pushed back against a reporter’s question about requiring helmets to use bike-share. “No successful system in the world mandates bike helmets,” she said. In fact, Melbourne’s bike-share program has been crippled by a compulsory helmet law, and proposals for such a law in New York have gone nowhere.

Another reporter asked for Sadik-Khan’s reaction to complaints about station siting. The commissioner reminded the press of DOT’s extensive station planning process, which involved thousands of New Yorkers and hundreds of community meetings over the past two years.

Wolfson and Sadik-Khan ride Citi Bikes this morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

Reporters at today’s press conference posed a lot of questions about the smaller footprint compared to the implementation plan announced last spring, as well as the program’s delays, caused by Hurricane Sandy and software troubles.

Wolfson took the long view. “It will be an enormously successful program,” he said. “No one will remember that it could’ve been in March as opposed to May.”

While DOT isn’t providing projections for anticipated Citi Bike usage, Sadik-Khan noted that Capital Bikeshare in Washington, DC, set a one-day record of 11,368 rides over the weekend, and Wolfson said New York will quickly pass those numbers. “We will significantly outstrip any other city in the country in terms of usage,” he said.

Half of NYC trips, Sadik-Khan noted, clock in at under two miles, making bike-share a good option for many of those journeys, as well as for connecting to bus and subway service.

“New Yorkers have an enormous number of choices in how they get around,” Wolfson added. “And now New Yorkers will have another choice.”

After the press conference, Sadik-Khan and Wolfson decided to take the bikes for a spin in front of the cameras. After unlocking the bike with her key fob, the commissioner tried to pull the bike from the dock by its handlebars, before an aide stepped over and reminded the commissioner that the easiest way to take out a bike is by slightly lifting it by the rear wheel. In a few weeks, thousands of New Yorkers will be getting familiar with the system in the same way.

“The wait is almost over,” Sadik-Khan said.

  • Ben Kintisch

    At lunch time, I was member 1928. Signed up my wife just now, at 4:48 PM, and we are up to 3217. That’s a big first day.

  • Anonymous

    Really excited to see waves of blue rolling along our streets soon!

  • They charge tax on this? Doesnt make sense….

  • Wassup Doc

    Well, these numbers are coming from the NYCDOT, so they are certainly tweaked, if not outright fabricated.

  • Bronxite

    With 3,000+ users on day one, have they hit their goal. Better question, will there be enough bikes?

  • Bronxite

    Correction, almost 4,000 now. I just signed up. Seems like a useful way to get cross town in Manhattan (Until it gets to me, phase 3)

  • Anonymous

    Actually no. These numbers are based on people reporting their membership IDs. Of cours, the membership ID need not correspond to the user number, and it may be skipping IDs, but that seems highly unlikely.

  • Bronxite

    Facebook site reported 2,500 members 5 hours ago. I just signed up, over 3,600 members so far. With 6,000 bikes included in Phase 1, I would consider this a success. Might have to roll those 100,000 a little quicker.

  • Yes there will. I believe DC has over 25,000 members and a smaller system.

  • Bronxite

    Good to know. Eager for this to open up around my way (East Bronx, Phase 3 area) but I’ll be using it downtown to get around rather then cabs/bus/shuttle. Glad to be a first adopter and encourage growth.

  • Anonymous

    I do think CitiBike has the potential to be far more successful than even DOT imagines.

    However, we still haven’t had a single ride by the public, and there is a LOT that can still go wrong. I am not celebrating just yet.

    What this does show however, is that there is quite tremendous pent up interest in NYC for something like Bike Share. And we haven’t even tapped into the casual rider market yet.

  • Anonymous

    I’m in too! Very happy to see this coming to fruition.

  • Bronxite

    Of course, my biggest worry are timely further phases. I live in a phase 3 area and will use it daily to access the train station, which is one mile from where I live (East Bronx). Right now I’ll be using this for crosstown trips when I’m downtown. BTW, according to another poster on Streetsblog; 3726 members at 9:25pm. Latest I’ve seen.

  • Anonymous

    Do you know where we can find information about future phase plans? Although I do expect those plans to be extremely volatile, since they will have to adjust it based on reception and usage.

  • Anonymous

    It is supposed to be completely unsubsidized.

  • Does the annual membership last a year from when you buy it, or from when there are bicycles available to ride?

  • Bronxite
  • Right, but we dont pay taxes on bridge tolls or subway fares.

  • When you first use your nob

  • kevd

    Bridges, tunnels and the subway are not completely owned and operated by private, for-profit companies.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    I agree that it seems a little silly to charge tax on this. But I think it was smart to do that. I for one was not interested in hearing the whining coming from the NIMBY Brooklynites about how it was being heavily subsidized because the govt was not charging the annual $8 in tax, while those guys parked for free in a city with amongst the most expensive real estate in the world, and drove across bridges and tunnels which they don’t pay a dime for.

  • vnm

    We do pay taxes on car share – at least on zipcar rentals.

  • Anonymous

    Just signed up. #4321.

  • Clarke

    Add in viable crosstown lanes in Midtown and it’ll be golden.

  • moocow

    Over 4k!
    And cool number Josh.

  • 2902, Does the planned station map look smaller than what was announced before last summers non launch?

  • nvm, if you read articles you get information!

  • Ari

    Bike Share will be a huge success blah, blah, blah.

    26 comments and no one has mentioned Janette riding a Citibike in a black leather mini skirt. Hottest. Commissioner. Ever.

  • Anonymous

    Cool. Even though I ride my bike to work I will still likely sign up and use it since it should be so easier for short errands during the day so I don’t have to get my bike out of the building and then worry about locking it up somewhere. A station is supposed to be installed right in front.

    I hope this will be a small revolution 🙂 Perhaps it’ll get more people to ride and increase our numbers and lead to better safety and recognition of bikes. I just worry that people will ride like zombies. Salmoning is already a big problem.

  • Anonymous

    Member ID: 4814. I wonder how many will sign up by the end of the day?

  • Anonymous

    Read their FAQs: from the moment you activate the key. You need to activate the key before using it.

  • I am sooooo envious. I want to sign up, and I live 3000 miles away.

  • Joe R.

    Nice except for that hideous polka dot helmet. I get it that public officials need to wear helmets for photo-ops or the media will be all over them, but why not a helmet matching the outfit? It would be nice if you could just go helmetless in these photo-ops. I suppose the time for that will come once large numbers of people, mostly without helmets, are using bike share.

  • Hank Green

    Once one person says how sexy she is, sometime else will be there to say that she shouldn’t use protection. Let her ride any way she wants to.

  • Anonymous

    Imagine all the closet space that she’d need to have a helmet to match each outfit!

  • Anonymous

    Forget about JSK! Look at Wolfson’s suit. Hottest. Deputy Mayor. Ever.

  • Brad Aaron

    Bike helmets are like socks. All the better if they don’t match what else you’re wearing.

  • Anonymous

    And like socks, helmets can get smelly…

  • The pricing seems a bit silly. For the year is ok, but the weekly plan should be for monthly IMHO. And, why not monthly? Also, I am curious what do you do if you don’t find a parking spot? Anyway, I pay 20$ a month for parking and ride as much as I want. This is nice, but we also need a lot more regular racks, as it is, the delivery guys have most of them taken.

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