Bike-Share Already Getting More Use Than Park Slope’s Free Parking Spots

Citi Bike is getting a lot of use in Park Slope. Image: Viktor Geller
Citi Bike use is high and rising in Park Slope. Image: Viktor Geller

The new bike-share stations in Brooklyn south of Atlantic Avenue are getting a lot more use than your average free on-street parking space, according to recent Citi Bike data compiled by Carroll Gardens resident Viktor Geller [PDF]. Geller addressed the report to Brooklyn Community Board 6, which is holding a hearing on Thursday in response to complaints about bike-share stations replacing curbside car parking.

Citi Bike and DOT publish usage data online each month. In the neighborhoods in CB 6, stations were just installed this summer, and Geller’s data shows usage is still on the rise.

Stations in some neighborhoods are used more intensely than others. In Park Slope, it’s typical for two or three bike-share trips to begin or end at each dock each day. In Red Hook, the average is lower — more like one bike-share “event” at each dock per day. But even so, since each car parking space is equivalent to about eight bike-share docks, that means about eight bike-share trips either begin or end each day in the space one car would occupy — and that’s in the area with the least amount of use.

We don’t have an apples-to-apples comparison with car parking, but DOT did track on-street parking turnover in Park Slope in 2007 and 2008. In some locations DOT observed, nearly three-quarters of parked cars were not moved between between 2 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. the following day. In other locations, about a quarter were not moved.

Let’s be generous and assume that on average, a free parking space turns over twice per day. That’s four “events” (two departures and two arrivals) — or about half as much turnover as typical bike-share stations in the least active area of CB 6. The difference is even more stark in Park Slope, where Citi Bike stations are used for at least four to six times the number of trips that free parking spots would be.

Mayor de Blasio has suggested that bike-share stations which are not “well-used” may be moved or adjusted. But compared to free on-street car parking, just about every bike-share station is well-used.

  • jooltman

    Given that many docks in this service area are empty most of the day due to inability to keep up with demand, we can only imagine what the true number of Events per Dock per Day would be if there was always a bike when someone wanted one.

  • I strongly advise someone to print this post and bring it to the Brooklyn CB6 Citi Bike Hearing on 10/20. I suspect the night will be heavy on anecdotes and light on data.

  • Adamlaw

    So true. This morning I arrived at CB station in Prospect Park at 15th Street at about 9:30 a.m. and not only were there no bikes there, there were not bikes at any CB station within an approximate 15 block radius including the entire Prospect Park and PPW stations. I immediate ran into another bike share member who remarked that he had to take the subway instead and was bummed.

  • Unfair Square

    Yeah but this comparison is so unfair. So unfair. Because cars are different. Because cars need more space. So it is unfair. I deserve my parking spot because this is unfair. It is like apples to oranges. You wouldn’t eat an apple when you want an orange, would you? Same thing here. I want my parking space. I don’t care if dozens more could use it with bikes. Using bikes, that’s just unfair!

  • That is very generous. I doubt that the average free space turns over twice per day or even twice per week.

  • ahwr

    Let’s be generous and assume that on average, a free parking space turns over twice per day. That’s four “events” (two departures and two arrivals) — or about half as much turnover as typical bike-share stations in the least active area of CB 6.

    CB6 is more than just park slope. Red hook has stations that are used less often than the least used park slope stations. Person trips is a better metric than ‘events’. A bikeshare event is different from a car event. Each bikeshare event is half a person trip. A car trip can be more than half a person trip since average occupancy is greater than 1. And 6.5 bike docks per parking space is a better estimate than 8.

  • lifehighlights

    Can we have Bike Share extended to Rego Park, Forrest Hills, and Kew Gardens in Queens please?

  • Larry Littlefield

    And of course, there is alternate side to explain some of that. I’d say for three drivers we use the car three times a week. It’s only there because we already have it, and because the price of rental cars and Zipcars has gone so high in Brooklyn since they all merged into three companies.

  • netizen

    Considering the huge mess the bike lane additions on Queens Blvd caused around Elmhurst/Rego Park, this is the least that could be done.

  • Vooch

    free car storage spots turnover less than 4 times per week.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    I don’t think the companies are to blame. Even at JFK the prices are much more reasonable (but you have to do a round trip to JFK just to get the car), and pretty much anywhere else in the country they’re even cheaper.

  • benbensons

    Empty stations mean nobody’s bringing the bikes back to these areas, which is a common commuting pattern for bike share stations.

  • KeNYC2030

    Does this mean that Mayor de Blasio will start re-purposing or charging for all those underused free car parking spaces?

  • As the post states, the “least active area of CB 6” is Red Hook, not Park Slope.

    Average car occupancy in NY region is about 1.6, which isn’t high enough to make up for the huge spatial efficiency advantage of bike-share.

    According to NACTO’s bike-share station siting guide, in a standard configuration — the type they usually put in curb lanes — 16 docks and a kiosk fit into 40 feet of curb space, or two parking spaces. Since each station only has one kiosk and the stations in CB 6 are larger than 16 docks, they’re probably fitting a little more than 8 docks per parking space, on average.

  • JudenChino

    Yah, why does it cost so much to rent a car in Brooklyn? It’s like insanely expensive. Like, $100/day for a piece of shit.

  • ohnonononono

    Is there any evidence that stations have ever been moved due to lack of use? It seems to be that when they’re moved it’s because of NIMBY complaints, not lack of popularity by CitiBike users…

  • Vooch

    demand is concentrated on weekends

  • HamTech87

    So true. My friend texted me a pic of the empty dock near him in Cobble Hill at lunchtime on a weekday afternoon.

  • Wilfried84

    Bike balancing is a perennial issue with bike share. It’s very difficult, and expensive, to manage empty stations in one area, and full stations in another, when there is a massive movement of bikes in one direction, as during rush hour. They also have to balance the number of bikes vs. the number of docks. Too many bikes in the system can cause problems as much as too few. Too many bikes, and it becomes harder to find parking.

  • Wow. Given that, it’s better to use car2go for $15 per hour.

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