Bike-Share Goes Live at 11 – Don’t Forget to Activate Your Key

As of 8:15 a.m., the bikes on Howard Street by Streetsblog HQ were available to annual Citi Bike members. All stations will be turned on by 11 a.m. this morning. Photo: Ben Fried

Good morning on this momentous Monday. Shortly, workers with NYC Bike Share are going to turn on 330 or so public bike stations, giving New Yorkers access to a new transit network. At around 11 a.m., those stations should all be ready to release bikes to the 13,000 some-odd annual Citi Bike members who registered by May 17.

If you have a Citi Bike key and plan to use the system today, you’ll need to activate your account first. Here’s where you can do that. If you need help remembering your login, call the Citi Bike customer service line at 855-BIKE-311. Be prepared to wait a bit before you reach someone. My wife called for a login reminder yesterday, was on hold for seven minutes, then spoke to an amiable representative who helped her fill in the blanks.

Also, if you bought a membership by May 17 but have yet to receive your key in the mail, you can go to the south side of Union Square any time before 5 p.m. today to get a fob from NYC Bike Share.

Mayor Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan are holding a press conference in City Hall Park at 11:15 to cut the ribbon on Citi Bike. Stay tuned for our coverage of the event, plus dispatches from around the Citi Bike service area as New Yorkers try out bike-share in our city for the first time.

  • Ben Kintisch

    This morning at about 9 AM I saw a woman from DOT, decked out in a festive blue and white helmet and a bike share t-shirt, checking the bike docks located outside the Bed Stuy YMCA.

    Very happy the launch is on a vacation day. Otherwise I might have had to skip work!

  • Mike

    What’s the story with the slit above where the fob goes in? It sure looks like a credit card swipe reader. But aren’t all credit card transactions done at the kiosk?

  • Guest

    I believe that’s for day or week pass users. You sign up at the kiosk but then every subsequent time you pick up a bike you can just swipe the card you used to register for your pass at the dock. Not sure when that feature will be active.

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    T-minus 40 minutes and counting…

  • Anonymous

    Pointless personal grumble: I have a brutal deadline and will be inside working every single &#@!* second of this day. I won’t be able to take my first ride as a founding member until tomorrow. Oh devil-headed Fate, how I curse thee!

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    It’s here!

    sips coffee

    checks Mayan calender

    I’m still alive!!

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    It’s here!

    sips coffee

    checks Mayan calender

    I’m still alive!!

  • Stanley Greenberg

    Tried out two bikes in Boerum Hill and Fort Greene. Biggest surprise: two drivers told me I could only ride on streets that had bike lanes. They’re in for a rude awakening next week.

  • 12 blocks from a station

    now that NYC Bikeshare is a reality, let’s find a new name for the blue monsters. ‘ Mike’s Bikes’ is akin to Boris bikes in London.

    A bit wordly but I like ‘The Wrath of Khan Wheels’

  • Ian Turner

    Yes, I’ve had drivers call me out for biking on 7th avenue for that reason also. Makes you wonder why we even bother with driver licensing.

  • Anonymous

    Is it just me or the station map now shows exactly zero stations?

  • Joe R.

    This being NYC and the bikes being clunkers, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the term “Shitty Bikes” as a pun on Citi Bikes falls into common usage.

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    So according to these drivers, bike riding is illegal in nearly all of Queens because there is jack bike lanes here. I think we should all invest in T-shirts that have “Share the Road” on the back.

  • pk

    same here

  • pk

    same here

  • Mark Walker

    Smile and grin at the change all around.

  • Joe R.

    Surprisingly in all the years I’ve been riding around Queens I’ve only been told to get off the road a few times. Mostly it was stuff like “go ride in a park”. Apparently Queens drivers are a lot better educated than Manhattan or Brooklyn drivers. And the level of crankiness against bikes seems to be lower as well.

  • Ridgewoodian

    I suggested Mike Bike a while back. Been trying to come up with a good JSK one.

  • Ridgewoodian

    Took my first couple of trips this morning/afternoon. Some thoughts:

    * Adjust the seat before unlocking. Make sure it’s tight or it’ll slip.

    * The bikes are fairly heavy. I found it’s easier to get rolling in second speed then cruise, in third.

    * The bikes are fairly comfortable, at least for short distances. The upright riding position makes it easy to see and be seen.

    * People are climbing all over the bikes at Kipps Bay.

  • Ari

    Supposedly there’s a third-party app that’s working fine.

  • Anonymous

    @2a15ea2c09af9bca9fa0232039062265:disqus @88e0c64c631ee370f7e101a5822433b6:disqus Daily or weekly members enter a numeric code using the buttons to the right of the slit. A Citi Bike employee told me this morning that the long slit is used for card access by bike-share staff.

  • Greg

    My feedback:

    – Started off at Henry & Atlantic in Brooklyn Heights. *Immediately* got into a conversation with curious onlookers, who became my audience / cheerleaders while I unlocked my first bike (without a hitch).

    – I couldn’t adjust the seat on my first bike. At all. That was awkward, but otherwise I immediately felt this was a fantastic, response, easily rideable bike. It rode perfectly smoothly. It was very responsive. I had no issue building up a decent speed. It’s just a pleasure to ride.

    – There are clear bugs. Bug #1: at a kiosk, I selected “Find nearby stations” only to get a “we don’t have this information” error.

    – Bug #2: some of the stations are *not* online yet. I could not return my bike at Clinton & Aitken, Montague & Clinton, or State & Jay. The stations are completely non-responsive. You can tell by going up to the kiosk and seeing a blank screen. You also can’t check out bikes from these stations.

    – Bug #3: on dropping my bike off at Joralemon@Borough Hall, the light turned yellow, then stayed yellow indefinitely (but it *was* locked). I called customer support, waited 5+ minutes, then got the a-okay to carry on.

    – Everyone is *clearly* excited by this. I must have gotten into 12 conversations, half of them serious, with curious locals, annual membership locals, and curious tourists. Tons of people without annual passes wanted to check out bikes. Even the police by the detention center were checking it out; I let one lift my bike to test its sturdiness and he was impressed. I cannot overstate enough how much interest I’ve been finding by *everyone*. It’s amazing and a fantastic omen for what’s to come.

    And what a beautiful day to start.

  • Greg

    With GPS, I’d imagine they can track that down no problem.

  • Peter

    Rode UN to Battery Park and return via the East Side bikeway. Got into conversations with about 10 people along the route about how the bike handled, how convenient it was, etc. Lots of folks curious in the program – I think seeing people riding the bikes (and there are plenty of people out there riding Citibikes already) will get the fence-sitters to join in.

  • Daphna

    I’m glad you had a positive experience but those are some serious “bugs” you described. You described them clearly and concisely. It might be good to send an email to the contact emails for bikeshare and hope that the person receiving those emails will forward your message to the relevant technicians.

  • Seth

    I also experienced bug #3. When the yellow light stayed on and I never got the green, I tried checking out the bike again. It let me, and then I checked it back into the same spot and got the quick yellow-green. It’s a little strange that the long trip (with the unsuccessful check-in) doesn’t show up in the Trips section of the Citi Bike site, but the short check-out-and-back-in does.

  • Daphna

    Yes, citibikenyc map is down. You can use the DOT map instead to find station locations.
    It tells the location and the number of docks. It does not tell, though, if the station has been installed, if it is on, and how many bikes there are at each one.

  • Daphna

    Some stations have not been installed yet – not just that the stations are not active or do not have bikes yet – but the docks have not been put out. I noticed three missing stations but there are probably more. Missing:
    1) 7th Avenue and 31st Street
    2) 5th Avenue and 40th Street
    3) Broadway between 60th and 61st Street

    Penn Station serves 500,000 people a day!! It needs all three stations around it that are on the map! The non-installed station at 31st Street and 7th Avenue is supposed to have 59 docks. The other two stations by Penn Station have 51 and 67 docks. But considering there are 500,000 potential users, those additional 59 docks at the 3rd station are needed!!

    Bryant Park has no other docking stations around it so it needs the missing station at 40th Street and 5th Avenue!

    Does anyone know when more stations will be installed? These stations were supposed to be part of this initial phase of phase I. I hope they did not get cancelled due to NIMBYism.

  • Greg

    Thanks, Daphna. Email sent.

  • Greg

    My emails were responded to within minutes by officials who are actively paying attention and in positions to alert the right people.

    They are listening. Closely. Everyone, please share any issues you find. It’ll make a difference.

  • pk

    Re #2 — I was able to lock up firmly at one of those offline stations before realizing it was offline. But because the station was offline, the system still seems to think I have a bike out and I can’t get one out at any other station. The phone number dialed from the app didn’t work, and no one has responded to the email.

    I expected some hiccups on day 1, but this is a pretty pathetic launch. I suspect I’ll get a $1000 charge on my card for “losing” my bike.

    The highlight was running into many many enthusiastic people on the street. I’m trying to stay enthusiastic myself, even as I had to take the subway home.

  • Daphna

    Email and let them know about your experience with this system error. Greg posts that they are paying attention and responding.

  • Sunny

    According to this, which claims to be up to date, only 306 stations are running right now.

  • Its Alta, failure is expected. The launch was delayed a year because they won the bid promising successful third party software and then switched to in-house…which they have zero experience with.

  • Skeptic

    Wait until folks start getting hit with $1200 credit card charges because the untested software “lost” a bike.

  • Ari

    I was a station ambassador for a few hours today. A lot of non-annual members wanted to use the bikes (but were disappointed). That bodes well for the future.

  • Ridgewoodian

    Say, Ari maybe you can answer a question. I was trying to get a receipt for returning my bike. I clicked on Annual Membership on the kiosk. It asked me to insert my key. But I couldn’t figure out where to insert it. The credit card slot wasn’t the right size. There was a touch pad but that didn’t seem to do anything. Suddenly, by magic, I think, I was given the option of printing one of my last ten trips (I took four total today), which I did. But I couldn’t reproduce the result. Any ideas? Anyone?

  • Ridgewoodian

    I had a couple of converstaions with peopleon the corner of 6th and 13th. One was for it and will probably be signing up. An older lady thought it took away too many parking spaces. “But it adds so much capacity to the streets,” I said, “rather than wasting it with private cars that are just sitting there.” An older man was just against because….because he was against it. Then there was a middle aged man who said he lived in the infamous building where it took an hour for the paramedics to get the elderly man out, and to have witnesed the incident. This isn’t verbatum but this is sort of the gist of our converstaion:

    ME: How did it take an hour?

    MIDDLE AGED MAN: It didn’t take an hour.

    ME: It was reported in the POST that it took an hour.

    OLDER LADY: You believe the POST?

    ME: No, but that’s what was reported. And the FDNY confirmed that that WASN’T true.

    MIDDLE AGED MAN: Well, of course THEY would. It’s a barricade. How are people supposed to get to Access A Ride?

    ME: Um, the same way people always have who haven’t been lucky enough to have a no parking zone in front of their building. Ambulances the same.

    MIDDLE AGED MAN: Well what are we going to do when there are mountains of garbage stacked up like Everest behind these things? You can’t get through these bikes.

    ME: There are more docks than bikes. There’s probably going to be one or two open when they come to collect the trash. You can get through those quite easily.

    MIDDLE AGED MAN: What if there aren’t any open?

    ME: Just heave it over, it’s not that far.

    MIDDLE AGED MAN: Oh, yeah, try doing that all day. That’ll be good for your back.

    ME: Well, they are New York City’s Strongest. And if it’s a real problem, have them negotiate better benefits or something in their next contract. But, you know, I rode the DC BikeShare a couple of months ago and there was no problem. No mounds of trash. They have it figured out; why can’t we?

    The middle aged man then talked a long time about Bloomberg being a dictator and them siting these things wherever the hell they wanted with no input from the community, and to hell with everybody.

    ME: But you haven’t answered my question – this has been done in other places succesfully; why shouldn’t we think it’s going to be a success here? I bet it’s going to be.

    MIDDLE AGED MAN: It might be. But whether it’s a success or not isn’t the only thing that matters.

    At that we both realized that we had nothing more to say to each other.

  • I really just can’t listen to people who complain about this because I’m mad that it’s not going to go far enough uptown to be of any use to people who live and work in Upper Manhattan, The Bronx or most of Queens. It’s like listening to someone complain about having too much money.

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    That’s true, Queens drivers are the better of the 5 boros in my opinion. Not the best, just better. Other than the arterial thoroughfares (ie Queens Blvd) I’ve never had trouble in side streets since most streets are residential. And less stressful too. I think it’s because Queens streets tend to be wider and there is less of a jockeying for space as compared to more narrow neighborhoods elsewhere.

  • Ridgewoodian

    As you might guess, I live in Ridgewood. Queens, that is, not New Jersey. I went to a community meeting a few weeks ago to talk about the possibility of getting some BIKE LANES in the neighborhood. Yeah, we’re still dealing with that. Of course, as I said to the local press, I’m so far beyond bike lanes, which should be a given at this point, I want bike share out there. No, I wouldn’t commute in on a CitiBike, I have my own for that, but I sure would use it for zipping around the neighborhood. One of the first things we were told was there are no plans to bring it out there. But, hopefully, that will change as it succeeds in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

  • KeNYC2030

    Sadik Cycles?

  • Bronxite

    I don’t see the purpose in stealing one, minus a quick joyride. These would be a PITA to store and most private bikes perform as well or better (combined with being lighter and quicker). They are good as bike share bikes (durable, simple to use), but that’s about it.

    Oh, and they come complete with an integrated GPS tracking device and non-interchangeable parts.


You Can Now Subscribe to Citi Bike

A big announcement is coming later this morning, but the news is all over Twitter: You can now buy a Citi Bike annual membership. Citi Bike membership registration is OPEN! Just signed up for my @citibikenyc key. Here’s the link > #bikenyc — susi wunsch (@velojoy) April 15, 2013 An annual subscription is $95 […]

Early Adopters Take NYC Bike-Share for a Spin

Today, New Yorkers turned out under sunny skies to try out bike-share for the first time. Citi Bike went live at 11:00 a.m., but a few New Yorkers discovered that their keys were working at some stations before the official start time this morning. By noon, it was easy to spot people pedaling bright blue bikes […]

The 2013 NYC Streetsies, Part 1

The Streetsie votes are in and it’s time to hand out virtual hardware. But first, a friendly reminder that Streetsblog needs your support. Reader donations are what Streetsblog runs on. Contribute to our year-end pledge drive and you’ll help produce reporting and commentary that makes a difference, so that when this time rolls around next year, […]

Why Aren’t American Bike-Share Systems Living Up to Their Potential?

As policy director at the New York City Department of Transportation from 2007 to June, 2014, Jon Orcutt shepherded the nation’s largest bike-share system through the earliest stages of planning, a wide-ranging public engagement process, and, last year, the rollout of hundreds of Citi Bike stations. That makes Orcutt, formerly of Transportation Alternatives and the Tri-State Transportation […]

Judge Rejects Plaza Hotel’s Citi Bike Lawsuit

It was fun while it lasted, but the era of NIMBY lawsuits against NYC bike-share stations has now run its course. Today a Manhattan judge rejected the Plaza Hotel’s suit seeking to remove the Citi Bike station across the street from its entrance. This marks the final court decision regarding the four lawsuits challenging bike-share […]