Citi Bike Membership Surges Past 20,000 — Smell the Desperation at the Post

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That acrid scent wafting from the News Corp. Building is flop sweat pouring off Col Allan and the New York Post editors as they watch tens of thousands of New Yorkers start using the city’s new bike-share system.

As of this morning, 20,000 people had purchased annual Citi Bike memberships, an increase of more than 4,000 since the system launched Monday morning. Membership is on pace to eclipse Washington DC’s Capital Bikeshare (about 34,000 annual subscribers, currently the most of any American bike-share system) in a matter of days.

The membership and ridership numbers coming out of the Citi Bike system are going to make it harder for the tabloids to keep on running stories that frame cycling as niche transportation that “real New Yorkers” don’t use. Not that the Post will stop trying.

Their interim strategy seems to be convincing readers that bike-share isn’t worth signing up for. But even today’s feature on opening week glitches has a whiff of desperation to it. One of the inconvenienced bike-share users who made the Post’s final cut had to walk all of two blocks before finding an operable station:

Another rider said that the docking station near his Brooklyn Heights subway wasn’t operable — and there was no sign indicating as much.

So he schlepped himself two blocks to another station.

That’s the great thing about having a dense network of bike-share stations. If you’re foiled at one, there’s probably another one two blocks away. What a schlep!

  • Marcus Woollen

    I enjoyed Pat Kiernan this morning on his “In the Papers” segment – even he’s over The Post’s ridiculous coverage: around 6:15 into the segment – his takeaway, “It’s starting to get silly, the extent of the one-sided coverage in The Post.”

  • Mike

    I don’t think the Post is bothered at all by Citibike’s success. All they are doing is trying to sell papers/get page views. If bashing bike share does this, they’ll keep bashing. And, Streetsblog will keep linking to the bashing, which helps the Post achieve its goal.

  • To paraphrase Lyndon Johnson, “If you’ve lost Pat Kiernan, you’ve lost New York.”

  • Anonymous

    So I rode my bike to work today from Queens to FiDi (between 12:30-1:30pm) and only saw 1 Citibike rider throughout.

    Was a little disappointing to be honest. I hope that was just the time, and not a sign of a slowdown after the initial hoopla.

  • Stacy Walsh Rosenstock

    Granted we’re still in the first week but I think the most interesting aspect to BikeShare is how uneventful it’s been. I did see one guy run a red light but the vast majority have been people dressed either casually, or in business attire, riding responsibly in bike lanes, with traffic, and wearing helmets. The few “irresponsible” cyclists who annoy everyone by riding on the sidewalk or against traffic weren’t on CitiBikes. If it keeps up like this BikeSharers could wind up setting an example for good cycling.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t get it. All these biking “supporters” keep linking to the Post all over twitter and their blogs.

    At least have the sense to not place a link, and to copy/paste the text, instead of sending readers their way and increasing their PageRank. The Post laughs all teh way to the bank with each blog post calling them out as idiots.

  • Anonymous

    I did the same around 9am (to Hudson St). I saw one at 54th and 8th, then another eight on the Hudson Greenway between 55th and Canal, then another four or five in the Hudson Square area (near the Hudson/Houston rack). The rack at Carmine/Bleecker only had two bikes left when I just walked by.

  • Trust me, running anti-bike linkbait every day is not a viable business model.

  • kevd

    3 of the 13 bikes I saw on the Manhattan bridge this morning were Citi Bikes.

  • M to the I

    Those scofflaws at the Post. A Post delivery van was parked in the protected bicycle lane on 1st Avenue this morning. I knew I should have taken a picture to shove it in their faces how all their drivers are self-righteous jerks who never follow the rules.

  • Anonymous

    As the Streetsblog admins can confirm, the market rate for pageviews is pretty low in this economy. If the Post really is desperate enough to need the clicks, it is circling the drain.

  • Anonymous

    Found this book from another place on the internet today. An illustrated guide to the latest tech in velocipedes from 1869 –

    Checkout page 8:

    “At a later date M. Dreuze made an improvement on this invention, which met with some success as a toy. A number of these machines were constructed after his model, and distributed among country post-men, who used the novelty for a time, until a heavy fall of snow rendered them unserviceable, when they were abandoned, greatly to the gratification of a conservative class, who detesting anything in the way of innovation, had prophesied their failure”

    Irrational NIMBY bike hate is literally as old as the civil war.

  • Anonymous

    I took my first test ride downtown during my lunch break today. I didn’t see other Bike Share riders; but I did wind up fielding a lot of questions from interested onlookers — including one guy on a motorcycle.

    And the bike was just fine, no heavier than my own mountain bike. I had a little bit of trouble docking it; it took me a few attempts to do that. The only small problem I had was with the seat; unlike most riders, I prefer a seat that is sloped upwards. This seat was more-or-less straight horizontal, which gave me the sensation that I was slipping forward. But that’s a quibble. Overall, I’d say that the bike handled great and was comfortable.

    Also, I must say that I felt an even greater impetus to act responsibly while using a Bike Share bike than I usually do — and that’s saying something, because I treat every ride as though I am part of the face of bicycling to a hostile general public. But there are some little bendings of the rules which even I would normally do on my own bike, but which I found myself unwilling to do while riding a Bike Share bike.

    For instance, I was going west on Worth St. between Lafayette St. and Broadway; and, because of the red light at Broadway, there was a line of cars backed up almost the whole block. But, of course, there was room for a bike on the far right. As I was going west and passing the stopped cars, I came to the parking garage on the north side of the street. There was a car that was half-way pulled out of the garage, its front wheels in the street, its back wheels still on sidewalk.

    Normally, I would have gone around the back of that car (which would have meant going onto the sidewalk for a few feet) and continued west. But I found myself unwilling to go onto the sidewalk for even a second while riding a Bike Share bike. So I was ever more conscious of my “bike amabassador” responsibility.

  • Joe R.

    Despite what the papers had predicted, I doubt you’re going to see much in the way of carnage at the hands of bike share users. It seems like most of the users are people who aren’t in a big hurry, and aren’t going all that far. The average trip looks to be a bit over 2 miles going by their data so far. Riding on the bleeding edge, versus riding civilly, will at best save you a few minutes on a trip that short. Totally not worth it, and the bike share users already know it. Besides, those bikes aren’t exactly Tour de France material. They are what are-heavy, sturdy machines designed for riding in the urban core, not for getting from point A to point B in the minimum amount of time possible.

  • Joe R.

    For what it’s worth, a lot of things which were originally toys for the rich, and despised by the working class, were eventually embraced once they were made more practical. That includes bicycles, and later on, automobiles. By the 1890s bicycles were affordable by the middle class, and quite popular. Indeed, if not for Henry Ford, they probably never would have fallen off the radar as the short distance transportation of choice for most people.

  • Anxiously Awaiting Bikeshare

    Just took a quick break from work to grab a cup of coffee. I normally go across the street as the best coffee shop in the area is an 8 minute walk, but now I see it as a 2 minute bike share. (Both my office and my preferred coffee shop are bike share adjacent). The docking procedure is so quick and easy that it allows me to go to my preferred coffee shop.

    As I was docking my bike on the return leg, I overhear a gentleman in his 50s who was watching my 2 second docking routine go “wow, that was easy” then “did you see how easy that was guys” to his three colleagues.

    No matter what is printed in the tabloids, people will continue to see with their own eyes how simple, fast and efficient the system is to use.

  • Anonymous

    I guess a lot of annual members who signed up without seeing the system in operation were probably people who already bike a bit (for example, I started biking to work months before CitiBike, and continue to use my personal bike, but still signed up).

    I think this will be more interesting once the daily passes open up, and non-bicycling folks can try it for $10, and then sign up for an annual pass. I expect to see CitiBike usage numbers to rise then.

  • kevd

    I think you are probably right on all points.
    I would sign up if it extended to my neighborhood.

  • vnm

    The Post thinks they’re selling papers. They’re actually selling Citi Bike subscriptions. The more they write about Citi Bike, the more people seem to be signing up for Citi Bike. I say keep this going!

  • Joe R.

    The larger question is why is the Post continuing to pursue the course they’re on? For the last few years it seems half the Post’s major articles involve bike bashing. What’s their motivation here? Did their biggest advertisers, perhaps seeing a long term threat to car sales in NYC, push them to portray cycling solely as a fringe activity for delivery people and nutcases? Their articles never had any basis in reality from the start. I think most of their readers have long since figured this out. I doubt it’s even selling papers at this point. Are they afraid of looking like fools if they reverse course? With bike share poised to make cycling no more unusual than walking, they’re appealing to a smaller and smaller audience while turning off just about all potential new subscribers. From where I stand this sure as heck doesn’t seem like a good business model. Same thing with the business owners who proudly wear their anti-livable streets agenda on their sleeves. For every person who sympathizes, probably 3 or 4 will boycott them. If I had a business in the bike share zone, I would be begging to have a bike station right in front of my business. I would probably install a small indoor bike rack as well to cater to those riding their own bikes who don’t want to park out in the street.

  • dm10003

    Avenue D at East 12 Street has some interesting temporary adjustments; not sure if it’s vandalism-related or system-related.

  • James Reefer


  • Anonymous

    Did you see 8 “not broken” docks though?

  • Mike

    Some similar tape at Stanton & Chrystie on Monday.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Wow 20,000 memberships within the first three days! Just wait till the daily and weekly memberships are for sale! I predict 50,000 members by the end of June.

  • summer

    True. I rode from my office in the west 30s to Rockefeller Center and had three conversations along the way about Citi Bike, all of them positive. I even got a surprising thumbs-up from a cabbie who pulled up next to me as I was waiting at a light.

  • carma

    awesome. im also hearing really cool comments from folks all over during my ride. one kid around 8-9 shouts: “heh mom, look its a citibike”.
    i also got stopped by a mother crossing with her baby and asks hows the ride. i mention it weighs as much as a mack truck but its a really easy ride.

  • carma

    i have not met one single person that is against this. everybody i pass by seems to applaud me passing by.

    oh wait, i did get one person who seemed pissed. it was an inconsiderate car who honked at me who felt i was taking his lane.

  • Eric McClure

    I rode into Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge around 6:45 this evening, and a full dozen of the 13 Brooklyn-bound bikes I passed were Citi Bikes.

  • Eric McClure

    I say it’s a lame attempt at sabotage. Anyone from Citi Bike care to weigh in?

  • Joe R.

    That was my first thought as well when I saw the picture.

  • Larry Littlefield

    They are expecting everyone to forget.

  • The Post has a culture of conservatism, produced by and consumed by conservatives. The isolation of their reality probably contributes to a greater sense that they are correct in their criticisms of the bike share, just as progressives reading websites like StreetsBlog believe in a reality dominated by progressive transportation policy.

  • Anonymous

    Out here in the ‘burbs, the Citibike rollout is getting more people to hop on their bikes. And drivers seemed more inclined to “see” cyclists.

  • Goose

    You rode from Queens? Where are the bike share stations there?


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