Today’s Headlines

  • Wrong-Way Driver Fleeing Cops Seriously Injures Cyclist, Slams Storefront (Post, News, Gothamist)
  • Driver Jumps Curb in Midtown, Injuring Baby and Six Adults (Post, News)
  • Hit-And-Run Driver Plows Into East New York Home, Injuring Couple Sitting on Their Porch (Post)
  • Less Than Half of NYC’s DMV Test-Takers Passed Basic Road Exam Last Year (News)
  • Top CUNY and SUNY Administrators Get Chauffeured to Work in State-Issued Vehicles (Post)
  • DOT Holds Meeting on Fourth Avenue Traffic Calming As It Nears CB 10 Vote (Bklyn Paper)
  • WSJ Takes on Bike-Share Expansion, While Ginia Bellafante’s Lazy Writing Has Not Improved (NYT)
  • One Week Is All It Took To Turn Colin Beavan Into a Bike-Share Fan (News)
  • Times Editorial: “Bike-Sharing Works… Why, Then, All The Anxiety and Hyperventilating?”
  • Post Stenography for Unnamed PPW “Critics” Continues As Lawsuit Lives On
  • Staten Island Community Education Council Applies for Slow Zones Around Schools (Advance)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • john

    Bike sharing anxiety explained by Don Blankenship (former CEO of Massey):

    “Turn down your thermostats? Buy a smaller car? Conserve? I have spent quite a bit of time in Russia and China, and that’s the first stage. You go from having your own car to carpooling to riding the bus to mass transit. You eventually get to where you’re going by walking. That’s what socialism and the elimination of capitalism and free enterprise is all about.”

  • Record-busting number of rides yesterday (I’m amazed the current 6,000-bike system can handle 22,000 rides at all!)

  • 22,000 rides/ day is fantastic, but it’s not too surprising — that is a per-bike average of 4x per day, which seems easy to achieve and well under capacity if we assume trips under 45 minutes each.

  • J

    Whoa. Citibike hit 22,399 trips yesterday. That’s over 4 trips per bike, which is about as many as in most of the top systems in the world (Paris, Montreal, DC) To put that number in perspective, the only bus lines in Manhattan that moves more people per day are the M14, M15, M86, & M101. Each of the 33 other bus routes lines move fewer people per day than bike share. It would be fascinating to compare the costs of operating these bus lines vs operating bike share.

    Also, at 4 trips per bike, the system is quickly reaching capacity and will need to expand, not just to new areas but within the Manhattan core itself.

  • It’s not so simple. You have to consider that there’s a finite number of bikes at each rack, and that demand for bikes isn’t uniform throughout the day. Already there were issues with empty racks even when ridership was 9,000.

  • Anonymous

    That Ginia Bellafante thing is maddening. “I had an unspecified problem removing the bike from the dock! Then, incredibly, there was a long line for things normally cost $30 or up but were being given away free! Bike share is doomed!”

    And that’s not even getting into the “other people who are as well-to-do as I am were, like me, asking for free things” aspect of the “article.”

  • Jeff

    We’re still in the “early adopter” phase in Bike Share’s lifecycle, and we’re already seeing 4 trips/bike/day? This system could become a victim of its own success unless it expands quickly. I, for one, would simply stop using it if I could not trust that bikes would be available at my origin, and docks at my destination.

  • J

    Yeah, once you get above 4 trips per bike, the system begins to break down, since once you get above that, it’s nearly impossible to keep bikes available in all stations, and this makes the system much less useful.

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t had much problem with empty stations, although I admit I don’t commute from the major hubs like GCT, Penn, and PA. I *have* continued to have problems with dead stations. I found two stations in Brooklyn over the weekend that were dead, and from the history graphs were probably dead all weekend and are still not fixed. Found another dead station on Friday in the rain on my way home.

    I’m really starting to worry there’s a serious problem with the stations and they don’t have the ability to keep them online and reliable.

  • Anonymous

    Thankfully, New Yorkers make many more mutually-cancelling trips than people in other cities.

  • I’m assuming that once they work out a better rebalancing scheme, the 4 trips/day/bike is going to look like the low end of capacity. It’s early days yet.

  • Her stat about “more than 400,000” people living in NYC public housing yet only 200 people signing up for bike share is meaningless. It fails to put any context on the first figure, since how many of those 400,000 people live in the service area? If you live in a NYCHA building in the Bronx and work in the same borough, what use do you have for a Citi Bike membership even if you can afford it?

    Bike share systems do have a historical problem with attracting non-white, less affluent customers, but there are ways to point this out without throwing around scary sounding numbers. Unfortunately for Bellafante, that might require analysis and journalism.

  • Anonymous

    Some of the stations may simply not be getting enough sunshine. They need to be in the grid.

  • Daphna

    I agree. Bikeshare needs to expand beyond the areas it already covers, but also even within the neighborhoods that have bike share, a greater density of stations is needed in some places. The docking stations should be 3-4 blocks apart but in some places they are 6-7 blocks apart.

  • Daphna

    Greg does a great analysis and mapping in graphs of the numbers from the citibikenyc blog.

  • Anonymous

    I could be, but one of the stations that was offline all weekend was the huge 60 dock station on Atlantic Ave across the street from the Barclays center. That location is in an open pedestrian plaza next to an intersection of two very large and busy roads. It’s more or less in full sun the whole day without building canyons blocking anything, so it will get whatever is coming from the sky.

    If that station isn’t working, either the solar system is seriously flawed, or there’s something else that’s wrong.

  • carma

    so the news reports that less people are passing the driver license exam. wouldnt that be a GOOD thing? especially with the teens texting, tweeting, chatting, sexting, etc…

    i would love to make it even more difficult to pass, so that only the best drivers get the license

  • Anonymous

    3 of the 8 stations in Williamsburg were down practically all day yesterday, as was the station closest to Brooklyn Bridge Park. That thwarted my plans to ride from Williamsburg to Brooklyn Bridge Park, as the remaining racks were quite full and I couldn’t be assured I’d have a dock to return to.

    Stations at Fort Greene Park (on DeKalb) and the Barclays Center have both been down for an entire day now.

    I’ll still ride (and had a problem-free ride this morning from the East Village to Midtown), but it’s not exactly giving me confidence in the system.

  • Anonymous

    Just noticed this on the Chattanooga Bikeshare’s facebook page:

    “SYSTEM ALERT: Bike Chattanooga will temporarily shut down Monday, June 10 from 7am until 3pm for a system wide software upgrade. During this time period members and customers will not be able to rent a bike from any of the 31 stations. Bike Chattanooga stations are expected to be online at 3:00pm and open to customers. Sorry For the inconvenience. Help us spread the word.”

    Chattanooga is the other Alta homegrown system out right now. Maybe this means they’ll be updating NYC’s software as well if everything works well in TN today?

  • Daphna

    22,399 trips yesterday on Sunday! Even on Friday in the pouring rain there were 5,200 trips. 35,879 annual members so far. Also thousands signing up for daily memberships and hundreds signing up for weekly memberships.
    But I see chronic bike shortages at the docking stations throughout midtown. I hope that Alta will:
    1) fix their software problems
    2) do more effective rebalancing (re-balance in the day if needed not just at night)
    3) expand the number of bikes and docking stations. Install the 21 stations that were supposed to have been part of the 330 station May 27th launch but were left out and still marked as “planned”. Have greater density of stations where needed in Manhattan. Expand asap to neighborhoods where docking stations were already planned in workshops for the original 600 station launch: UES and UWS of Manhattan up to 79th Street, LIC, Greenpoint, Bed Stuy, and the rest of Williamsburg. Do this expansion asap while NYC still has supporters Bloomberg and Sadik-Khan.

  • tyler

    But hopefully they choose a less absurd time to do system upgrades….

  • kevd

    I disagree.
    In the Manhattan core there should be a docking station every block. Perhaps not the large 30 and 40 rack stations they have most places now, but something (10, maybe..) every single block.

  • Daphna

    Thanks for this information.
    I am still frustrated with Alta for dropping 8D as their software developers and trying to do it in house for NYC Bikeshare. It is one thing to switch programmers for Chattangooga which has 31 stations, but it is another thing to make a switch like this with NYC when Alta was already facing the hurdle of their largest system ever. NYC was not the right system to do the experiment of switching from a successful software development company to trying to do it in house. NYC had bikeshare delayed a year as a result. But at this point, I hope Alta just gets their homebrew software to work properly asap.

  • Anonymous

    As I recall from when I took my drivers test (and failed the first time), many, many years ago, New York State had one of the lowest pass rates in the country. IIRC it was ~60% at the time, but that’s from memory a long time ago.

  • Daphna

    Author of “No Impact Man” Colin Beavan’s piece in the NY Daily News is excellent!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    One of the two women who Bellafante assumes are rich folks taking free helmets responded to the article. Turns out she lives in an apartment that is part of the city affordable housing program:

  • Anonymous

    Alta doesn’t rebalance during the day? Bixi in Montreal does, as I’ve seen it being done.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve seen rebalancing going on at the Columbus Circle station around 9:30 am, and I have no reason to believe that they don’t keep rebalancing throughout the day.

  • Anonymous

    I got a free bike helmet from a giveaway last summer on Catherine St. near Chinatown. Most of the people there were from the neighborhood, many getting helmets for their kids. Yes, the wait was long, and they ran out of helmets (for kids first, IIRC), but what do you expect from free?

    You can make an appointment for a free helmet fitting by calling Safety City:

    They’re neither conveniently located nor easy to get through to, but it’s doable, and again, what do you expect for free? You can also get to a calendar of helmet fitting events.

  • Daphna

    Whatever rebalancing they are doing isn’t quite sufficient yet. Numerous midtown docking stations are chronically empty or down to their last bike or two. And many Williamsburg stations are full.

  • Anonymous

    As much as I love bikeshare I’m still skeptical that it can scale if it becomes even slightly popular as a transit mode. We can be as excited as we want about 20,000 trips per day, but that’s only a few trainloads: really a drop in the bucket of a city of 8 million residents and I don”t know how many millions of out-of-town commuters.

    I’m guessing that a single city block in midtown might employ 10,000 workers. What happens when most of them come out of the office in the evening? If even 1% of them take bikeshare, that will empty the station in a matter of minutes, and we don’t even have one station per block. This is a tide that’s not easily compensated by rebalancing. I suppose we need MANY more bikes and docks in midtown for this to work.

    The one time I encountered a rebalancing crew, I noticed was that they shut down the station while they docked the bikes. That downtime is also a problem if rebalancing becomes increasingly frequent.

  • Eddie

    It’s not just the software, it’s also the lack of customer service. Unfortunately, I’ve heard too many stories like this one:

  • Daphna

    Last Monday, June 3rd, a commentator on Streetblog wrote that they had signed up Sunday afternoon June 2nd for annual membership of NYC Bikeshare and received a membership number around 40,000. However, as of June 9th, citibike is reporting 35,879 annual members. Is there a long delay between sign-up and when the numbers are reported on the citibike blog?? Or do the numbers given to annual members not correspond to the actual number of people signing up?? As much as 35,879 is a high number, I am confused why someone who joined a week earlier was given a membership number around 40,000.

  • Daphna

    Haha. He used citibike twice as a daily member during the preview week when citibike was only supposed to be operating for annual members. The system should not have allowed that. There were decals on the kiosks covering the credit card slot during the preview week. Those decals specified the June 2nd full launch. Someone must have removed the decals from the kiosks he used. I hope he realizes that there were a A LOT of stations out of order during that preview week, many more than are out of order now. He describes a lot of legitimate problems. I do hope that citibike is not turning off many people due to technological and customer service problems.

  • Kim Wiley-Schwartz

    Actually, Safety Education is not currently giving helmets out at Safety Cities. We are doing some limited appointments at our main office in Manhattan. You can call 311 and asked to be patched through to the main number

  • Daphna

    I would be in favor of expanding bikeshare – more bikes, more docking stations, more docks per station in midtown so that bikeshare can be used by more. But bikeshare does not have to compare to bus, subway, drivers, taxi, or pedestrian numbers for it to be a success. It is a transportation method that fits in with the rest. But bikeshare is already moving more people than many bus lines and that is significant.

    I also hope that many people will get a taste of riding from bikeshare and will decide then to get their own bike or to start riding the bike they already have. So biking can increase in NYC both through people on citibikes and people on their own bikes.

  • Its possible the missing numbers were given to monthly memberships?

  • tyler

    Daphna — I know you live in NYC, but CALM DOWN. They barely have TWO weeks of data and you are continually harping on the lack of re-balancing.

  • PB

    I think you mean “weekly” not “monthly” but it’s a good theory.