Discount Citi Bike Memberships Now Available to 1.6 Million SNAP Recipients in NYC

The program expands a discount that's already available to NYCHA residents, but it would go a lot farther if Citi Bike itself were expanding.

Citi Bikes aren't performing that well. Photo: Adrian Nutter/Flickr
Citi Bikes aren't performing that well. Photo: Adrian Nutter/Flickr

Citi Bike will make its $5 per month discount membership available to the 1.6 million New Yorkers eligible for food stamps from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Mayor de Blasio announced today.

The $5/month membership significantly lowers the price of bike-share access compared to the $169 annual membership. Nearly three times as many people are now eligible for the discount, which had previously been available only to NYCHA residents and members of three community development credit unions.

The discount for SNAP recipients is “presented” by the Healthfirst insurance company, according to the announcement from the de Blasio administration. City Hall did not return a query about the extent to which Healthfirst is funding the program.

SNAP recipients can use their EBT card number to confirm eligibility for the discount online. Citi Bike staff will also be working with the city’s Human Resources Administration and the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation to conduct in-person sign-ups at SNAP enrollment centers, greenmarkets, and other locations.

Expanding eligibility for the $5/month memberships will improve access to Citi Bike, but it would go a lot farther if the system itself were still expanding. This marks the first year since Citi Bike debuted in 2013 that the service area will not reach new neighborhoods.

With 12,000 bikes distributed in Manhattan below 135th Street and parts of Queens and Brooklyn, the system is still only about one-sixth the size of the network city planners originally envisioned, and doesn’t reach the neighborhoods farther from the city center where many SNAP recipients live.

  • William Lawson

    That’s gotta put a lot of new cyclists on the road, excellent.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “City Hall did not return a query about the extent to which Healthfirst is funding the program.”

    Hopefully entirely. And not just for the poor.

    Health insurance companies give subsidies to health club memberships, which people often don’t have time to use. The health insurance industry really ought to be funding 100 percent of the cost of bicycle transportation, given its potential to decrease overall health care costs.

    The goal should be to find a way to prove the use of bicycle transportation, and having the health insurance industry pay for it.

  • com63

    Do they still need a credit card, even with the discounted rates?

  • com63

    Also, someone should challenge citibike to lower the lost bike fee from $1200 down to something more reasonable. I can’t imagine they really cost that much. I agree with NYT that it could be a psychological barrier.

    It would also be nice if Citibike cut the discounted memberships some slack on the overtime fees. Maybe don’t advertise it, but don’t charge extra until a bike has been out for 60 or 75 min instead of the 45 min published. They should bend over backwards to attract a larger constituency and not try to nickel and dime people.