App Helps You Find Elusive Electric Citi Bikes

A Brooklyn developer has created a tool that makes finding shared e-bikes easier.

Screenshot from
Screenshot from

Haven’t made it on one of Citi Bike’s new pedal-assist electric bikes? There’s an app — er, online mapping tool — for that.

Frustrated by her inability to find one the popular but sparse e-bikes, Brooklyn Heights software developer Aliza Aufrichtig took Citi Bike’s real-time data and created an easy-to-use online guide: The tool makes the e-bikes easier to locate on a map, and, more important, generates an easy-to-read list of every available e-bike.

“I wanted to ride an e-bike and was having trouble finding them,” Aufrichtig said. “I very quickly spun up something to very easily see where they were.”

It’s been almost a month since bike-share operator Motivate added 200 e-bikes to its 12,000-bike network, with more bikes slated to join the fleet before next spring’s L train shutdown. The bikes are a joy to ride, but are also extremely hard to come by. The bikes are also hard to spot on Citi Bike’s map.

“It’s hard to see, overall, where they are. You can only see the little lightning bolt when you zoom into a specific area,” Aufrichtig said. “[This tool] just makes it easier to see and help you when they’re there.”

Beyond the Citi Bike app, the main problem seems to be that there aren’t really 200 e-bikes available. Certainly, when a pedal-assist bike is check out, it won’t show up in the app. But since creating her mapping tool last week, Aufrichtig says the most e-Citi Bikes that she has seen on her map has been 32 bikes. Usually, it’s closer to 10 to 15.


A Motivate spokesperson declined to say how many e-Citi Bikes are available. But the spokesperson did say that bikes are out of service more frequently than the company initially expected. Swapping out the spent batteries, for example, presents “an additional operational challenge,” the spokesperson added, but the process is “getting better and more efficient… every day.”

So far, the average e-Citi Bike is getting 15 rides per day, compared to six rides per day for the “classic” Citi Bike, according to Motivate.

“The fact that there’s so high adoption rates means that if you plug a bike in, 30 seconds later it gets rented out,” the spokesperson said.

Indeed, at the moment we published this story, there were only seven e-Citi Bikes available in the entire bike share zone.

  • Russell Murphy

    Finally found one this morning and it was down :/

  • Nicholas Weiner

    I only got to ride them twice; the first time I was literally getting ready for bed at half-past midnight when I realized there was an e-bike just seven blocks away. Flew out of my apartment and sprinted over there (middle of Harlem btw) and got to fully experience it. But the second time the battery was nearly dead and even the most worn-out first-gen CitiBike would have ridden circles around it.

  • Mike Snoow

    Best way is u spot them when riding. I have ridden 2 in a single day. It’s been really easy for me to get them

  • Just came up with this radical idea. You could purchase your own e-bike, then you’d be able to use it just about any old time you felt like. No 45-minute limits either. Don’t give me that look, I said it was radical didn’t I. If that sounds like too much of a hassle, there are always motorless, “analog” bikes that work just as well as e-bikes, using only a modest amount of leg power. These are also pretty cheap to buy, and easy to maintain.

  • William Lawson

    Many people use bike shares because a) you don’t have to find storage for it at home, b) you have no maintenance and c) you’re not tied to the place you leave it when you walk off somewhere. Bike ownership is a totally different experience. Better for some, but not others.

  • a.k.a. responsibility. Ha ha. I understand the convenience of bike share in concept. I just find the topic of bike ownership strangely absent from this whole conversation about bikes saving us from transit hell and whatnot. Lots of people nowadays have access to bike storage in their homes and office buildings. Sure it requires some effort, and some mindfulness, but let us not forget, bike ownership is wonderful.

  • walks bikes drives

    I own a bike that I am quite fond of, and, while I have been a supporter of citibike since its onset, had not been a member. But I have just joined. Until now, my trips on bike always began from home and returned home, whether as a commute or for recreation. But now I have added trips that require a route with public transportarion for a portion that does not circle back to where I would have left my bike. So now citibike can count me as a member. Even though I will always prefer my own bike. I have numerous friends who have been members since its inception that have their own bikes, often numerous bikes, but they wont lock their bike up outside when they go somewhere, and for good reason. And many of my coworkers take the train in to Penn or GC, and then use citibike to then get to and from work. So yes, bike ownership is wonderful, and, in my circle at least, I have not seen anyone give up their personal bikes for citibike membership. It just augments their personal ownership.

  • walks bikes drives

    Just ran out to one too. This app was great and helped me see it was at my nearest rack. But lucky me – out of power. Got a boost the first pedal only.

  • The notion of maintaining and re-charging some 200 bikes which are scattered throughout a network of 12,000 seems slightly insane to me. Citibike benefits people but it is propped up by an ever-growing network of hidden gnomes–maintaining, repairing, replacing, rebalancing and now re-charging. Citibank is a rather large operation, a lot unwieldier than you think, and one that relies heavily on motor vehicle transport.

  • AMH

    My riding has increased exponentially since I joined Citibike for the simple reason that I can grab one anytime, anywhere! My own bike is great for round trips but doesn’t work well for spontaneous ones.