Monday Morning was Really Bad for Citi Bike

Citi bike docks in a residential neighborhood. Photo: Citi Bike Flickr
Citi bike docks in a residential neighborhood. Photo: Citi Bike Flickr

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Just days after Citi Bike announced a massive expansion and maintenance effort, the system frustrated Lower Manhattan users with a breakdown on Monday morning.

Many users posted their frustrations to social media, with pictures of completely full docks in a large swath of downtown. A friend of Streetsblog said that he couldn’t find a single dock within a one-mile radius of his office at around 10 a.m.

“My bike is in the shop, so I took Citibike to work from the dentist and ended up walking about a mile to my office because of massive dockblock everywhere Lower Manhattan,” the regular Citi Bike user told Streetsblog. “WTF Motivate. Unfortunately, this is typical.”

Screenshots taken by the user (below) tell the whole story:

This composite screen shot shows that there were no places to put a Citi Bike at around 10 a.m. Monday in Lower Manhattan. Photo: John Kaehny
This composite screen shot shows that there were no places to put a Citi Bike at around 10 a.m. Monday in Lower Manhattan.

The red-tipped dock logo means that there was not a single place to put a Citi Bike. The area comprises a massive zone bounded by Washington Square Park to the north, Lafayette Street to the east, Wall Street to the south and the West Side Greenway to the west.

The area typically has dock space for hundreds of bikes. The problem was not fully solved by 2:30 p.m., when Streetsblog’s review of the Citi Bike map revealed that many the same docks were still full of bikes, though some had one or two slots.

Citi Bike admitted that Monday was a particularly challenging day for the nation’s largest bike share system. But a source at the company said the Lyft-owned bike company had suffered a perfect storm: unseasonably warm morning temperatures led to high ridership on a Monday, which because of odd weekend patterns, are always tricky for Citi Bike, as bikes end up in unpredictable areas.

The problems also came as a number of valet stations have been closed for the winter.

There were plenty of complaints:

@CitiBikeNYC stop over filling the stations!!!!! Another morning disaster and late again!,” a user named Rose tweeted at the company.

“Zero docks available within a massive radius,” added user Amber. “Crowd of 10 waiting for docks on 6th and canal which normally has a valet. major fail this am.”

Another Citi Bike rider described the system as “nearly useless,” and posted a similar screen shot.

Many readers demanded that late fees be waived. The company’s Twitter feed directed such users to email customerservice@citibikenyc.com.

Monday’s crisis comes just three days after Lyft officials announced a large expansion of the system, which will grow to nearly 40,000 bikes from the current 12,000, and double its coverage of the city from the current 30 square miles in mostly Manhattan and Brooklyn to serve far more neighborhoods. That announcement came with the promise that many of the new bikes would be pedal-assist electric bikes — and that Lyft would, by the end of February, fully repair the existing fleet, which suffered a horrific service crisis this fall that idled almost half the fleet for weeks.

The company’s promises and explanation of Monday’s disaster would not likely satisfy our original tipster.

“Enough with the ebikes (which are never charged),” he told Streetsblog. “Get the basics ops working.”

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