Citi Bike Share Launch Gets Underway

Google Map NYC Bike Share Stations

As surely as daffodil blooms signal the new season, last weekend’s sprouting of the first docking stations (no bikes yet), in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, heralded the roll-out of New York City’s long-awaited Citi Bike share.

The Citi Bike share launch will give New Yorkers 24/7, 365-day access to sturdy bicycles from self-service stations for short trips around town, adding an easy-to-use, efficient and affordable new public transit option. The project was twice-delayed, most recently by damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Citi Bike Share Station Brooklyn
A new Citi Bike station in Brooklyn. (Photo: Doug Gordon)

What will be the largest bike share in North American will launch initially with 5,500 bikes at 300 stations, joining cities that have already implemented such systems, including Washington DC, Boston, London and Paris.

Although occasional street spottings of blue bikes have been reported via social media — with enthusiasm that mirrors polls indicating broad public support — only the stations have landed thus far. According to the New York City Department of Transportation, installation of the solar-powered fixtures, which include docks for bicycles, a touch-screen kiosk and a way-finding map, continues in Brooklyn and will expand into Manhattan over the next few weeks. View detailed photos of installations in Brooklyn.

Although no announcement accompanied Saturday’s start of the roll-out and no official launch date, beyond the general target of May, has been set, there’s plenty that future bike share users can do now to get ready to ride. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions:

What’s my best source of information as Citi Bike rolls out:

Log onto the Citi Bike website for information about how the system works, pricing, riding tips, news and more. You can also sign up on the website to receive updates via email. The website, the central hub for cycling events and information in New York City, is another good resource.

Citi Bike App

Will there be an app for Citi Bike?

Coming soon, the official Citi Bike app will show station locations, indicate bike and dock availability, plot routes and directions and map ammenities along the way. Eventually, according the the Citi Bike website, a curated “A list” of restaurants, stores, museums and more will be added.

How can I find the station nearest my home or office?

Click here to view detailed map of the planned stations nearest to you.

How can I learn how to use the bikes?

Bike New York is the education partner of Citi Bike sharing. The organization will present free Citi Bike Street Skills classes at a variety of locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The one-hour classroom sessions include an overview of bike share basics such as pricing and station locations, as well as tips for riding on city streets. In addition, class participants receive a free, 24-hour pass for Citi Bike to try it out.

Check here for classes and bike share demonstration events.

What is the price of Citi Bike membership?

An annual membership costs $95. A 7-day pass is $25 and a one-day pass costs $9.95. If you are a member, the first 45 minutes are free; it’s 30 minutes for non-members. Thereafter, a small fee accrues for the first additional hour and then escalates more steeply. Anticipate some introductory special offers, as well. More details here.

Citi Bike Sharing Map

How far can I travel within the free period?

The bull’s eye map (above), with a starting point of Washington Square Park in Manhattan, provides on example of  how far you can travel within specified time periods. For example, you could access a bike at Washington Square Park and ride to Grand Central Terminal easily with within the allotted “no-charge” period. Bike share is designed with quick trips and high-turnover of bikes in mind.  View other examples here.

How were the locations of the stations decided?

A report released this week by the NYC DOT, NYC Bike Share: Designed by New Yorkers, documents the extensive multi-year community planning process — the largest ever for an NYC transportation project — behind bike share, including  159 community meetings, 10,000 station suggestions on the DOT’s interactive station planning map and 2,881 options presented to the public, community boards and others for the bike share stations that form the core of the initial roll-out. The community planning process continues as the system is projected to expand to 10,000 bicycles and 600 stations.

Stay tuned for more as a landmark addition to New York City transit options rolls out.

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