Bloomberg Gives a Resounding "Eh" on NYC Bike Share Program

This is definitely not good for PR.

After we did a borough breakdown of the NYC bike share map yesterday, the Hozziner made a few remarks about the program set to launch in two months time. A quick summary: the blue wheels labeled "Citibike" are simply "eh."

(We didn't make this point yesterday: the mega-bank and Mets enthusiast, Citigroup, basically bankrolled the entire program; after a financial crisis, it's always more customer-friendly to come off as too big to fail Mother Nature.)

So if you want to ride the flashy new wheels up to the Bronx or Staten Island - both places where the program is non-existent - think again. At the most, in Bloomberg's words, you can "spend three to four hours" on these puppies before, presumably, they vanish into thin air.

Here's the entire quote by the City's commander-in-chief: "If you want to rent a bike and go into the park and spend three to four hours, there are plenty of bicycle stores that will rent you bikes and make it economical. This is a transportation alternative."

And, now, here's the problem: the bike share program is supposed to offer a cost-sensitive option so people don't have to go to these stores. So Bloomberg's remarks devalue the purpose of this new green initiative that will have 10,000 bikes on the ground just a bit. If a time limit of three to four hours is too much, what's the point of taking the bike out in the first place?

A main point of a "transportation alternative" is to create a case as to why people should choose one option over another; in this case, why people should fly across Manhattan in the bike lanes instead of taking the L to 14th and 6th. The breakdown yesterday already made the argument that the program's extent is geographically limited; now, the riders of the City might be cyclically limited.

However, until the program launches, Runnin' Scared cannot put Bloomberg's statement to the test. The test: an eight-hour bike tour across the Big Apple. We'll see how far we can get without the wheels falling off.


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I agree with Marianne; you're missing the point. Bike share and bike rentals are two fundamentally different business models, they just happen to use the same equipment. It's like the difference between the East River Ferry and the Circle Line. Yes, you can take a joyride on the East River Ferry, and many people do, but it's not meant to be a leisure cruise. People use the ERF primarily because it serves trips that are awkwardly or poorly served by our existing transit network, and it quickly gets them where they need to go for a reasonable amount of money. Bike share is the same; it's fun to ride a bike around the city, just like it's fun to take a boat ride, but it has a function besides entertainment. On the flip side, if you're commuting to work, you're not going to pay $40 for an all-day for a cruise around Manhattan on the Circle Line, when you're really just going to get off at the next stop. This is what Bloomberg is trying to say. Traditional bike rentals are for recreation/leisure, and you're not going to pay $40 for an all-day bike rental when you're just trying to get cross-town at rush hour or from Williamsburg to Bed-Stuy.


I think you're missing the point.  The bikes aren't for recreational, all-day outings.  They're for people to use to get where they're going, usually in under an hour.  But you're right that the geographical limitations will interfere with their being a true transportation alternative (similarly, in Boston, there are currently no stations in Cambridge, which limits the bikes' usefulness). 

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