I walked out of a meeting at 33rd and Park yesterday at 5:05pm. I had to be on a call in my home office at 5:30pm. Getting a cab is a bitch that time of day. The subway required a switch from the Lex to the L at Union Square and that can be tricky if you don't time it right. So I took out my phone, fired up the Citibike app, and saw that there was a Citibike station right across the street. Of course, if I didn't have my nose in my phone I could have figured that out by looking up.
I tweeted this out and hopped on the bike:
Getting on a @citibikenyc to get to my next meeting. twitter.com/fredwilson/sta…
— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) May 29, 2013
I headed south on Park and then west on the bike lane on 29th Street all the way to 9th Avenue, and then down the bike lane on 9th Avenue. At some point on 9th Avenue, a biker pulled up next to me and started asking me about Citibike. We had that conversation down 9th until he peeled off around 14th Street and I continued down to the bike station at Bank and Washington.
Sixteen minutes later, I was home, and I tweeeted this:
33rd and Park to Bank and Washington in 19mins on @citibikenycthat beats the subway and is cheaper than a cab
— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) May 29, 2013
This New Yorker cover says it all for me. Why do we get on the bike at the gym and then take a cab to work?
Sure there are some safety concerns. Helmets are a problem. I need an inflatable helmet in my pocket solution. I'll be looking for that. And cars and cabs and trucks can be dangerous company on the roads in NYC. But the bike lanes are huge in that regard. To me the bike lanes are the thing that makes Citibike work in NYC.
A few weeks ago, we bought our whole family annual Citibike passes. Eight dollars a month for unlimited rides per month. That's better transportation value than anything else in NYC and better for you too. Now I am off for my morning bike ride up the west side highway.
I love my city, my bike, and Citibike.
Lucky you, you have stations at both ends of your commute.
Would be wonderful to implement this in Cape Town, South Africa but feel that the actual bike theft would be the main concern. Wonder if there is a way around that? Sensors in the bike, but people will easily figure that out. p.s. Crime in South Africa is massive!okay kinda figured it out. It becomes the users responsibility. mmm very interesting.
Now that it’s consumed this blog post, it’s native advertising. ;-)All kidding aside, love the fact that the City has this; share your fear of cabs, trucks, and drivers from Jersey.
Ha! That fear is well-founded. I live in NJ and can confirm.
It is pretty cool, and much better than subway or cab. I’ll have to try it next time I am in NYC on business.I was walking along the Tel Aviv beach a few weeks back (there is a bike/jogging path on the boardwalk), and there were plenty of people with the green bike share rentals. https://www.tel-o-fun.co.il… is a pun, since it is “Tel (Aviv)” and “Fun”, but also because the Hebrew for wheel is “Ofan”, bikes are “Ofanayim”.Then there was the older woman with the flat tire (or tyre, for the Brits), who was stuck. My wife and I helped her out, was pretty easy. Call the support number on the bike, give them the serial number on the bike, they gave us the nearest station to return it, and they automatically credited her for the rental.
I was thinking you are talking about a ride like on a harley davidson….I thought ‘wow’ … a ride on the ave’s and streets of NYC.on a bike …until i scrolled down to notice the picture…ha…bicycle.In India bike is for motorbikes and ‘this bikes’ are called either ‘bicycle’ or just ‘cycle’….now in india they call the motorbike and vespa as ‘two-wheelers’ because none of the adults own a bicycle (except for very poor and fitness freak).
Cycle hire totally changed London for me when it launched 3 years ago. It has all the advantages you describe Fred, but the best part is it acts as a gateway drug to more and more cycling. People start with cycle hire and then eventually get their own bike. That creates the critical mass to make cycling safer for everyone.If you haven’t seen it yet this site is an amazing and beautiful visualization of the system:http://bikes.oobrien.com/ne…Now all we need is a few more tweaks:http://freyfogle.tumblr.com…
Interestingly, I almost did the exact same route. I was in midtown at 50th and Madison at 5.30pm and needed to get to SoHo. But ultimately did not want to brave rush hour midtown traffic, particularly without a helmet. I had to wait for 3 subways to pass on the green line before there was enough room in one for a reasonable ride downtown.
bike it next time!
http://citibikenyc.com/ridi…http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot…”Everyone should wear a helmet while riding. DOT fits and gives away the official New York City bicycle helmet at events throughout the city. Call 311 to schedule a fitting. In order to receive a helmet you must: be present, learn how to properly fit and wear a helmet, and sign a waiver (a parent or legal guardian must sign for children under 18).”perhaps the bikes should be painted in a brighter color, a high visibility yellow, or just plain white for riding after sunset.
Why do we get on the bike at the gym and then take a cab to work?…work while you work and play while you play :-)….just remembered a childhood rhyme.
We need reverse toll lanes, where you get paid to bike.
In all seriousness, they could modify the “game” to give credit to those who ride to empty racks (ie against the flow) or free up space at full racks. I discuss the idea here:http://freyfogle.tumblr.com…
But then everyone would be doing it — that’s not profitable at all ………
OK let’s get started…how much will you pay me to bike today?
what would really encourage people to use them? usb charging as the hubs rotate. everyone would be jumping on to top up their devices.like this;http://www.tout-terrain.de/…a very sticky app.
I think you are using the service exactly as it is meant, to run errands and ride short distances. I would not recommend an inflatable helmet however, unless your scalp is made of steel.I too am glad for the program (I am proud Citibike member #302 and received the “supporting member” tee-shirt to prove it). I have been riding around New York for many years and was waiting for this day (I am from Paris where we have had a public bike service for a long time).I hope that it will get many people interested in doing more biking. The next big event is the Hudson Valley ride. Come along, it is great fun:http://www.bikenewyork.org/…
early adopter FTW!
resource sharing is where it’s at across the board, but especially in the transportation sector. let’s see if the taxi companies try to ban it though. only half joking.resource sharing services are destined to be on a collision course with real world governments as they evolve, which IMO is the truly great part.to answer the question in your post, bike theft is a major concern. probably the biggest reason i’ve never had a bike in any of the major cities i’ve lived in. all my friends have had bikes stolen, even those who are cautious about it.
Then you can extend this to other products. Take a lawn mower. You use it for a few hours, then it sits in your garage doing nothing for 99% of the time.Or when you travel, you leave your car at the airport, but it sits there. There’s a Y-C startup https://flightcar.com/ that came up with a business model where you join a share club, and when you travel, you get a car rental for really cheap and you park your car for free. Like AirBnB for car rentals.Or take ZipCar. Similar concepts.
I have had that happen before. Once I got lucky with the Kryptonite insurance policy. It does not happen too often, but when it does, stories of people actually able to recover their stolen bikes are pretty cool.
Speaking of helmets in your pocket…. this may be a solution if you don’t mind dropping c. $600http://www.hovding.com/
you go first 🙂
How do they come up with such idea….interesting….this image from the site may help appreciate that more.
You beat me to posting this!! I have coveted this delectable thing since it first came out.I want to make cooler designs on mine though. If they did custom then I’d be in heaven!
oh dang beat me to it too 🙂 if you havent yet see the video in my comment 🙂
One of Fred’s favorite authors anticipated it 20 years ago in Snow Crash: http://steamcatapult.com/20…
Why not rent a regular helmet and design some cheap protective/disposable wear around it.
I’m just going to sell @fredwilson a pair of adult water-wings and tell him they’re a new collapsable bike helmet I’m developing. The top is open for ventilation. They even come with a spare! I think he’ll go for it. 😉
I am pretty sure I saw that on the set of a Sci-Fi movie about human-eating aliens!
Were they also wearing Google glass?#SciFiFashion
I should have scrolled down first … just posted link to the films page @ http://www.hovding.com/en/f…
Secondary market opportunity: umbrella sales people start selling/renting helmets at Citibike stations.
Not sure how much helmets would go for, or how much you’d trust that — I’d want certified / licensed people to make sure they’re selling quality / safe helmets .. Umbrellas, quality doesn’t matter as much …
Product – Market fit… Yes. Product fit? Not so much….. As you smartly pointed out.
There could be a solution that would work.
They oughta just make rollbars for heads.
I think I might rather die than wear this. All it needs now is to be paired with Google glass.#SciFiFashion
Ha! That was my first thought, too. It’s amazing how stuff like this becomes chic, though, when the cool kids start wearing it.
i saw the video of that a few years ago. i didn’t think they were available yet. i will check this out. thanks.
we’ve had the same in London for a few years now. Coincidentally also sponsored by a bank.2 wheels is the best way to get to know a city. 360 panoramic view. no traffic, no parking/riding restrictions. complete freedom.I’d be interested to see NYC usage stats.I’m sure uptown ==> downtown journeys are 10x downtown ==> uptown.#pant #pant
You got to hand it to the Europeans for being way ahead of the Americans on this. Have you heard of the Copenhagenize index? Note that Montreal is the only and first North American city on it, and that’s where Bixi started with 3,000 bikes back in 2009.
where did u get that picture from?…probably from one of those entertainment for elephants happened in south India?Recently they had entertainment session (30-days) for the elephants in the place i live….some 40+ elephants were brought from different temples and were allowed have fun in big forest area …like summer camp for kids…this was done because someone told the senator (chief minister) that if she has to be elected again next time she has to entertain the temple elephants.Only-in-India.
It wasn’t supposed to be that pic, but I couldn’t delete it in Disqus after I clicked it by mistake. See next pic. Sorry about that. Not sure where it came from.
Good story. Elephants are big in India 🙂
NYC should incentivize Smart car taxis. My guess is that 50 % of taxi rides are single passenger.
Chicago has tried to be very bike friendly for years now. There are always a few accidents. We have a piece of the police force that is on bikes and patrols the lakefront and nearby city streets.Each year, I take part in the Chicago Cubs bike relief effort. We ride 100 miles in a day (and contribute to a charity) SRAM and the Cubs buy bikes for kids in Africa that have no other means of transportation to get to school. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Xn…You definitely want a helmet. Even if drivers are careful bikers can be tough to see. And don’t get me started on gravel trucks.
if you are down in hyde park on an irregular basis, you should check out when the president of the U of C gives bike tours 🙂
We could ride around the campus. Go see the mad bomber/Obama confidant Bill Ayers house. Then ride up the street and dodge epithets from Louis Farrakhan. Might be fun if I brought some bottle rockets.
Rode ten miles of errands yesterday on a citibike. Really enjoyed all of the conversations with curious New Yorkers. A classic NYC moment: I live on the lower east side- the early morning tai chi ladies have taken to using the bikes in the racks as stationary exercise bikes- they just peddle backwards. It’s adorable. Instant hack, just need to figure out how to use the motion to charge the rental station : )
They should hook them up to batteries to store power for the next hurricane.
actually Volkswagen just announced a new plan to do that with electic cars. You charge when energy is cheap, then when it’s expensive if you don’t need it you can sell the energy back to the grid. A massive distributed network battery. Unfortunately can’t find an article in English, but here’s some coverage in German.http://www.spiegel.de/wirts…
this is a good idea
or some system to pedal for bitcoin!
that is awesome
Yes, that is really awesome.
that tai chi lady hack is too cool!Pics please!
that is awesome. citibike hacking!
…or charge mobile phones?
We need Navigation on these bikes, like this:
NY is hard to get lost in unless you are in the west village or parts of Brooklyn.
or queens 🙂
How right you are!The only place in Queens i go is to the LuLiTonix kitchen at times in Long Island City.
I live nearish to there if I think it is in here:http://www.queensny.org/qed…
I suggest reading signs and looking about you will get you there as reliably and far safer.
Reading signs??? That’s more like in Europe where they actually have signs you can follow if you’re going to the downtown of a city or a museum or places of notoriety.Here, they look at their smartphone maps.What’s common to both methods is that you can get lost anyways, no matter what you use 🙂
I also used Citibike for the first time yesterday to go from the office to a meeting. 13 minutes which would have taken 30+ using subway/walking. It also made me realize how many bike lanes there actually are in the city.
exactly what i realized
The New Yorker cover. Perfect, as ever.Most importantly, such initiatives show a city’s intent. Love it.
Really glad you liked the program – itcould be a game changer. One other point: it’s going to eliminate a great many parking spaces (3,000 so far – maybe more) and I bet it will be a boon toservices like Hailo and Uber as people may give up their cars out offrustration and because the services are so helpful, as demonstrated in SF.
When all is said and done, it will remove 0.5% of the parking spaces in the coverage zone. So if just 1 in 200 car owners who park on the street decide the convenience of the bike program is reason enough to sell their car (or to park it in a cheap, bike-accessible lot on the edge of town) then parking is no more difficult. If 2 in 200 do so parking was made *easier* by the bike program.
thanks – that’s helpful – let’s hope it “works” in this way – and if many more sell their cars such that demand for spots in garages goes down and monthly parking space prices drop, all the better
Not to mention that as it stands, pretty much 100% of curbside space is dedicated to car parking. And yet well less than half of New Yorkers own cars. And if you look at the area where bike share is located, it’s well under 25% of residents who own cars? So why do they get 100% of the curbside space? Maybe it should be 25% parking, 10% bike parking, 15% motorcycle and scooter parking and 50% greenspace.(Ok, it’s maybe 99% or 98% but you get my point).
I do – it is a very good point. One other category we are going to have to start planning for: parking spaces with access to electrical outlets for Teslas… or some way to charge electric cars in cities
i am sure that is all part of the plan. this is the same administration that wanted congestion pricing
I’ll do my first trial today on a TriBeCa to LES route.But like you, I did a ride up the Hudson on the path to kick off a really beautiful NY day.Celebrating life in NYC is a privilege and a pleasure.
High-tech business attire that can survive a bike ride: http://www.ministryofsupply…
OK, interesting, sounds cool, but $98 for a dress shirt? I buy mine at Brooks Brothers during their semin-annual sale, pay less than half that for no-iron extremely comfortable shirts that hold up to serious travel.
It is more than non-wrinkle:Water ejecting fabricsDifferent fabric thickness depending on body temperature
I get that, but serious steep premium. I don’t want to pay 2-3x on my shirts. I guess I am not the target market.And most of the time, depending on whose office I am in, I am not even wearing dress shirts…
when is the semi-annual sale – ive heard good things about women’s shirts
I’m all for NYC doing what NYC does and hope the program is a success beyond the initial hype.But to answer a question in the post directly: “Why do we bike at the gym?”Because it’s a good workout that you can’t get on city streets. Your trip was 2.1 miles and took 16 minutes…. that’s an average speed of 7-8 MPH with I’m sure plenty of stops and starts. It’s not close to “workout” quality.Maybe it’s healthier than a cab….my guess is that life insurance companies would prefer people that take cabs….but we’ll need injury and death stats to know for sure.But 2.1 miles….why not walk/jog? It seems infinitely safer and a better, more consistent workout and just as fast.Again… cool program. I hope it works to the point that it attracts significant private competition that does it better.Also…very well written post. The timeline/tweets is mui cool
Bikes at the gym are with a few exceptions a very poor workout. 1000x better to do half the time on the rowing machine or a series of intervals on the floor.BTW–The coolest thing about CitiBikes is that it’s fun!
Completely agree. Not much of a bike-workout guy myself.
how heavy are they
Good question–don’t know.
Pretty heavy. (40 lbs?) To compensate, perhaps, they are geared a little too light – the lowest gear is silly (picture running in place) and the top gear requires a pretty speedy cadence to maintain a safe-ish, keeping-up-with-flow, speed.I’m sure it was a fascinating challenge of balancing durability, accessibility and safety. They are in the ballpark, I’ve just become a bitchy new yorker, surrounded by bitchy new yorkers, who are all in a hurry : )That the gearing and pace of the bikes encourages me to head over to the hudson greenway bike path instead of straight up 6th ave, go a little slower, and appreciate a view . . . well, that’s probably a feature.
“do half the time on the rowing machine”‘Have one of these, nice enough (wooden) to put in any room, makes a nice soothing woosh as well, tilts up for storage easily:http://www.waterrower.com/
“But 2.1 miles….why not walk/jog?”Agree. The advantage of biking is strictly a time saver  but with a much greater risk of injury. Some people can’t jog obviously. Also you would get hotter jogging then riding a bike (not to mention you are air cooled when riding).Re: Speed, dovetails with when I would run on the boardwalk and pass bikers. It’s also a combination of “green theater” and “exercise theater”.
you ask a question, you get an answer. well played. as usual!
Interesting factoid about Beijing: In 2009, the number of bicycles in Beijing was around 13 million. But over the past 15 years the number of those bicycles being used for journeys on the streets of Beijing has dropped by more than half while the number of cars on Beijing’s streets has increased fivefold in the same period, adding an additional 4 million vehicles to the city’s 1,400 kms of roads. Now the government is trying to get people back on their bicycles.Here’s a cool song by Katie Melua – Nine Million Bicycles (in Beijing)http://soundcloud.com/kataa…
i am all for a bike-centric city. it’s the most efficient way to get aroundthat being said, i’m very nervous about how many novice bikers will be getting on bikes, on the streets of NYC, without helmets, and most importantly, without proper bike etiquettegoing the wrong way in bike lanes/up streets, wearing noise-canceling headphones, texting while riding… i’ve seen all of these and have almost been hit by some offenders. super dangerousi’m pro-bike, but people just need to follow the rules of the roadp.s. – most cabs are actually pretty bike friendly. buses on the other hand…
I’m pretty worried about that too but as with any new thing the city will adapt. Yes – there will likely be some accidents (hopefully none fatal) and some growing pains but ultimately we’ll figure out a way to coexist on the road.Educating riders about proper biking etiquette will be key (and that includes what not to do when in an actual bike lane).
Classic issue of worrying about the new dramatic risk vs. the far more dangerous steady killers that we’ve become accustomed to. The real and present aggregate danger is lack of exercise (diabetes and heart disease) and significantly, but slightly less worrisome in NYC, air pollution.21 cyclists were killed last year in NYC. 6x that number were killed while walking. Around 700 cyclists are killed in accidents per year in the US (almost 90% guys! we’re so awesome at offing ourselves). This is roughly the same number of people who die from choking on their food.More bikers will mean more people hurt on bikes, but we’re clumsy beasts in a pickle: moving is dangerous, but not nearly as dangerous as not moving. Also, don’t be a guy.
i hear where you’re coming from, but is the actual goal of Citibike to get people to exercise? i thought it was a transportation solution with a side of health benefitsmore guys ride bikes. just a numbers game
Classic stats fail.6x killed walking but what x walk rather than ride? 100 walkers for every biker I would guess….so then it becomes 17x more dangerous to bike than walk.700 cyclists killed in the US per year out of how many and how often, because food is consumed safely about 1 billion times per day in the US.Only 1 person died last year from playing Russian Roulette….does that prove it’s safe?
Sure, but my point was not that biking is “safe.” As individuals, we choose what we choose and rarely for a good reason. We obviously don’t all choose to walk everywhere. I often make approximately 17x riskier choices for expediency or fun. I run down subway stairs all the time. I’m sure this is a bad idea, but I prefer it to being late to dinner with my wife.At the level of policy, transportation choices have aggregate externalities, both sides of which should be considered. If the argument is that “this bike share is a bad idea because more people will get hurt by biking more” then my response is simply – everyone can continue to make their own decisions – policy should be determined by weighing additional societal harm against additional societal good. More exercise and less pollution is compelling to me on the good side. Emotionally, the good won’t stand up to a real or imagined bike crash, but it should be a math problem. (Done by someone good with stats.)
Well I agree with that (although I question why it’s more exercise to bike than to walk/jog)…. I just thought the way you presented the stats was implying that the activity isn’t really that much more dangerous, which it certainly is.
Boston’s got the helmet thing taken care of! Helmet Hub, startup out of Boston (whoop whoop) will have helmet dispensers popping up next to Hubway (our bike system) for $2 a rental. Grab one with your bike and when you’re done, return it to the dispenser and they clean it! (Not affiliated with these guys, they’re just in the accelerator we were in. #startuplove)http://www.bostonmagazine.c…
Not convinced that renting helmets is going to work for me or generally. Riding on a rented bike, I’m in. Putting a used helmet on–not certain. Like renting wetsuits. Just don’t do it.
Well speaking as someone who often buys used as well as makes less money than you (assumption), I rent things all the time. And not sure I buy the comparison since a wet suit gets WAY more intimate with a person. haha But I know people that do that all the time too.
You can dry clean a shirt or a coat. How do you sanitize a bike helmet?But–each to their own. This has nothing to do with dollars.I’m going to track down the lightest smallest but still safe helmet and hang it off my pack as my solution.
“How do you sanitize a bike helmet?”Anyone who has never dealt with children who come home from school with “nits” doesn’t understand this point. After you have spent hours pouring through a kids hair because they are infected and you see the tumult that the whole school goes through they will understand.People have made businesses out of it, it’s that big of a deal:http://www.licemedic.comhttp://www.liceliftersnewje…http://www.licebegone.net
Nits have become adapted to clean hair. Fortunately I have such little hair it poses no problemQuote from CDC “Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice.”http://www.cdc.gov/parasite…
I don’t know their process. The machine is a dispenser, but they sanitize it away from the station. They have meters that say when the helmets are almost gone, so I see them visiting the stations must like the bike people visit the stations to balance out the # of bikes.I guess if I knew I was going to bike a lot, I’d keep a helmet at home and one at work. But whenever I’ve used a bike system in like Denver or Boston, I’ve done it spur of the moment. It wasn’t premeditated.
Super helpful info. Thanks.
Agree. That’s us. We were raised to get skeeved by things like that.Story: In my house we never had leftovers (it’s a survivor thing I guess – always eat fresh food). Anyway I dated a girl a few years ago and brought home some food from the restaurant. Her father (who was much younger than my father and from a different generation) told me that if I didn’t want the leftover he would eat it. I said fine and he did. It then became a ritual I would bring home leftovers and he would eat them. To me it was shocking.Now there is nothing right or wrong about this of course. But the idea of eating someone’s leftover the way I was raised would be like using someone’s toothbrush (ok maybe not that bad but you get the point).(At this point anyone can chime in about how spoiled I/we are and how there are people starving who go through trash etc to survive – so go for it if it makes you feel better – I was raised by someone who was that person at one point in his life.)
There is huge risk here beyond cleanliness. A crashed helmet is no good anymore but it isn’t always obvious that it has been crashed.
I can’t say I know the answer, actually just tweeted and asked… will also see them around the office… but I’m sure it’s crossed their minds and has been asked by the people they’ve pitched to. Will report back!
i would do that
I like Andy’s observation yesterday that (for the moment, at least), Citibikes feel kind of like a public art project.I find myself more aware of the places I usually don’t pay any attention to, half watching for the stations, or one of the bikes to roll by. And they generate the kinds of interactions that you had yesterday, an almost holiday feel.https://twitter.com/aweissm…
a public art project we can participate in
Despite the fact I don’t comment enough on this site, I hate to be the lone voice of discontent. While I love the idea of biking, from many perspectives, I don’t feel New York is structurally a city built for biking. One might say neither is London. But London is more spread out with larger streets and more parks. Amsterdam none of them are.I think there will be accidents. I think people who don’t know the city will rent them and they will ride the wrong way down the wrong streets. Think about how many accidents the bike messengers have each year. People won’t wear helmets, they will impulsively rent a bike and bingo, that’s the time something happens.I think there are certain parts of the city it’s safer, the West Village, East Village, Central Park, but riding down clogged, gridlocked, big city streets at rush hour, when nobody is looking out for cars, much less bikers and pedestrians is I think going to be a dangerous situation. While the bike lanes that exist are a good size, so many streets do not have them and NY drivers are not known for adhering to any lane rules.Everyone I know in NY who rode bikes eventually gave it up due to some bad encounter with a bigger form of transportation. Just saying.
I have had similar thoughts. Even in Toronto, I thought twice about renting one downtown. More bike lanes, more awareness, more respectful drivers, etc…all needed.
You can wait till things are perfect and then change and new stuff will just never happen.My sense is that this will be a huge success.I haven’t seen any data that states that they work in Paris but not in Vienna or Brussels. The motivation is not the place it’s that people just like it, wherever they are.
Yup…there will be wipe outs.But to say that that is the reason not to do this, I don’t buy it. I bike ever where in the city. No wipe outs yet thankfully.I think NY is just a great match for bikes cause its a great way to get around. No worse than the Marais in Paris honestly.Nothing is perfect. But picking up a bike at one spot and leaving it at another to eat out, meet friends, or whatever feels close.
I respect everyone’s right to make their own choices. I think the “There will be wipe outs” is a bit cavalier. If it’s one of your kids or you or your friends and they end up in a coma or without a limb you might feel differently. The fact that they have these bikes without helmet rentals at the same place is plain dangerous and it’s also sending the message that helmets are not important. We are exposing you to open traffic in a city that is not remotely laid back ( while I would not bike in the Marais either despite the narrow streets it’s not as chaotic as Manhattan) I get the impulse behind it, I don’t think it is implemented well and I predict several disastrous fallouts. Then they might rethink it, but at what cost? We haven’t even gotten to the drunk person stumbling out of Pastis at two am and climbing on one.
Nothing cavalier in my attitude in the least. I’m just a realist.I bike often. Helmet always. I’ll find a way to carry a helmet with me on citibike someway.Where we don’t agree is that anything is implemented perfectly. And that includes safety, health, car inspections and the like.Although honestly people with passion like yourself about its risk may just be what is needed to get helmet rental in place sooner. That’s good news.For me NY with bike share is a better place to live and to visit. I’m all in.
If everyone renting one took the safety measures you are would ride with common sense and knowing the city, I might not be as concerned. I just saw three really young helmet less guys on 18th St. climb on the bikes and zip off right into traffic oncoming traffic without even looking. I’m not sure anyone’s passion will change a thing. Bloomberg makes up his mind and he usually gets what he wants.I don’t think the horses and carriages belong on the streets either and have been vocal online and with the anti- carriage groups and that has not moved one bit. Ah well, It keeps it lively and I love the dialogues that Fred’s site ignites. They are always interesting with bright people. Stay safe! Look both ways!
Thanks!I do look both ways. I haven’t gone down yet but I enjoy it more than I’m afraid of it I guess.( Funny, I rode motorcycles for a long time, finally said no more cause I couldn’t trust my focus.)Re: horses. I’m with you 100%.And of course you are right. People will do stupid thoughtless stuff. They do now with bikes they own and can rent. With cars. And generally with their lives.And of course NYC is as intense, and dense, and frenetic a place as there is (Asia excluded of course). I just don’t think the answer is not to have it especially as no one has figured out the helmet issue on bike share.A pleasure–followed one of the threads and read some of your posts. A word maven you are. Me just a too occasional blogger.
On that basis we would wrap ourselves in cotton wool, not ski, drive, swim, eat or indeed live. Life carries risk – I think with respect those that can deal with that unavoidable fact get to live fuller ones. Obviously tragedies happen and they are just that – tragic and deserve sympathy . But never risking anything is a sure greater tragedy IMHO
As someone who was hit by a car on a walking path and told I would never regain full use of my right arm I understand your comment.That is a point and not a line and people are free to do what they want within the law and it does sound like a great idea just to grab a bike.Mine ends happily as I made a full recovery after three months of going to a place where the sign over the front door said: “Pain is temporary, Pride is forever”
Riding bikes in cities is a risk. Just the way it is.I just love this idea and been a big user of this type of thing in most every European city I travel to.
I agree. I was just saying I understand her comment.I love riding mopeds in Greece, also a risk. Just the way it is.
Of course…her point of view holds a lot of sense.And honestly in NYC, riding bikes is an exercise in deep focus especially downtown. We have miles of bike lanes, we also have thousands of trucks parking in every one making deliveries all the times. That’s the danger zone.
You might appreciate this guy’s story, given your experience: http://startingstrength.com…
i don’t bike much anymore, but i spent 12 years or so using a bike as my primary mode of transport in boston, dc, and then a bit in new york. i’ve been hit a few times by cabs and random cars, but luckily no serious injuries.i think like anything else you need to figure out your tolerance for risk, but i think citibike is an important declaration by the city that ‘we like bikes” and I think that traffic will adjust.The thing I am surprised about is that there is not more emphasis on wearing a helmet. Sounds like there is no good solution, and ultimately it is every rider’s choice, but I would put helmetless bike riders as a bigger worry than super-size sodas.
Tracey, I just want to say that I loved The Guru.
Thank you so much William. I love to hear that. Stay safe!
Agree but most importantly it’s a small chance of a really bad thing happening.But even if it’s not a “really bad” thing, depending on your age and other health conditions an accident can cause a chain reaction of other events that create a bigger problem. This is something people don’t realize.You break a bone and then you can’t exercise until you heal. You pull a muscle and then you are in pain and you can’t exercise the same way for a year (this happens when you get older you don’t heal the same way someone younger does.)Small example – I used to do 18 pull ups with my legs out. Had a chinup bar at the office. One day I pulled a shoulder muscle doing that. So no problem I waited for it to heal. But the muscle also prevented me from sleeping a certain way and I had bad sleep literally for months. When I thought it healed I went back to the pull ups. Within a week I had pulled it again. Took about 7 or 8 months again to partially heal. Same issue with sleep. Years later I still can’t do certain things with my arms. All as a result of that one overexertion with exercise.I know of one person who had a great marriage (told this story before) and then he hurt his back doing some sport. They gave him pain killers and he got addicted. Entire life changed. Literally became a bum, got divorced not sure what he is doing now (not a friend an acquaintance).So to me I can almost definitely say that beyond a certain age this is probably not a thing that someone should do that it’s taking a risk not worth taking.Over time also people will get sloppier with the safety as they drive more. So even though the skill level will increase they will be more on auto pilot and be less aware and in a trance and unable to avoid problems.
I think you’re right. The funniest thing to me is that if this was a private company, you KNOW that Bloomberg would be shutting them down for not having the helmet thing figured out.As soon as one wreck happened, the private company would be sued out of business.But since it’s the city doing it, everything is sunshine and unicorns, and only “intent” matters.
?To my knowledge no one has figured out the helmet thing in the US or Europe. If anyone had, everyone would have a solution to use.I’m a bike rider. I wear a helmet. It’s smart.Just that no one has yet on the bike share circuit. Nothing to do with Bloomberg.
I’m just assuming that private bike share stuff hasn’t been successful for a reason…
Don’t know.I just blissfully enjoy it wherever find it. And look to it as a solution personally for West to East downtown travel where no subways really do the trick and I don’t want to schlepp a chain for my own bike around.
The fact that it seems every accident implies some liability can be a real damper on innovation.The latin “caveat emptor” (buyer beware) should apply. A reasonable adult knows that cycling has hazards and so do car drivers.The choice is yours – you pay your money and you take your chance.So when it goes wrong – don’t blame the rental outfit.
It’s privately owned and for-profit. Google Alta Bike Share. And get your facts straight.
Good deal! Why is the nanny involved
Lots of racks are on public land, plus it’s positioned as the logical use of all those new bike lanes, so i believe there were some new laws/regulations passed to enable that usage… I assume you mean the mayor, btw.
I would love to take a bike safety/riding tactics class — real life, not classroom — with someone who has been riding in the city for years. I am athletic and in good shape, but I am in no way mentally prepared to ride a bike in NYC.The bike share is a great idea. May everyone ride safely.
we have to take the city back from the cars. this is a first step.
We just shared a win at today at O’Reilly Fluent Conf in SF with Scoot http://fluentconf.com/fluen…I think that scooters are a great “middle of the road” solution for a lot of towns – more info here http://www.scootnetworks.com/But when it comes to environmental impact – nothing beats cycling or “hoofing it”.A lot of Swiss towns have free bike “hire” like Zurich and a local sponsor gets the green credits !http://www.stadt-zuerich.ch…
Motor vehicles are what deliver fruits, vegetables, jewelry, cosmetics, iPhones, Louis Vuitton bags and an endless array of goods to the city. Unless the city begins growing its own food and manufacturing its own goods, a large number of vehicles will always be in the city.
yup. but take back the city means change the proportions. the scandinavian countries have already done that.
lol and the average Scandanavian ass compared to an American shows the results……..but their bikers also know to stop at red lights.
72 hours in, 1st casualty: http://t.co/ClWD4f69MB
Anything I can say will sound smug. I’m glad he is alright. I hope it does not become an epidemic.
This is a valid concern but is largely a misconception that one city should be for driving and another for other transit forms. The biggest thing about cycling is that it becomes safer as more people ride, regardless if there are dedicated bike lanes or congested streets.There are a lot of data on this subject, but here’s one report focusing on NY in particular: http://www.streetsblog.org/…
I think there will be accidents. I think people who don’t know the city will rent them and they will ride the wrong way down the wrong streets.The same can be said of cars.
It’s almost as good as walking!Love that it’s live and here in NYC
That reminds me of a photo of you and Lukasz on Berlin’s Call-A-Bike from, what, 5 years ago? Welcome to the future, NYC :)Here’s your blog post on it: http://avc.blogs.com/a_vc/2…
that was an awesome day in berlin
Still waiting for my membership. Totally fired up. I think everybody should carry a helmet attached to their bags otherwise I’m worried the program is going to get crushed before it even gets started.
that’s a good point. Do they offer them?
Is the primary reason people currently don’t ride bikes that much in NYC a lack of available bicycles? Seems unlikely.I suspect the real reason is that there’s a ton of traffic. Lots of one way streets. Potholes. Dodgy weather in the northeast for much of the year. I get bike lanes help, but is it smart to give up a lane of traffic that will be largely under-utilized December-March? Biking in May is lovely, biking in January sucks.
I think eliminating the need to store or lock up your personal bike every time you stop somewhere is a big deal. Lots of people don’t have bike storage at the office, and don’t want to lock their bike outdoors for 8 hours a day.
To me one of the advantages of biking is that I don’t have to park 3 blocks away or walk to the subway. If I want to stop somewhere to go into a store where there is not a Citibike rack how do I do it?
There’s a bike rack on every other block or so — I doubt that will be an issue. If you rode a “regular” bike now you’d still have to chain it somewhere to go into a store.
Removing a lane of traffic is a pretty good way to disincentivise car use – which is a good thing. Too snowy for the bike? Take the subway.
Storage is the only reason I don’t own a bike any more. I’ve owned two, both stolen in front of my apartment. Now I live on a fourth floor walk-up. No way I’m carrying a bike up stairs every day.
Ok time to learn how to balance on a bike – (which is why probably the stationary bikes are possible)Also, exepnsive helmet but packable: http://www.hovding.com/
Balancing on a bike is completely dependent on forward momentum. Just get going down a slight hill and you’ll get it. It’s impossible if you’re not moving at a decent pace.
“Gee! Those bikes look familiar”, says I. And so they should — Alta Bicycle Share runs the Melbourne Bike Share too!
And the Brisbane one which I love.
I am not overstating it when I say stuff like this gives me hope for humanity. I can’t wait to try it.
Humanity is doing better than ever.
It’s just all the noise and garbage and bullshit and sickness is happening en mass … need to clean that up.
Somebody needs to watch some cat videos, stat.
Just what the Dr ordered 🙂 This one’s all in the toes.
And Green Markets!
me too Kirsten
The helmet is the real issue I see. Solve that, and this looks even better. I don’t let my kids ride without one. My 19 year old, still remembers trying to ride his bike and walking (running) the dog, when the dog saw a squirrel and changed course, sending him flying over the bike. Cracked his helmet, so we figure he avoided a concussion that day.I grew up riding without a helmet, but I also grew riding in cars w/o a seatbelt or car seats.
Ditto. I was about to write the same thing about helmets and seat belts.
My biggest problem with helmets is one of vanity — the combo of normal street clothes (e.g. for daily commute or catchup with friends) and super-sporty foam helmet that is best matched with racing spandex is not optimal. Then I found these folks who not only make the bike helmet a part of your outfit but a nice accessory: http://www.casquenville.com/ (and there are several others like them).I’ll be the fashion police on two wheels 🙂
From NYC DOT “Among the fatalities with documented helmet use, 97% of the bicyclists were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Only 4 bicyclists who died (3%) were wearing a helmet. All child or teen bicyclists who died were not wearing helmets.”
look for an invisible bike helmet – this video is amazing on so many levels – http://vimeo.com/43038579
a TARP bike. How quaint.
haha. Citifield and Citibikes — the legacy of too big to fail!
you are too good howard. a master at this game.
That’s pretty awesome. I’d bike to work but I can’t figure out how to avoid the sketchy part of the city on my way downtown. Ironically, I used to live in said sketchy part of the city and it’s one of the reasons I know to avoid it.
My wife and I actually have an acquaintance who lost her husband to a biking accident here in the city; I would love to bike around the city, but even with the bike lanes it still seems to dangerous. Maybe in a couple of years.
I rode a Hubway bike all around Boston for one fall and one spring, sometimes in a skirt and heels just to Amsterdam-ify my surroundings. My love tweets to @Hubway got a little embarrassing, though. When you find yourself tweeting to a brand after a while you get like, okay, that’s enough.
if I didn’t have my nose in my phone I could have figured that out by looking up.##ifihadglass I would wear them on the subway too – Fred Wilson Feb 20th
I’ll tell you another issue re: visibility…Neither the bikes themselves nor the docking station where each bike is placed bears instructions as to how to pay/unlock them. (There’s just a tel # to ‘report problems’ and there’s a ‘Visa/Mastercard’ sticker) I spent a good minute and a half the other day on Fifth Ave and 29th Street trying to figure out how to unlock one. Looked at next bike, And next bike. Thought ‘That’s ridiculous!’ Gave up. Went into the nearby Subway store to order sandwich. Sat at table. Looked out window. Noticed kiosk at the end of the long line of bikes. Silly to have missed it. Yet I missed it. Weird that they don’t have this basic instruction on there. “Hey Dummy, Look for the nearby kiosk”.
Did anyone see the movie Premium Rush. It has crazy bike pursuits in Manhattan. http://www.imdb.com/title/t…
I did. Fun movie.
Actually, there’s a great scene right around Madison Sq park near your office, Fred.
Airbag helmet – http://www.hovding.com/en/f…
You and I previously discussed the meeting you had with city transportation officials.So this, and the big investment in bike lanes a few years back, is what the city had in mind when they told you that they don’t really care about motorcycle/scooter parking (in contrast to say, San Francisco) and just want everyone to ride bikes. I’m still not confident about that either/or decision. Bikes and scooters serve somewhat different needs.
i rode my vespa today. so great.
I Scooted all over SF today.But nothing beats scooting the Boros on a late May day.
The program is ambitious and impressive, and I’d love to see it thrive. I’m dubious for some very obvious reasons:NYC weather is so fickle. Winter and any kind of snow and ice rules out 2-wheelers. Then there’s mid-summer heat and humidity and you’ll wind up at your destination drenched in sweat– we should all expect a sharp increase in the bad smell factor 🙂 And of course, it can always rain. Copenhagen and Amsterdam have long had shared bikes: it does rain a lot but their winters/summers aren’t nearly as extreme as NYC.Motorcycles/scooters are much better, sweat-wise, and of course distance-wise.Then there’s the 30 minute rule where they charge you if you don’t drop off the bike in half an hour– what the hell?? People are going to stop and ask you about the bike, like they did with you today– don’t they want you to be able to do this without saying you need to run to drop it off?How these bikes are going to survive punishing weather, and vandalism, is something else I’m keen to see. My experience keeping scooters on the sidewalk has suffered both menaces.But I’m sure that Citibike has thought of all of that. As with any program, we’ll see how it works out.
If they have thought it out, I would love to know the assumptions about rate of stolen/destroyed bikes.
I don’t care much about the assumptions as they are just guesses– I am sure that this element will be 1 of those areas where you just don’t really know how people will behave until you see it in use over time.It reminds me of craigslist and ebay at their beginnings, when the critics assumed that users would behave nefariously. But there was just no way to know how that part would pan out. And somehow things mostly have worked out well, at least within those 2 platforms. With citibike, we’ll just have to see.I can tell you stories you wouldn’t believe re weird unexpected shit that’s happened to my motorbikes in the past. For example, someone randomly sprayed ketchup 1 night all over all the motorbikes they could find on an East Village street. Random.
it’ll be interesting to see. from what i understand, the rate of replacement of bikes has varied dramatically from cities in China on the low-end to cities like Paris on the high-end. What I don’t know is what part of that was culture and what part was when these programs were launched and subsequent learnings incorporated into later launches.my brain tells me that these bikes will disappear, get destroyed pretty quickly here from my own experience with my own bikes in nyc, boston, and DC. I really hope that I am wrong.
“I need an inflatable helmet in my pocket solution.”Portable blinking lights as well, front and back.
The bikes in Boston have lights on them… not sure about NY…
I stand corrected: they do have blinking lights, front and back, yes. Missed that the first time I looked. Good!
If there’s no lights, that’s a problem. Evenings, you’re going to have people trying to ride them. (“What the hell. Car drivers will see me!”) Should be easy though to have a built in on/off dynamo, powered by the rotating tyre?
One wordy – sweaty.Healthy? Yes. Appropriate for most people going to most meetings?No.
We change our definition of appropriate then!
Biking on the busiest streets with some of the most obnoxious drivers in the world isn’t what I would call healthy behavior.
This hits home with me because I did a project in college called Bike Locker. The idea was to provide secure, clean and convenient bike storage for commuters in urban areas and on college campuses.The model included a subscription service, premium upgrades and the earliest form of mobile payments — I had spoken to Wells Fargo about payment via SMS at the time.(Side note: funny how the banks are always involved here.)I had planned on partnering with parking companies, municipalities and campuses.Frankly, it was a cool idea that was just a bit ahead of its time. I thought seriously about pursuing the idea after graduation but ultimately passed.Similar (real) companies have emerged in Calif. and Japan since.But initiatives like Citibike and others in Europe are the next evolution. The access and technology make it a better model.
30 minutes sounds a bit short. Here in Stockholm we have a 3 hour limit. Mamils beware!
This may exist already but this post screams for the need for an aggregator for transportation options that would do the analysis you did but also include all the on-demand transport and other options so you just get from point a to point b fastest. (google maps does the best job of this i’ve seen so far but is obviously very incomplete)
Inflatable helmets? No way!
bet on it
HelmetHub from Boston is also working on a solution for helments.http://www.helmet-hub.com/
no hailo? 😉
cabs are my fifth option in the summer after walking, biking, scootering, and subwaying
Education regarding bike safety (helmets!) and obeying traffic laws (cars can’t run red lights … bikes can’t either!!) is necessary. Bloomberg is perfectly positioned to do that.
Who do you sue if you are injured by a citibiker?Who do you sue if you injure yourself riding a citibike?Bloomberg? Citibank? NYC? i am not touching one of these bikes until i know my liabilities.
We have had this in Boston for quite some time (it’s called Hubway), and it’s terrific. However, the benefits you mentioned also come with bike ownership, which is probably a better value on an annual basis (no question it is on a per day basis). Anyway, it’s funny that it takes technology like this to make people realize how awesome and healthy biking is, and how valuable it is to be able to bike for your commute.Also ironic that the truly unique benefits of Citibike, Hubway, etc, weren’t mentioned at all. Things such as free bike maintenance, accessibility for tourists, etc…
Looking forward to having some on the Upper West Side some day.
i am sure it will come
Does The New Yorker turn a profit, or is it a halo brand subsidized by Conde Nast?
not a new yorker. looked at the citibike station map. why are there none above the southern end of central park?
that’s a feature not a bug 🙂
says you – I’m out in queens and I wouldn’t mind more out here
I do not think the intention is to keep it below the park forever – they just preferred to keep it really dense within one part of the city at first, rather than sparse throughout the whole city. Check back in a year or two and I’d expect it to cover more of the city.
In no way are you ever “timing it right” with the NYC subways. Do they follow an accurate schedule? No. It’s pure luck when you get off one train and the other is there for you.
getting better but not great yet
How’s the air quality at street level? Not that good I would bet. I wouldn’t want to breathe more low quality air than needed, but that’s what happens when you do sport (bike or running) near car traffic.
not great, but the same air i breathe on my vespa
Flashback from 2008:”The manufacture of bicycles seems to be a recession proof business, because more people are buying bicycles than ever before.””http://phonkmeister.com/pos…Post-Katrina New Orleanshttp://ecolocalizer.com/200…It doesn’t feel like things have changed in the slightest since then.Some economists say this is what a depression looks like, with lipstick in the stock market.When oil was at $80 it looked like it might not reach $100, and you said you weren’t sure about bikes catching on in the US.Here we are now. More and more bikes.It’d be interesting to see actual data on how the bikes industry has evolved in the intervening time.
See, it only took you two days to figure out a mobile strategy that didn’t involve Google.
Safety will be a concern, unfortunately something bad is bound to happen eventually. And if the program really is popular, will it be possible to serve a city of 8 million people with enough bikes? Or will you run into a situation where u can’t just ever get a bike. And what about winter? Snow? I tried the bike program in Miami, on SoBe, and thought it was great. But that’s a much smaller population of people, and a much better overall climate, so it kind of makes sense there. In London, apparently 2/3 of the bikes had to be repaired in the first 6 months. But it seems the program remains popular there (then again it’s a city that also has congestion pricing). I hope it works out in NYC but I’m not too certain.
Must see this. 29 cities with bike-sharing programs, mapped at scale http://ilovecharts.tumblr.c…
instant reblog on fredwilson.vc
Cool. I re-tumbled it last eve.
There’s a school of thought and even some evidence that helmets do more harm then good when it comes to urban biking and safety. http://www.nytimes.com/2012…
Every first Thursday of the month, we do a team lunch, with the venue selected by a member of the team representing the cuisine of their native country/region.So yesterday, eight of us piled into two taxis to take the trip from the Varick Incubator to Dervish on 47th between 6th and 7th to sample some Turkish cuisine. The spot was chosen by our intern Aykut from Turkey.Per my Moves.app, it took 20 minutes to go uptown. And 25 minutes going back, with each trip costing about $22 each way for a total of $88 for the whole team, just $7 bucks shy of a CitiBike annual membership.This was the first time we arranged transportation for the team lunch, since typically, we’d just walk around SoHo to find a place. But the shortlisted destinations for the next few team lunches are well beyond walking distance.My co-founder and I both have Citibike annual memberships and we were discussing last night during our daily brainstorming walk around the block that perhaps one perk we can give our team are Citibike memberships.We figured it was a very affordable perk, even for a scrappy startup like us, that our employees, even our summer interns – students on a tight budget, would find very useful. Especially since all of them are NYU-Poly students living around the campus.It will even help with the team-building effort as we create a “bike-train” during our monthly outings :)And you may want to check out folding helmets. There are several on the market. I actually bought a Biologic Pango Folding Helmet (http://www.thinkbiologic.co… on eBay from a Hongkong seller (they’re not available in the US).It works as advertised but doesnt fit me :(Anybody interested in a brand new, white Pango folding helmet? 😉
Live in DC, program has been up and running here for a while – a great benefit – New Yorkers will learn to love this!
has anyone thought about the germs on the handlebars?
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Curious what your travel time would have been if you walked.
41 mins according to google maps
Biking to work becomes a lot more reasonable if the workplace has showers. It’s tough to professional, or even productive, when you’re wearing a sweaty film. I speak from experience.
Most expensive “non action” I ever had was not pushing the “buy” button on MBA.com (my initials), could have had it for $10 or so. Finally sold for $1m I think.
I was my sons hockey practice this past weekend and was telling another dad (great friend – we both use to work at Targus) about Citibikes. He is still a sales person at Targus and is regularly in NYC…Earlier this week he sent me a txt – saying “Now I see what you mean! – Citi Bikes – he attached this photo – It was classic – big rack of citibikes in front of Fred’s bank – Chase
Fred, I was in Mexico City this week. when I was last there in February, their bike share partisan was just started and there were full racks of bikes everywhere. this trip I saw the bike share bikes all throughput the city, and half-empty racks everywhere, meaning that people are using the bikes…a lot. Fast adoption like this is a good sign for the NYC program.