In a time when there are so many options for getting around the urban landscape (walking, subway, e-bikes, e-scooters, Yellow Cabs, Uber, Lyft, Juno etc), you would think that the six year old Citibike service in NYC would be “old hat.”

But it remains one of my favorite things about living in NYC. The addition of bike lanes all over lower Manhattan (where I live and work) has made biking a lot safer and pedestrians are increasingly aware of the bike paths and the bikers on them.

The kiosk system, vs the dockless system that many of the newer offrrings use, has some challenges around trying to dock in a full kiosk at the end of your ride, but it is much preferable for the tidy/neat nature of the bikes.

Citibikes are particularly great for the one to two mile journey that would take 20-30mins to walk but 5-10 mins to bike.

I did that this morning from this kiosk in the west village to the Union Square neighborhood.

It took me 7 minutes and I was early enough to my meeting that I had time to get a cup of coffee before the meeting.

I honestly don’t think there is a better way to get around NYC for short distances on a lovely spring day. It is one of the things that makes living in NYC so enjoyable.


Comments (Archived):

  1. OurielOhayon

    except when rain, like last week!

  2. DH

    I just want to give a shoutout to the Citibike Bike Angels program which gives you points for picking up a bike at a full station and/or dropping off a bike at an empty station. The full/empty docking station thing can be frustrating and it’s cool that Citibike is trying to alleviate the issue by incentivizing users (in addition to their other solutions like having employees shift bikes around with trucks or having valet stations).

  3. GruppeC956

    Couldn’t agree more – I even maintain my Citibike membership although I don’t live in NYC anymore and only get to use it 1-2 weeks a year. Still totally worth it.

  4. Bert Forsythe

    Preach! I was there when Citibike was rolled/rolling out and it made life immediately, immensely better. In addition to the awesome use case for going short distances quickly, it particularly helped in connecting places the MTA didn’t service well. (e.g. cross-town in Brooklyn or away from 14th or 42nd).

  5. awaldstein

    So agree Fred.Agreed back then as well.…With the water taxi system and docks everywhere at every stop from everywhere in Brooklyn to Jersey City, it just really works.

  6. kenberger

    Yeah sure, I guess; it’s the only option *in NYC* so of course it competes well with the non-bicycle options… I’m just feeling jaded using constantly the multiple other dynamic competitive options in so many other cities around the world. Other more nimble, cheaper bicycles, assisted power options, sit down and stand up scooters, etc etc– I personally cannot pedal those very heavy citibikes over the bridge inclines!Another element is the risk the Monopoly model leaves: I’m thinking of Paris, go there today and you see all these nasty abandoned electric car parking spots just sitting there for several years now, since that service went bankrupt.

    1. awaldstein

      they have electric assist ones here in NY but for the life of me can’t figure out the logic of where they real hills though so never feel the need for them.

      1. kenberger

        try citibikng over the Williamsburg bridge on any humid night in July, and you’ll quickly realize the merits of power assist.

        1. awaldstein

          point well taken. Brooklyn Bridge has an arc to it as well.though i’m a biker–on my own bike–often for exercise. tribeca to GW often.around the island not as often as I like. to brooklyn to meet in the park with friends a more often goal this year.

      2. Lance

        Citibike announced a month or so ago that they’ve taken all electric assist bikes off the road because a few people flipped over the handlebars when trying to stop short. The company managing the program realized (duh) they had better do something to address the brakes or people will be injured or worse. They didn’t change the brakes when they retrofitted the bikes for power assist!

        1. awaldstein


  7. leeschneider

    Helmet hopefully?

  8. Mike Zamansky

    But where are your Bike Angel points?????Best way to get around even in bad weather. I don’t think I’ve taken the subway more than twice this year.I also don’t think I’ve ridden my bike at all since last summer – CitiBike is just too convenient for shopping and parking and not lugging around a Marley’s Ghost worth of chains.

  9. jason wright

    Are they all the same size and saddle height?

    1. crazytrainmatt

      Yes but citibike is one of the only systems whose saddles extend high enough to satisfy a tallish NBA player.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Hmmm, Divvy isn’t in Chicago. I’d be a shortish NBA player (6’5″)

        1. crazytrainmatt

          You won’t even have the seat up to the max on citibike, especially if it’s the 2nd gen bikes or later 🙂

  10. Anne Augusta Blum

    Biking around NYC in theory sounds great, but in practice, I think it’s still way too dangerous. I think many more people would bike – and New Yorkers would overall have a higher quality of life – if NYC closed some streets to cars permanently.

  11. Lance

    Citibike power user here, have 2K miles logged and also use my own bike daily. It’s a fantastic way to get around the city, but it is dangerous for sure. Someone needs to come up with a viable solution for short-term helmet usage. Too many people riding without them. A month ago I watched a guy flip his Citibike and land on his head. Without a helmet, he’s no more. This morning from Columbus Circle to NoHo I was able to use the bike lane for about 1/4 of the ride. Trucks in the bike lane are a constant nuisance. If you’ve ever tried to bike uptown on 8th Avenue during rush hour, it’s like Frogger. Cyclists need to respect the laws and frequently don’t. That’s a real problem, especially now that so many are powered. Now this:

    1. awaldstein

      good point.i never take my bike out without a helmet.often though on citibikes i do. i shouldn’t obviously.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Wait until you get scooters and people take them home at night….orthopedic guys will be busy!

        1. awaldstein

          Use scooters in LA all the time.Can’t see dockless anything working in the density of downtown NY honestly.

    2. scottythebody

      Agree about the helmets, though. I saw some pretty cool kickstarter / fundme/gogo things that seem promising in that regard.I always wear a helmet on my own bike. Too much riding on me being able to use my head (it’s how I earn my family’s money). And I have refused many “let’s grab a scooter” offers for the same reason.Anecdotally, I have seen so many bad things happen to people who don’t wear helmets, including a guy here in Vienna who is no longer able to practice medicine nor remember most of his life due to a scooter fall last year.

  12. Mac

    Still rolling without a crash helmet. And, on the streets of New York. Must be that VC, ‘risk averse’ mindset.

  13. jason wright…”If a user does not re-dock their bike within a certain time limit—45 minutes for members or 30 minutes for non-members—they may be charged $2.50 for every 15 minutes of further use.[99] If a bike is not returned at all within 24 hours, a maximum “late fee” of $1,200 can be charged,[100] though the fine may be reduced based on financial circumstances.”

    1. awaldstein

      seems fair to me

      1. jason wright

        “The kiosk system, vs the dockless system that many of the newer offrrings use, has some challenges around trying to dock in a full kiosk at the end of your ride”Fair, up to a point. No empty dock = time limit ‘late fee’?Ideally i would always want to ride my own bicycle. Not feasible when on trips. I’ve used hire bikes in foreign cities. It’s fun, but trying to get used to being on the wrong side of the road and lane and pathway is a bit ‘edgy’. The locals ‘know it’, and so they always go and want to go ever faster. It’s a pulsing rhythm.

  14. goldwerger

    I love Citibike. I also loved their recent electric powered ones which extended the range dramatically, but sadly they pulled those off the market until after summer due to tech issues with the breaks… that will be a small game changer

  15. pointsnfigures

    We have Divvy in Chicago. Bikes are too small for me so I take my own. They also don’t turn a profit yet. Perhaps they should charge more. Freemium model doesn’t work here!

    1. jason wright

      Is it safety certified?

      1. Gregory Cohen


  16. sigmaalgebra

    You invest over much of the developed world. So, why live/work in super crowded, expensive lower Manhattan? 50, 100, 150 miles south, west, or north gives much less crowding, lots more nature, no parking problems, much lower cost of living, lots more kids, dogs, cats, etc. Still have Internet, Web, Skype, access to airports, etc.

  17. Brook Shepard

    I agree Fred, and I use a Citibike practically every day to go from Carrol Gardens to Red Hook BUT… local bike shops are having a hard time staying open. It’s getting more difficult to find a good mechanic, because Citibike (apparently) hires them all away. Such is life.

  18. Ian Chapman-Banks

    I have done the same in Singapore. You can bike from the cbd by the river out to many of the outlying areas in one case right by the river and never go on a road.A great way to travel

  19. QJH

    I would love to see account reciprocity built across city program. Economics can remain the distinct, but the simple act of a single source dashboard and checkout would lower the barrier to choosing the bike and building the loyalty of the mode.I recall reading or hearing an opinion (maybe even here) that the bike is the best way to get to know a city and it’s so true: Fast enough to cover plenty of ground without tire and slow enough to see, hear, and feel the community.

  20. Jim Frank

    As a NYC resident and former city biker (it just got too scary and too dangerous), I’d love it if the city became more bike-smart and bike-friendly. However, that won’t happen until bicyclists–many of whom seem to be visitors who use Citibike and rent from others, but messengers and locals, as well–learn and follow the laws. This from the city’s website:Cyclists have all the rights and are subject to all of the duties and regulations applicable to drivers of motor vehicles.-Ride in the street, not on the sidewalks (unless rider is age 12 or younger and the bicycle’s wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter).-Ride with traffic, not against it.-Stop at red lights and stop signs. Obey alltraffic signals, signs and pavement markings, and exercise due care toavoid colliding with pedestrians, motor vehicles or other cyclists. -At red lights, wait for the green unless you see a sign that says “BIKESUSE PED SIGNAL.” -Use marked bike lanes or paths when available, except when making turns or when it is unsafe to do so. If the road istoo narrow for a bicycle and a car to travel safely side by side, you have the right to ride in the middle of the travel lane. Bicycling is permitted on all main and local streets throughout the City, even when no designated route exists.-Use a white headlight and a red taillight, as well as a bell or horn and reflectors.The one that makes me the most nuts is not riding on the sidewalk, and while I don’t mind the dirty looks (and dirtier words) shot at me when I point this out to errant riders, it doesn’t seem to stop them or the peril they create for pedestrians and themselves. I don’t think Citibike tells its riders about these laws nor do other rental companies, and only rarely does NYPD do anything (yes, of course, they have other things to do). But if you’re going to ride in a not-yet-bike-ready city like NYC, you, the rider, must be responsible.