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Bike Share Program Assessment

What has NYC learned after 100 days of bike share, known as Citi Bike? The program was instantly popular, with neighborhoods begging for their own bike-rack installations. Ridership has exceeded expectations — significantly. But, there have been growing pains as well.

On some days, there just were not enough bicycles, catching the operator by surprise. It took a while for the so-called rebalancing system – moving bikes from where they were turned in to locations where they were needed – to work smoothly, adding to the problem of not having enough bicycles in some locations.

Figuring out exactly who is using the bicycles has not been easy, and initial surveys are not yet completed. The Department of Health is working on a multi-year study of bike-share users to determine the effect on riders’ weight and health.

The study will also include demographic information about who riders are, where they live and how much they earn. Preliminary data show that users of bike share are white, male and with incomes in the six figures. How this compares with bike riders with their own bikes or with their general population is not yet known. However, users of bike share services in other cities tend to have higher incomes than the general population.

And what of safety? It turns out that those who predicted mayhem on the streets of New York were wrong. As of July 3, there were only three injuries from bike-car accidents after 500,000 rides.

The program intends to expand to other boroughs besides Manhattan and Brooklyn. As the program expands, it may become clear whether the positive safety record of Citi Bike can be maintained as the program grows.

Source: Streetsblog, “After 100 Days, Architects of NYC’s Bike-Share Success Take Stock”, by Stephen Miller, Sep. 18, 2013.