Citi Bike Rolls Into NYC

Soft launch for nation’s largest bike share this weekend

The Big Apple just rolled into history with 6,000 new bikes.

New York City’s new bike share program, Citi Bike, got off to a soft start on Memorial Day after years of planning and months of delays.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially launched the program’s first phase, 6,000 bikes at 330 docking stations in parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, with the ring of a bell at a City Hall kiosk. According to city transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, this is the first new widespread public transportation in the city in 75 years.

Even at this phase, it is also the largest bike share in the country. The next biggest, Capital Bikeshare in the D.C. area, has fewer than 2,000 bikes.

Yesterday’s launch was only open to the 15,000 people who have signed up for the $95 annual membership so far, but daily ($9.95) and weekly ($25) passes will be available starting next week.

As expected for any program of this size, there were some initial kinks. One of the $825 bikes was stolen as one of the kiosks was being loaded on Sunday, but was recovered on Monday, reported local news outlets. Several hundred keys for annual subscribers were lost in the mail, and, as we previously reported, neighborhood groups have been protesting both the placement of kiosks and their signage, which serve as big blue advertisements for Citi Bank, the program’s benefactor.

One tester, writing for The Guardian, complained that the bikes were heavy and that the mobile kiosk-finding app was broken. Still, others were excited about the possibility of getting around Manhattan more easily—especially given that cross-town subway access is limited and some neighborhoods, like Alphabet City, have no subway stops at all.

“These things are perfect for crosstown trips,” said one rider to the NY Daily News.

As of 5 p.m. on launch day, there were already 6,050 trips and 13,768 miles traveled on the system, according to Citi Bike. The city plans to expand the program to 10,000 bikes at 600 stations.