Suggestion Box: Citi Bike

Citi Bike has been up and running for about a month and a half now. What do you think? Not about the aesthetics of the stations or the bikes—we’ve debated that enough by now…. Are you using the service? Are you liking it? How would you improve it?

I have a few observations….

1. More gears sure would be welcome. The bikes have three, and the third just isn’t enough to get going quickly—which is crucial when you’re riding in traffic.

2. I’ve had a few technical glitches—bikes that won’t dock or undock, a red flashing light on the bike when I docked it (right)—but overall the system has worked well enough.

3. Bike lanes are welcome, mainly, but if drivers are allowed to double park, what’s the point? Double parkers are, in my opinion, a cyclist’s worst enemy, because they force you out into the traffic.

4. What’s up with the cyclists who ring the bell constantly, as if it’s wired straight to their erogenous zones?

5. Why do so many bike seats end up looking like this? (Update: See comments.)

6. Has anyone figured out the pattern of when there will be no bikes? It seems to me that around 5 p.m. is when the bike racks in Tribeca start emptying out. There have been several times I thought about taking a Citi Bike, only to realize I couldn’t count on their being a (functioning) bike.

7. In hot weather, you don’t realize how much of a sweat you’re working up until after you’ve stopped biking.

8. I try to obey all traffic laws, as frustrating as it is (since pedestrians have carte blanche to ignore them), except for one: On cobblestoned streets, I’ll take the sidewalk (slowly, carefully, etc.). Citi Bikes have minimal shock absorbers, if any, and seats with negligible padding. (Good thing I have no interest in being a father.) Here’s a video I shot, going from asphalt to cobblestones to asphalt.

Previous “Suggestion Box” posts:
••• The Local-Tourist Nexus
••• Bogardus Plaza
••• Equinox (also here)
••• Whole Foods (also here)



  1. our household has used them often. My husband has cycled home from midtown a few times – ditto the sweating, can’t do it to work, but can do it getting home.

    I know of a child who is now cycling to school (Stuyvesant, from the financial district) which is terrific. We don’t drive (and therefore don’t park!) and so love them.

  2. The backwards seat is a signal to other riders that there’s a problem with the bike. Saves them the hassle of having to check too closely or look for the red light.

  3. Bike share kiosks are great for bikers, but do little for the other residents of the blocks they are on. This is not very different from the old car-centric model of street use that they are replacing. And there are pedestrians that resent the fact that parking spaces that were useless for them have now gone on to become bike shares paces that are useless to them. What if bike share kiosks can be transformed from spaces solely for bike share riders to community spaces that benefit all who live in a community? Here’s 101 Uses for a Citibike Kiosk

  4. I’ve used a Citibike enough to pay for itself at this point, and I still have 10 months to go on my membership. I agree with all your points, the biggest being the bike lanes down here (esp up Church Street) and the double parking issue. Riding up 6th avenue is terrifying, as is up Hudson right near the tunnel.

    I read the link Bob above posted. I agree that our city needs more places for people to sit and read in public. However, it’s a separate issue from getting a bike share program up and running. In addition, I’ve noticed that many of the bike stations are in places where people weren’t allowed to park anyway. No Standing and No Parking zones to be specific. We street park downtown, and haven’t noticed any difference in the ease or difficulty in finding a parking space.

  5. I just want a pay-as-you go single rides key, like a metro card. And phase 2.

  6. Tribeca is very fortunate. One of the best things about Citibike is that they got the density of stations right. If one is full or empty, there is always another one nearby — especially in Tribeca.

  7. I have also used them a fair bit although agree about better on the way home in this kind of weather due to the perspiration problem (only horses sweat). Agree one more gear would be good. I wish some riders would not think a blue CitiBike is a license to go any way up or down a street and through a red light but I hope that will come with time. The helmet thing is a problem, big prize for anyone who can invent a collapsible one that is easy to carry. In general I give them 9 out of 10.

  8. Bob M,

    You’ll find a collapsible helmet prototype as #137 here:

    also other other helmet ideasfrom around the world at # 120, and 127

    And here’s a way to lock your helmet at a parking sign near a docking station:

    for more details, look for Helmet Locking Stations here:

  9. 1. I agree completely that an additional higher gear or two would benefit more fit riders to reach destinations more quickly.

    2. I have personally rarely had issues docking or undocking. Lift at the seat to remove and use some “man” to dock. The red flashing light photographed is just excess charge created by the Dynohub for the LED lighting.

    3. Double parkers are a problem. NYPD should definitely more aggressively pursue speeders, red light runners, reckless drivers, and double parkers. These issues can cause great harm.

    4. Reminds me of all the honking.

    5. As was mentioned earlier, a reversed saddle represents a mechanical issue with the bicycle. If a bicycle is damaged, please press the small wrench button to inform Citi Bike of the issue.

    6. The bikes will be low or empty (or full) at certain locations and times during the day due to commute patterns. Citi Bike needs to adjust over time as they realize these patterns and more efficiently rotate the bicycles.

    7. Dress cool or try to exert low effort when cycling. Everyone has a different level of fitness. I find cycling to use less effort over distances when compared to walking.

    8. Stand when riding over bumpy surfaces. It helps.