Thursday, April 24, 2014

My destination station is full. Do I bike to it anyway?

So the dilemma is, if my destination station is filled when I get my bike, should I bet that a spot will open up by the time I get there? Dilemma solved. NEVER. Here’s why:

During the past two weeks (the beginning of Quarter 2) the average time it took a station once filled to have an open dock was:
Manhattan: 3.2 hours
Brooklyn: 3.5 hours

The numbers for Q1 are worse, but they’re ice encrusted:
Manhattan: 4.5 hours
Brooklyn: 7.3 hours

Unless you know the time the station filled up, and you can’t, chances are you’re driving yourself into trouble.


  1. I disagree, I would always ride to the station regardless. It won't take 3.2 hours for someone in Manhattan to pick up a bike at that station, in practice someone already did, and worst case you ride a couple of blocks to the next (less convenient) station.

  2. When you state that it takes on average 3.2 hours for a full station to have an empty dock, is that based on data polled every minute, every 10 minutes, every 30 minutes or what? The times I've been at an empty or filled station, if I'm willing to wait 10 minutes or so, a bike will arrive (if it's empty) or someone will come to remove a bike (if it's full). That 3.2 hours just seems high to me. If your data isn't polled quickly enough, perhaps people are removing a bike and the dock is filled between polling times so it looks like it's been full the whole time.

    That leads me to a question I have been meaning to ask: if Citibike provides station data on a minute-to-minute basis, have you ever calculated a "velocity of bike arrival/removal" from stations? I would find that most useful if I have some time to wait and need to decide on which of three empty stations I should try waiting at.

    Great site!