Monday, June 30, 2014

Citi Bike tells tourist: Sorry, your foreign credit card didn't work

Communication from Citi Bike

"Thank you for contacting NYC Bike Share, operator of Citi Bike.

We’re sorry to hear that you’ve had difficulty with your transaction. Citi Bike does accept foreign-issued credit cards that belong to the following international networks: Mastercard & Visa.

Processing of internationally-issued cards is, however, subject to issuer approval. If you have any questions as to whether or not your card is connected to the international payment network, we would encourage you to contact your financial institution and inquire with them about authorization."

Facebook member’s comment

SO, let me get this straight. First you say that you don't accept ANY Visa or Mastercard cards if they are foreign. THEN you say the problem is subject to issuer approval??? Which is it, CitiBike or the issuer??

Clearly it is CitiBike, as the Visa and Mastercard cards we are trying and failing with you, work everywhere else all over the world. It is NOT the issuer that prevents a transaction on your CitiBike network, it is your system.

Pretty poor experience for every visitor to New Work, wouldn't you say? Sub standard, poor, ill-thought through and in practice, just lame. Fix it up, boys.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

4 of week's Top 10 NotSpots on Broadway


1Tompkins SquareAvenue D & E 8 St12535
2Times SquareBroadway & W 51 St13830
3Midtown NorthW 51 St & 6 Ave11130
4Midtown NorthE 53 St & Madison Ave11727
5Midtown EastE 51 St & Lexington Ave9223
6Times SquareBroadway & W 39 St6919
7Times SquareBroadway & W 53 St14819
8Flatiron6 Ave & W 33 St6817
9TribecaGreenwich St & N Moore St8917
10FlatironBroadway & W 32 St3717

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Stolen Citi Bike sparks police chase through West Village

An excerpt

A man with a stolen Citi Bike sparked a police chase through the (West) Village streets, subways and buses this week, the NYPD said.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Madrid opts for electric-assist bike share fleet

An excerpt
Madrid's BiciMAD is making a brave jump ahead of other cities. While human-powered bike shares are becoming commonplace, only a handful of cities have been wading into the electric fray. Copenhagen tried out an e-bike pilot program last year, and Barcelona offers electric scooter sharing, but Madrid's is the first to offer e-bikes as the system-wide standard. It's a smart idea. And it's the only way that bike share is going to end up actually getting people out of their cars.

DC bike program runs out of keys; Alta blames supplier

An excerpt

“Due to issues with our supplier, we are currently out of Capital Bikeshare member keys,” a note on the program’s “sign up” page says. “We hope to have this issue resolved soon, but if you’d like to be notified when we have keys to ship please email...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Look Ma! No kiosk, no key! Columbus OH bike system totally app driven

A new entrant into the public bike-sharing space, Zagster,  works without the need for inserting credit cards and keys -- it’s totally app driven. Go to station, go to app, get code, unlock bike. Nice. Since the app does the work, we wonder whether that would solve the dock-lock issue, too.

Of course, the systems Zagster has built don’t compare in scale to those of Citi Bike’s operator, Alta.

Zagster has been around in some form or another since 2007. It’s in the news for its installation in Columbus OH. The system was designed and is in use by corporate campuses and universities.

Always count on us to bring you the latest in NYC biking fashion

A Facebook post: Who needs a Tandem NY skirtweight‬?? Perhaps Abbi Jacobson‬ from Broad City could use one on her Citi Bike in Eposode 8! You can easily keep those flowing skirts down while biking with a Skirtweight.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Citi Bike member documents bike stuck in dock since February

A Citi Bike annual member wrote this yesterday on Citi Bike’s Facebook page
This bike has been stuck in dock#9 (at E 37 St & Lexington Ave) since February. Dispute repeated calls and emails providing location info etc, it's still there stuck on yellow. I think this CitiBike thing is going to work out for all you bike shops after all. People like me are getting fed up with empty docks and broken bikes. Rather than shelling out another $100 for the privilege of walking by empty stations, we'll be come to you to to buy folding bikes

Rome’s bike-share program a bust

An excerpt
Roma’n’bike was introduced in 2008, a year after the successful Vélib’ in Paris and before bike-sharing reached New York, Milan, or London. Today, though the program still exists, it’s almost impossible to find a bike.

Off topic, but we have to tell you about our train trip

We were aboard Amtrak’s California Zephyr early Sunday morning June 15  west of Lincoln, NE when the train was stopped for about two hours because of tornado warnings. Indeed while we sat, a tornado toppled this silo farther west in Atlanta, NE.
At dawn we began moving again and the conductor told us about the warnings. When we reached the station at Holdrege, NE we were told about the silo wreckage. We stayed at Holdrege for several hours. In all, the weather put the train five hours behind.
The silo before the tornado

The silo after the tornado

We stopped again in Atlanta. Our car was directly across from the silo wreckage. This time we were informed that the train crew had run up its maximum 12-hour workday and a replacement crew was on its way. From Denver, five hours away by car!
We waited more than four hours for the new crew to arrive. We had barely resumed our journey when the engine started spewing black smoke. Not good, we were informed. During a relatively short wait, the engineer jury-rigged a fix.
By the time we reached Denver, due in at 7:15 am, night had fallen. After switching engines, we started our climb across the Rockies. We awoke at about 4 am. Stopped again in the wilderness. And awaiting another replacement crew. Who, for a time, couldn’t find the train. Another three hours lost.  By this point we were 18 hours behind.

But here’s the really good part: A crew member we befriended told us that Amtrak’s vice president for operations, DJ Stadtler, was aboard the train. Mr. Stadtler, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Paris launches world’s first bike share for kids

An excerpt
The initiative is run by Paris’ bike share program Vélib’, the third-largest in the world, to encourage 2- to 8-year-old kids to learn how to bike safely. And that means all 300 bikes include helmets and all five rental stations are off-road, located by parks, pedestrian spaces or areas with bike lanes.

Our heads are spinning and our helmets blew off

An excerpt
“The message that bike-share is increasing head injuries is not true,” Teschke told Streetsblog. “The tone of the article suggests that head injuries go up. Really what is happening is that head injuries went down, non-head injuries went down — but non-head injuries went down more.”


Interesting that the WaPo hasn’t clarified its article. We’ll ask the author @LennyMBernstein

We are tardy in posting this and thanks to @PSteely for pointing this out. Some of the blame goes to Amtrak and an 16-hour delay that started at Hodrege NE, not an Internet-friendly section of the country. 
Aboard the California Zephyr, we stopped for tornado warnings ahead. Indeed while we sat, a five-story silo toppled onto the tracks in Atlanta, NE. We’ll give you details in a separate post.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Week 23 summary: 2nd best performance of the year

WEEK 23*10WEEK 2332WEEK 2325WEEK 2328WEEK 2318

Week 23 at a NotSpot 22, saw the best performance since the snowbound second week of January.  Weather certainly came into play here with Monday’s thunderstorms. And the stifling humidity later in the week may have made air conditioned subways and buses a more attractive option. But  we’re also seeing signs that Citi Bike is getting more aggressive about rebalancing.  
  • A record low 2 empty stations occurred Monday.
  • Available bikes ended the week just above 4000.
  • Fort Greene’s Carlton & Park was the worst-performing station, logging 40 NotSpot hours, all of them as full station.

Brooklyn's Top 10 NotSpots for Week 23

1Fort GreeneCarlton Ave & Park Ave13540
2Fort GreeneClermont Ave & Park Ave12539
3Bedford-StuyvesantLexington Ave & Classon Ave7525
4Fort GreeneFulton St & Clermont Ave5120
5Bedford-StuyvesantMonroe St & Bedford Ave2620
6Clinton HillWilloughby Ave & Hall St10020
7Bedford-StuyvesantDeKalb Ave & Skillman St2518
8Clinton HillEmerson Pl & Myrtle Ave3918
9Vinegar HillSands St & Gold St7117
10Fort GreeneWashington Park14217

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Manhattan's Top Ten NotSpots for Week 23

1Times SquareBroadway & W 36 St16031
2Times SquareBroadway & W 37 St16331
3Times SquareBroadway & W 53 St12924
4Civic CenterCentre St & Worth St4024
5TribecaLaight St & Hudson St7419
6Tompkins SquareAvenue D & E 3 St9018
7Midtown NorthE 53 St & Madison Ave9018
8Tompkins SquareAvenue D & E 12 St1917
9Times SquareBroadway & W 49 St4317
10Midtown NorthW 51 St & 6 Ave8117

Is Citi Bike getting better at balancing? Next nice day should tell the tale

This  past week might be the start of a remarkable turnaround. Or it might be that New Yorkers prefer snow over humidty. Can’t wait for the numbers from next pleasant weekday.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bike-share cities see rise in cyclist head injuries

An excerpt 
In the first study of its kind, researchers from Washington State University and elsewhere found a 14 percent greater risk of head injuries to cyclists associated with cities that have bike share programs. In fact, when they compared raw head injury data for cyclists in five cities before and after they added bike share programs, the researchers found a 7.8 percent increase in the number of head injuries to cyclists.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Radical change underway in Brooklyn rebalancing efforts

We’re witnessing a radical change in Citi Bike’s rebalancing efforts in Brooklyn. Fully 81 percent of the NotSpots this week are full stations.  For the quarter, full stations in Brooklyn account for just 11 percent of all NotSpots.

And these stations are staying nonproductive longer than average  -- 6.6 hours vs. 4.6 hours for the quarter.

It’s such a dramatic change in the established pattern that it must be part of a new rebalancing strategy.
Our theory is this:
  • Stations that stay full for long periods of time are the most benign of NotSpots. The app tells you at the outset not to go there.
  • So riders choose the next best station and those next  bests fill up more rapidly, potentially preventing an empty station later in the day.

Meanwhile, there’s mounting evidence that Citi Bike is getting more aggressive about rebalancing some Brooklyn’s chronic NotSpots.

Let us escort you back to the corner of DeKalb & Vanderbilt in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill. Faithful followers of this blog will remember our 14-day chronicle of the bike station there. After a rebalance, the station emptied every weekday morning and stayed empty for hours, ending only when a rainstorm allowed it to refill.

Check out the top screenshot, taken Tuesday at 11 am. It shows the usual pattern, nearly emptying at 9 am. But this time a rebalance crew arrived with about 10 bikes.

The second screenshot, taken June 3 at 4 pm shows DK&V going NotSpot at 8 am and a crew arriving an hour later, again with about 10 bikes.

We’ve seen this aggressive rebalancing happen on other occasions; we’ve just neglected to take a screenshot. And we’ve seen it happen at other stations in Brooklyn and in Manhattan that were suffering from chronic inattention.

This could be really good news.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Extraordinarily good start to morning rush

At 8:30 am Wednesday, 17 NotSpots -- 12 empty, five full. Best non-weather morning since Friday, April 17.

Record low Notspots - 2 - during Monday's thunderstorms

We recorded a record low two Citi Bike empty stations at 11:30 am Monday. If it weren't for the thunder, you could have heard the choir sing in almost perfect harmony.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Comptroller weighs in on how Citi Bike should move forward

An excerpt

Citi Bike should explore incentives for people making reverse commutes that have the effect of rebalancing the system (for instance, riding to Penn Station during the morning rush or away from Penn Station during the evening rush). Paris' bike-share system offers riders 15 free minutes of ride time in exchange for returning a bike to certain stations in outage-prone areas.

Week 22 Summary

WEEK 2249WEEK 2233WEEK 2241WEEK 2216*WEEK 22

Week 22 came in at a NotSpot 34, the best performance in seven weeks. Even though the numbers  were undoubtedly helped by Thursday’s morning rain, we have a growing sense that the system operators are becoming more aggressive about balancing stations.
For example, check out the list of Brooklyn’s Top Ten NotSpots. There are only seven stations that were down for ten or more hours. First time we’ve seen that happen.
  • During Thursday's rain the number of empty stations dropped to five, making a tie for the record low.

Friday, June 6, 2014

For latest in bike-share fashion, head to DC

An excerpt
Available in black and gray, the backpack was designed by Rebecca Minkoff in collaboration with Bloomingdales to "help the chic city girl go about her day with ease," according to Rebecca Minkoff retail merchandise manager Christine Marconi. A zipper pouch for a water bottle and a key clip are among the bike-friendly features. The bags will be available for purchase at Thursday's party, which includes complimentary potassium snacks, Icelandic yogurt, and make-up touchups from Clarins.

City Bike program doors bike stores along its path, shop owners say

An excerpt
But the perverse byproduct of Citi Bike's popularity is its impact on bike stores like McCorkell’s. The very institutions that should be riding the success of a newly bike-friendly city are getting doored by it instead. For the neighborhood bike shop, declining sales are an unintended consequence of a program that most people seem to love.

Nothing like a morning rain to flush the Citi Bike system

Forgive us for this comparison, but after reading the spectacularly written obit of State Sen. Roy Goodman, we cannot help but blurt:  For the Citibike system, morning rain works like Ex Lax.

Yesterday scored a NotSpot 16, lowest since a Tuesday in the second week of January when we had a chilling all-day rain. Monday also tied the lowest number of empty stations -- five at 8:30 am -- that we’ve recorded for the year.

Empty/full stations day by day

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dad invents snap-on child seat for Citibike-type bikes; Alta moves to shut down his biz

The Blaze
An excerpt
But after it gained public attention more recently Wilson was told to stop the process of testing out his designs and selling the seats because they violate the program’s user agreement on several fronts.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The agony of dock lock captured on video

The Awl

An excerpt

Most people who find themselves in this situation spend some time trying really hard to make the slots work. They shove their bikes into them as forcefully as they can, hoping with every thrust that the mechanism will lock like it’s supposed to. But in the end, everybody gives up and rides sadly away.