- Empty/filled stations edged topped the list for the second month in a row.
- Reports (mostly pictures) of abandoned or stolen Citi Bikes doubled over September.
- We cataloged a record 93 social media rants for the month.
- Dock-lock reports increased to 34 in October from September’s 20.
- New among the rants this month are from people weighing in on the announcement of the increase for annual membership to $149 from $95. Supporters of the increase nearly doubled those rants from people upset by it.
- As we reported on Oct. 29, posters to Facebook and Reddit sputtered in anger over Citi Bike reneging on its promise that current members could renew at $95 for the time being.
- Also new to this month’s list are complaints that the promised valets were not at the station and the station was full. The valet program, started during the summer at an East Village station and now expanded to several high-traffic stations, promises that staff will be there to take your bike if the station is full.
Rant of the month: A thoughtful critique from an LA bicyclist
I am a fan of the Citi Bike program and NYC's bike lanes in general. I give it four stars just for EXISTING, where other cities have nothing. As someone who commutes via bicycle 40+ miles a day on the city streets of Los Angeles, I think the existence of this rental bike program, and the accompanying culture of biking that exists in New York, is fantastic.
Is the program perfect? Certainly not. The computer kiosks are not at all intuitive for first-timers or out-of-towners. You have to request a new ride code each time you want to get a bike, by first pressing "request new ride code," and then inserting your (same) credit card. Pull up your bike to a station that's full of bikes, just before your time is up? Requesting more time via the kiosk is also extremely un-intuitive. You might also find yourself wasting time trying to dock your bike at a dock that is... broken. Which can add pressure if you are trying to cut it close up against your time limit. So, not perfect.
The Citi Bike smartphone app is useful for find the numerous stations throughout the city. The bikes I used were in good working order, and despite having come unprepared, I put in 20 miles wearing my Allen Edmonds dress shoes I enjoyed riding around the city so much. The bike lanes in New York feel safe-ish (if you watch for car doors and pedestrians) and there is a general feeling that bikes have a place on the city streets here, or at least more so than in other places. Cars look out for bikes (more often than I am used to), and don't make deliberate attempts to kill you.
I imagine this program has a 2.5 star review average because of how the kiosks and docks function (or, rather, how they don't function). That's too bad, but don't let it discourage you from trying it out!