Saturday, February 28, 2015

No place left to put a sticker? Vandalism to Citi Bike stations hits all-time low

There were only eight incidents in January but the why of that is a bit of a behavioral mystery.  It wasn’t the weather. January 2014 was much more harsh and recorded 109 incidents.

Courtesy of AccuWeather

FYI, Citi Bike defines vandalism as "including stickers, graffiti, and damage to stations or bicycles”.

DOT recommends these new stations for Greenpoint, Williamsburg

The Brooklyn Paper obtained this DOT map

Friday, February 27, 2015

Maybe it’s time to get real about keeping bike share open in dead of winter

If you just look at ridership, we come away impressed by the relatively high use of the system in the winter. Even with 9,000 fewer members this January vs. last, those members took 2000 more rides this year. For some perspective, total rides in January, at around 314,000, are 30 percent of last summer’s peak in July.

But when you take a look at the costs of supporting those 314,000 rides, it’s kind of eye-popping. Revenue for January -- $126,000 -- is 5% of last July’s revenue and the lowest of any month since the system opened in May 2013. Throw in February 2014’s rides in and you’re at 10% of last July.

Total rides were up slightly over last January but average miles per trip set a new low.

And all but the most casual users of the system must notice the toll that winter takes on bikes left on the streets, those cracked seats, those frozen cranks, the repeated tweets from Citi Bike about wholesale station crashes. The salt.

Rides may decline 70 percent in winter, but station repairs don’t. January station malfunctions -- 402 -- are 87% of what they were in July. Single dock malfunctions, 81%.

If that’s not bleak enough, February in New York is shaping up to be the coldest since 1934, so look for even poorer numbers to surface.

Then on top of the cold, there’s the snow. Citi Bike doesn’t report operational expenses, but the manpower costs of shoveling out every plowed-in bicycle, a job that can only be done by hand, must be staggering. It took seven days for the system to recover from the big Jan 26-27 snow.

Much has been made of Citi Bike’s struggle to make money. Conceding to Mother Nature in January and February might help that goal considerably.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

About the NotSpot Index

Last week’s NotSpot index factors out all of Monday and most of Friday for extreme cold, and four hours during Tuesday’s “snizzle” -- that's a drizzle-like snowfall, says Accuweather.

The week marked the fourth straight in the green zone, the second longest stretch of acceptable performance since the index began.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Citi Bike workers protest for pay raise

To the story
An excerpt

This morning...a handful of other Citi Bike workers gathered outside the bikeshare system's largest and busiest station on 31st and 8th Ave to demand higher wages and improved health and safety measures.

There's now reason to have confidence in the Citi Bike app

Imagine the Citi Bike communications team tweeting this: AFTER ALMOST 2 YEARS, OUR APP NOW ACCURATELY REPORTS DOWNED STATIONS

Of course they can’t do that, so it’s up to this blog to spread this really good news. Make that great news, because on the list of Citi Bike aggravations, arriving at a dead station is at the top.

Here’s a look at the number of available docks for the first seven weeks of 2014:
An “available dock” is supposed to be a dock online, regardless of whether it’s holding a bike
The numbers varied little, from a high of 11,651 docks on Jan. 19 to a low of 11,502 on Feb. 19. The variance of about 150 docks reflected the stations that Citi Bikes announced as out of service. For example, during this timeline a number of Times Square stations were dismantled for Super Bowl events.

But as every Citibiker knows, the numbers did not reflect stations that had crashed. Our own surveys, taken last summer and fall, show that the app was no more than 50 percent accurate.

Now here are the same seven weeks of 2015:

What a difference a year makes!  
During the snowstorm of Jan. 26-27, the system was reporting that 326 stations were operating, just three shy of the maximum. Then, in the hours after the storm ended, a major station crash occurred. 
At 8:30 am Jan. 28, 65 fewer stations were online than on the previous day -- a drop iof available docks from 11,191 to 8,884.

Since that crash, the system has not returned to “normal.” The variance in available docks since the day after the system recovered from the crash has swung wildly -- more than 1500 between the high of 11,241 on Feb. 18 and the low of 9684 on Feb. 17.

For us, here's the clincher
Since the January crash, Citi Bike has completely changed the way it announces out-of-service stations.

From the system’s opening day, Cit Bike routinely announched single-station outages on Twitter this way:

Citi Bike @CitiBikeNYC · Jan 23

Station Update:  1 AVE & E 18 ST has been taken out of service due to an issue with the kiosk. Our team is fixing and we'll update soon.

But that Jan. 23 announcement appears to be the last of its kind. Since then, Citi Bike Tweets go like this:

Citi Bike@CitiBikeNYC  Feb 20 @9am Temp 7F
If you ride today, layer-up, stay warm and check the Citi Bike app or online map. Cold weather is affecting the performance of our stations.

System Status: Large # of stations out of service this AM. Techs working to resolve ASAP. Pls check the Citi Bike app for real time info.

Citi Bike@CitiBikeNYC  Feb 14 @ 2 pm

Our earlier connectivity issues have been resolved. Check the Citi Bike app or online map for real time info about station status.

10 CitiBike stations are currently down due to technical issues. Check the app for live station updates if youre playing Cupid today by bike.

What we're seeing is new-found confidence in the app’s accuracy. This check-the-app mantra just didn’t happen before the January crash.

We leave you with this bit of mystery
For the first time since the day it opened, Cit Bike shut down the entire system for 15 hours during the snowstorm. Could it be that it used the shutdown to install new and better software?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Is this some kind of movement? 3rd attempt emerges to boot Citi Bike station from pedestrian space

An excerpt
...those grand plans would require relocating one section of the corner-hogging Citi Bike dock...closer to the commuter van pickup stop on Division Street. There is a curve in the road and allegedly space to accommodate the infrastructure (not on the sidewalk). The bike share company is not having it, though, and all but deflated those grassroots plans last week during the CB3 Transportation subcommittee meeting. As did the Department of Transportation.

To the story
First we learned of Hudson Square.  Sounds like a done deal. Then came came SoHo.  Now this in Two Bridges.
Confucius Plaza is not park space, according to the official city map, so it’s unclear to us how the outcome of the SoHo lawsuit might help or hinder the co-op building’s chances of moving the station.

You would expect Citi Bike to fight this vigorously. If the station is moved and replaces parking meters it must pay the city for the lost revenue.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Here's another challenge to placing Citi Bike stations in parks

To the story

An excerpt

Plaintiffs are reasserting that the Bike Share Program and Kiosks are specifically designed to facilitate transportation, not recreation and is therefore not a legitimate park use."The short rental period, fee structure, and functional, uncomfortable build of the Program’s bikes all demonstrate that its design goal is transportation, not recreation," court papers state.


This case, involving SoHo’s Petrosino Square (Cleveland Pl & Spring St.), is another challenge to placement of  Citi Bike stations in park space.  
Off-street stations are critical to the bike-sharing system’s wintertime operations because they’re safely out of reach of the plows. On-street stations can get entombed in ice for days and weeks after a big snow.
And as we write this, we realize we’re making the plaintiff’s case -- that Citi Bike is about transportation first, recreation second.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

For the hale and hearty, it was a great week to use Citi Bike

About the NotSpot Index

This week’s Index factors out all of icy Monday and three hours on Friday when the temp was below 20F. Still, Citi Bike tweeted that there were 3,467 trips taken between midnight and 10:30 am, when the temp was in the teens.

Weather aside, the NotSpot Index, at 24, is the second lowest average for empty/full stations we’ve ever recorded. And compared the the same week last year, the Index is 12 points lower.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Grand Central to Times Square most popular route for Citi Bike commuters

To the story
An excerpt
Rather than use the crowded cross-town train shuttle or a bus to get to their final destination, more Citi Bike riders pedaled from the East 43rd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue dock to the one at 41st Street and Eighth Avenue and vice versa than anywhere else last year, according to NYC Bike Share and DOT figures obtained by The Post from the first year of the program.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Lack of Uptown bike lanes becomes a worry with Citi Bike expansion

To the story

An excerpt

“In the Upper West Side, there’s a safe streets network on Columbus Avenue going south, but there’s nothing going north,” he (Thomas DeVito, a member of safe streets advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, ) added. “There’s going to be a lot more cyclists out there now, and they’re only gonna be able to come south.”

Saturday, February 7, 2015

NotSpot Index: System performing so much better than last year

About the NotSpot Index

Week 5 came in with the second best NotSpot score of the past 52 weeks. Not included in the average were the weather-challenged days of Monday, Tuesday and half of Friday. 

What's really encouraging is that the system is performing much better compared to this time last year, a now-infamous period when Citi Bike had drastically cut back on street crews. And for two weeks in a row it has been able to do this with far fewer bikes on the street as Operation Overhaul continues.

The week of June 8, 2014, holder of the title Best Week Ever, also saw extreme weather. It started out with thunderstorms followed by week-long wretched humidity and temps in the 90s.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

It took 7 days for Citi Bike to recover fully from last week’s snowstorm

After an unprecedented 65 stations went offline in the hours after the Jan 26-27 storm, the Citi Bike system had shoveled  its way back to normalcy by Wednesday afternoon.

Available bikes had not quite recovered. That number stood at 2882 this morning, a bit under the 2957 available before the storm.

Note: We do not collect data on weekends so Saturday and Sunday numbers are not reflected in the visualization.

Source:  The O’Brien map

Hudson Square park space ‘too precious’ for use as Citi Bike station

An excerpt
At the meeting Wednesday night, Baer explained the decision to move the Citi Bike dock was made with an eye to maximizing the available open space. "We don't think that the Citi Bike station should be taking up park space, it's too precious," said Baer.

To the story


Off-street Citi Bike stations are critical to the survival of the system during winter storms. On-street stations get plowed in, damaging bicycles and requiring enormous human effort to shovel free. After the Jan 26-27 storm, 20 percent of all stations got taken down.
If the 34-dock station at 6 Ave & Broome St is moved to an on-street location, the closest off-street station is a 15-minute-plus hike to Rivington St & Chrystie St on the Lower East Side.