The CitiBike bike share program is a complete game changer for NYC, in the right direction. I’m a couple of months late to the conversation (having been out of town all summer), but here are my observations/predictions after 48 hours on a bike:
1) CitiBike is like having hundreds of new subway stops.
CitiBike opens up the city in exciting and unexpected ways. I could imagine far reaching consequences such as increasing commerce in previously less accessible neighborhoods like Greenpoint, Fort Green, and Clinton Hill and reducing the premium paid for proximity to the subway (at least during summer months). I’ve never had a more enjoyable and productive day running errands as I did yesterday.
2) Specifically, ubiquitous cycling revolutionizes crosstown travel.
FInally. Living in the West Village, I rarely traveled east of broadway to eat. Last night, I agreed to meet my friend for dinner in Alphabet City, and was there in 10 minutes.
3) CitiBike is a great deal!
I am going to save a couple hundred $$$s a year by not buying an unlimited metrocard during the warm months. This phenomenon will affect MTA revenues. Look for price hikes within the year.
4) Someone will die, soon.
Many more will will be hurt. It’s an inevitable and unfortunate consequence of throwing thousands of (helmet-less!) people that haven’t ridden bikes since they were in middle school into the melee that is New York City traffic.
Every single person I know with a bike in NYC has been hit at least once. The is the main reason that I never picked up a bike…until now…the on-demand transportation is just too alluring. I only hope that the collision that convinces me to get a helmet will be minor.
5) The City needs to rethink the laws and enforcement around cycling.
The current paradigm of non-enforcement of traffic laws w/r/t cyclists (e.g. allowing them to run red lights and/or go the wrong way down one way streets) is not going to scale, leading to further injuries.
It’s a tricky problem though. Despite being irritated every time I saw some hapless blue shirt and kahkis breaking the law and thus “ruining it” for everyone, I found myself doing the same by the end of the day.
Why? The current traffic laws, designed for pedestrians and vehicles, don’t make sense for cyclists. On a bike it feels much safer to “run” a light in order to get out ahead where traffic can clearly see you as opposed to wait wedged between impatient and inattentive motorists.
We probably need “hybrid” laws tapered to the unique strengths and weaknesses of cyclists. Right now, the only people observing the law are weed delivery boys.
6) CitiBike provides a great opportunity for entrepreneurs.
CitiBike will create a new market for accessories, services, and apps. I’m sure someone at 4SQ is already working on a checkin integration and I’d like my citbike app to start my 45 minute countdown as soon as I unlock a bike. If I had the money, I would definitely shell out for this scarf/helmet.
7) Someone at Citigroup deserves a promotion.
What amazing marketing. I can’t believe that I, and everyone else, are calling these things “citibikes.” If someone at CitiGroup sees this, I would love to chat. I have some ideas about how to strengthen your digital program (e.g. you should open your API ASAP).
8) The winter is going to be rough.
All sorts of unforseen complications, injuries, and costs are going to come out of the woodwork.
9) You will learn to hate traffic in a whole new way.
Contrary to what the haters complaining about the “all the lost parking spaces” think, normal New Yorkers are going become even more fed-up with rush hour gridlock. It’s not fun on a bike either. Hopefully this will catalyze support for more bicycle friendly infrastructure (e.g. dedicated lanes, bumpers etc).
10) “People overestimate change in the short term…”
“…but underestimate it in the long term.” Most of these predictions aren’t going to play out over night but if were I a betting man, I would put my chips down on the side of this program making a big, positive change on NYC. I can’t wait.