17 thoughts on “Will Expanding Citi Bike Require Taxpayer Funding?

  1. I do not believe public subsidy is appropriate. Anyone can use the bus and the subway. That is not true of bicycles. I suggest Citi think again.

    • How did you get “Citi” as the decision-maker from the article? Citi is simply a sponsor. Motivate is the private operator. City Council will decide on subsidy.

        • It’s true that a small percentage of people can’t ride a bike, and a larger share probably feel uncomfortable riding in NYC. But about 1/3 of people can’t drive a car, and we still spend $$$$$ on roads, even those where buses don’t go…

          It might be helpful to you to think of the many people who CAN ride bikes, and think about how shifting a number of those people from car/subway/bus to bikes will free up the resource they were previously using. If biking is more cost-effective than the other modes (generally true), the result is a net public benefit, right?

          • Cannot agree with your reasoning, Money spent on roads are justified public expenses. Even in areas where buses do not go, taxis, private cars, emergency vehicles, police vehicles etc. etc etc. do. Road safety is a legitimate concern to all Further, those people who can and choose to ride bikes: although they likely are freeing up seats on buses and subways, the cost benefit is negligible especially if bikes are used during rush hours.Those who ride their bikes for pleasure are making a choice between public and their private transport. Good for those who can tour the City on their Citi-branded bicycles: I respectfully decline to subsidize that choice.

          • Actually, using bikes during rush hour is exactly the type of thing cities like to see, because it greatly expands limited transit capacity at the busiest times. When these “crush loads” are relieved, wait times for passengers are reduced and overall service improves. Compared to buying multiple million-dollar new transit vehicles, bike share is simply an easy choice for minuscule public investment.

          • That would certainly be true IF there were sufficient bike traffic on even one particular line. Assume 150 max capacity per car .Assume 8 cars. How many bikes on 1 line will It take to relieve crush load? For how long? I simply do not see it.

          • Well, I expect Council members will be asking these questions and hopefully receiving meaningful answers from transportation planners and engineers. I recommend http://www.citibikenyc.com/system-data/operating-reports, which shows for example 43K trips/day in September.

            But your point is difficult; how can we justify public investment via a stat like “sufficient bike traffic” when the investment hasn’t been made yet?

          • Projections like that are made all of the time. And it is important to do that, because there are public funds.

          • Right, although it seems like you’ve made up your mind regardless of what the projections turn out to be.

            I suppose I have, too – it seems quite obvious to me that the few million that might be spent on a significant public expansion pales in comparison to the hundreds of millions spent on other modes, which should show up in a cost-benefit analysis of either actual or projected use, without even considering the many positive externalities of cycling in general.

          • Bike shares promote health as well; this is also a public benefit
            perhaps worthy of subsidy, especially considering the chronic disease
            burden.

          • Since the subway is already overcapacity during rush hour, a single bike rider is relieving capacity.. no need to worry about sufficient bike traffic. A large amount of bike rides are taken during rush hour, specifically for commuting. So you would not just be subsidizing “Those who ride their bikes for pleasure”.

          • Irrespective of the purpose of the ride, as I noted above, there is insufficient bike usage to justify public subsidy. The over-capacity of subways is not meaningfully addressed by the use of Citi Bike.

  2. It’s interesting that as the story gets told over time, the mismanagement by Alta and its vendors has faded from memory. Bixi, the bike and software supplier selected by Alta (the original operator of Citi Bike) fired its software vendor, 8D Technologies and decided to write its own software, which was buggy. Here’s an account of Bixi’s problems: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/business/pedaling-uphill-to-save-a-bike-share-pioneer.html

  3. As long as we have to see the corporate john’s name attached to the share program, then not one penny of public money is to be spent or contributed to any part of the program. I will never sign up if I have to pay to advertise for bank.

  4. Now that the concept has proven itself well, I think taxpayer money is a very good idea. The membership rate seems much too low for the company to stay in the black, and it’s also pretty low considering the value we members get. I’d be happy to see the corporate logo go away. We could even change the name.

  5. What’s the difference between Citi brand subsidized bike network and the subsidized subway system which defrays costs selling advertising on the trains? Also, has anyone realized how dangerous and ill prepared the city of New York is to providing safe street biking infrastructure. You gotta be nuts to think biking in the city is safe. This isn’t Portland, Or.

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