Thursday, May 12, 2016

Bike Angels: Will Incentivizing Its Membership to Rebalance Solve Hell's Kitchen's CitiBike Shortage?

After enduring another year of empty CitiBike stations in Hell's Kitchen (particularly during the morning commute), it's heartening to see Motivate try something new: gamifying their rebalancing operations with a program called Bike Angels. CitiBike is basically bribing users to move bikes out of full stations and park them in empty stations.

This is how CitiBike members earn points:

Full Station  → Empty Station  = +2 pts
Full Station  → Any Other Station  = +1 pts
Any Other Station  → Empty Station  = +1 pts

And here are the prizes, with your points tally resetting every 2 weeks:

10 Points = Raffle entry for chance to win $500 Gift Card
15 Points = 1 week membership extension + Raffle entry
20 Points = 2 week membership extension + Raffle entry
25 Points = 3 week membership extension + Raffle entry

On the Bike Angels site is a guide to empty and full stations in the AM and PM and the Hell's Kitchen stations are notably empty during both periods.

Maybe an enterprising Hell's Kitchen resident will realize he/she can earn 2 points every morning by moving a bike just a couple of blocks.

How Much will Bike Angels Cost CitiBike in Lost Membership Fees?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Is the Manhattan Citibike expansion worsening the Hell's Kitchen shortage?

Though the expanded Citibike station footprint in Manhattan is welcome, one has to wonder if it's hurting rebalancing efforts.

The Citibike shortage in Hell's Kitchen during the morning commute seems to be worse:

Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 7:51am:

Thursday, Sept. 17 at 8:30am:

The 52nd and 8th station used to be reliable for a handful of Citibikes during the morning commute but now there is regularly nothing there.  

I noticed that UWS stations were full last night so perhaps the bike inventory is getting stretched too thin.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Empty Citibike stations in upper Hell's Kitchen: August

Even under new leadership, Citibike continues to ignore Hell's Kitchen, leaving stations empty during the morning commute.  Meanwhile, in their wrongheadedness, they are rebalancing Broadway, keeping those stations heavily stocked.  Does anyone at Citibike know what it's like to bike south along Broadway?  And why does Citibike think it's appropriate to make users walk 5 minutes from 9th ave. to Broadway to get a bike? Here's a sampling from the past two weeks:

August 5 at 9:47am

August 6 at 9:52am

August 14 at 9:43am

Even on weekends: August 16 at 12:14pm

August 17 at 9:40am

August 19 at 9:28am

Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday, July 27 at 8:44am: 4 empty stations in Hell's Kitchen

I haven't posted in 1/2 a year but that doesn't mean the lack of bikes in Hell's Kitchen has been solved.  I have plenty of pictures and will post them in coming weeks.

This morning did motivate me to post again - 4 adjacent stations this morning were empty:

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday, November 3 at 9:10am: No CitiBikes in Upper Hell's Kitchen

You would think on the coldest day in months, there might be more CitiBikes available, but alas, there were no bikes at the 52/8, 54/9 and 52/9 stations this morning at 9:10am.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

CitiBike has officially started charging $149 for yearly membership; closes renewal loophole

Well, that didn't take long.

When CitiBike officially announced on Tuesday, Oct. 28 that it was under new management and would be expanding, it also broke the bad news that the yearly membership fee would rise from $95 to $149.  At the time, they said "you may still sign up for a new membership or renew an existing subscription at the current $95 rate."

About 24 hours later, CitiBike closed the window for $95 renewals; the yearly annual fee is  now officially $149 (plus tax).

On top of this, there seemed to be a loophole whereby users could renew early, and extend a membership to 2016 (and possibly further - I didn't try).  This loophole is now closed.  You can now only renew for 1 year at a time.

I guess one benefit of Alta's mismanagement was their lax membership renewal guidelines, and unfortunately, that party's over.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

How to beat the impending CitiBike membership hike

Since it's now all but certain that CitiBike annual membership fees will increase (from $95/year to possibly $145), there is a way to dodge the price hike.

When CitiBike announces that Alta has been bought by REQX Ventures, and that the annual membership fee will increase, they can either make the price hike effective immediately or, more fairly, set a future date for the increase like Amazon did when it announced that Amazon Prime's fee would go up 5 weeks hence.

Just in case CitiBike makes a membership hike effective immediately, you are better off renewing now. Doing so isn't that difficult but it may not be obvious how to do so.

Here is how to renew your CitiBike membership now:

1. Log into Citibike by going to their website,

2. After you log in, it should take you to your Member Profile:

3. I believe by default, your membership is set to Automatic Renewal, which CitiBike defines as "Your plan will automatically renew near its expiration date to the Annual Membership plan."  You don't want this, because unless your membership is up in the next few days, the higher fee will be in place well before your membership auto-renews.  

Beside "Renewal Type", click "Change Setting".

4. Click "Switch to Manual Renewal"

5. Once you are back on the main profile page, in the Membership Information section, click Renew.

6. Confirm payment details and you're good for another year at the current $95/year rate!  It might be possible to renew repeatedly for multiple years, but I didn't bother try try that.  If anyone does, please let me know if it works.

7. In case you don't want to accidentally miss a renewal in 12+ months time, consider changing your Membership Renewal Type back to Automatic.

Enjoy another $95 year of CitiBike!

And next time you talk to a CitiBike rebalancer, dispatcher, any CitiBike representative or Jonathan Schulhof, please ask them to stock more bikes in Hell's Kitchen, especially the W54th and 9th Ave. station.