How to Rent a Bike From Citi Bike: A Comprehensive Guide

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New York City Launches Citi Bike Bike-Share Program with Thousands of Bikes

After experiencing several months of delays, the highly anticipated Citi Bike bike-share program has finally been launched in New York City. This comprehensive program has made thousands of bicycles available not only across the city but also in the surrounding areas of New Jersey. If you are planning to explore the Big Apple by bike, here’s everything you need to know for a seamless and enjoyable experience.

The Cost of Riding

If you opt for a 24-hour pass, it will cost you $9.95. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there is an additional $4 charge if your ride exceeds 30 minutes, along with escalating overtime fees. For a two-hour ride using a daily pass, you will incur an extra charge of $25. Additionally, a 7-day access pass is available for $25, while an annual membership costs $149.

Additional Charges and Loopholes

You might be wondering what happens if you ride slowly and exceed the 30-minute time limit. Citi Bike is transparent about this issue – there is no limit to the number of rides you can take. Therefore, you can simply return the bike every 29 minutes and enjoy riding throughout the day without incurring any additional fees.

More From Bicycling The triangle icon that indicates to playStill, what’s up with the crazy fees? Citi Bike says the fees are only meant to encourage short trips. However, they’re happy to direct you toward a bike shop that rents by the day if you’re interested.

Maintenance and Bike Durability

Citi Bike has established a system to ensure the proper maintenance of their bicycles. They aim to service the bikes every one to two months, keeping them in optimal condition. While abusive use can result in damages, similar bike-share programs in other cities have not experienced issues with bikes being overused or damaged.

Handling Damages and Repairs

If you accidentally break the bike or it gets damaged in any way, you don’t need to worry about receiving a bill in the mail. However, if the ebike ends up in the Hudson River, there is a hefty missing-bike fee of $1,200. For minor repairs, you can simply walk the bike to the nearest station, press the red repair button, and exchange it for a fresh bike.

Station Availability and Redistribution

Citi Bike ensures that there are twice as many bike docks as there are bikes. However, if you arrive at a station only to find it completely occupied, you can check in and get an additional 15 minutes to park your bike elsewhere. To maintain balance and availability, Citi Bike has a dedicated team of mechanics who roam around and a redistribution crew that transports bikes to stations with higher demand.

Efficiency and Comfort of Riding

Despite weighing around 40 pounds and featuring a generator hub, Citi Bike’s bicycles are not as cumbersome as they might seem. Thanks to their low first gear and the predominantly flat roads of Manhattan (most of which is less than 100 feet above sea level), riding one of these bikes is surprisingly enjoyable. Even when faced with stop-and-go traffic, the top gear effortlessly keeps pace, ensuring a smooth and comfortable ride.

Testing the Limits and Cautionary Tales

While it is likely possible to take the Citi Bike off jumps, it’s important to note that any damages incurred as a result may require you to pay a costly replacement fee of $1,200. However, if you’re curious about the capabilities of bike-share bikes, you can watch a video showcasing Extreme Vélib’, where riders engage in freeriding with Paris’ Vélib’ bikes. This way, you can live vicariously through them without jeopardizing your own wallet.

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On a more relevant note, one of the notable aspects of the Citi Bike is its ability to provide a comfortable ride even on the cracked and uneven streets of the city. Just be cautious when encountering potholes to ensure a smooth journey.

Rusty Vans and Craigslist: What Keeps These Bikes Safe?

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Seriously though, what’s preventing these bikes from being packed into a rusty van, repainted, and sold on CraigsList? Despite their unique design that would easily identify them as Citi Bikes, these bikes are securely locked to the station. There are no U-locks or chains to be cut. Additionally, all major components are theft-proof. The seatpost cannot be removed from the frame, and the bolt-on parts require a proprietary wrench head. Impressive as it is, these bikes also come equipped with a hub-powered GPS locator.

 

Sanitizer: A Necessity for Public Saddles?

How disgusting are the public saddles—do I need to bring sanitizer? Think of them as you would a yoga mat or an exercise bike at the gym. According to cyclist and sports science professor Steven M. Zinder, PhD, of UNC-Chapel Hill, a quick wipedown with antimicrobial wipes is always a good idea. However, there’s no need to panic. Simply washing your hands and bike clothes should do the trick.

One-Size-Fits-All: Is It Really for Everyone?

Although the bikes are designed based on average measurements, they can accommodate riders ranging from 4’10” to 6’5″. Prior to hopping on, you’ll want to adjust the saddle height. Fortunately, the seatpost features markings that make setting the perfect height a breeze.

The Judgment of Riding the Blue Beast

Will I face public mockery for riding this blue beast around town? While the Citi Bike may not be as stylish as Bianchi or Cervélo bikes, the unsolicited feedback we received while riding it was filled with enthusiasm comparable to the excitement of free ice cream.

Arriving Sweaty: A Dilemma Solved

What should you do if you arrive at your destination looking like a hot mess? Pack some baby wipes and locate the nearest bathroom. For additional tips, check out our favorite shower wipes here.

Losing the Bike: A Costly Mistake

What if you lose the bike? Don’t let that happen. The $1,200 fee will definitely bite you. If you have multiple stops, it’s worth parking the bike at a station, even if it means a short walk for the rest of your journey. However, if someone steals the bike from you, be sure to file a police report. In such cases, there will be no fee imposed.

In case you were wondering, falsely reporting a theft of this nature can result in a penalty of no more than a $1,000 fine, and possibly up to one year of imprisonment.

Racing with Citi Bikes: Anything Official?

For now, there are no official Citi Bike races. However, if you happen to make engine revving noises next to a fellow cyclist, they’ll get the hint.

Neighborhood Stations: Why Are Some Areas Left Out?

The NYC Department of Transportation analyzed 10,000 potential locations, presenting them to Community Boards and their leaders, engaging with local stakeholders, and even organizing bike share demonstrations across the city. In short, the stations are placed strategically in the most effective spots and in neighborhoods that support them.

Citi Bike: The World’s Best Bike Share?

If you think this is the ultimate bike share, think again. It’s undoubtedly off to a great start, but it pales in comparison to Hangzhou, China’s bike share program. Check out our comparison chart below to see how Citi Bike measures up against some of the world’s largest programs.

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New York City 

Citi Bike Share

Washington DC

Capital Bike Share

London

Barclay’s Cycle Hire

Paris

Vélib’ Bike Share

Hangzhou, China Public Bike Share
Size 600 stations, 10,000 bikes 165 stations, 1,500 bikes 570 stations, 8,000 bikes 1,202 stations, 17,000 bikes 2,200 stations, 60,600 bikes
Bikes per Capita 638 people per bike 550 people per bike 978 people per bike 129 people per bike 112 people per bike
Age to Operate 16 16 14 unspecified unspecified
Membership

24 hours: $9.95
7 days: $25
Annual: $95

24 hours: $7
3 days: $15
30 Days: $25
Annual: $75

24 hours: $1.55
7 days: $7.74
Annual: $80

24 hours: $2
7 days: $10
Annual: $35 (30-minute rides);
$47.50 (45-minute rides)

No membership, first hour is free
Ovetime Fees

Annual:
30 min: $2.50
60 min: $9
90 min: $18
Add. 30 min: $9

24-Hour & 7-Day:
30 min: $4
60 min: $13
90 min: $25
Add. 30 min: $12

Annual & 30-Day:
30 min: $1.50
60 min: $4.50
90 min: $10.50
Add. 30 min: $6.50

24-Hour & 3-Day:
30 min: $2
60 min: $6
90 min: $14
Add. 30 min: $8

30 min: $1.50
60 min: $6.25
90 min: $9.25
2 hours: $15.50
2.5 hours: $23.50
5.5 hours: $54.75

30 min: $1.25
60 min: $2.50
90 min: $5
Add. 30 min: $5

60 min: $0.15
2 hours: $0.30
Add. hour: $0.45

Max Fee for a 24-Hour Ride $528 $352 $78 $220 $9.45
Equipment

Provided by Public Bike System Company (Bixi)

Provided by Public Bike System Company (Bixi) Cycles and stations based on Public Bike System Company (Bixi) rental system Bikes produced in Hungary by French bike company Mercier Produced by Hangzhou Public Bicycle Company
Station Map App Citi Bike Spotcycle Multiple Vélib’ None
Lost Bike Fee $1,200 $1,000 $465 $183 None
Funding Privately sponsored by Citi Bank ($41M) and MasterCard ($6.5M) Publicly and privately funded. Sponsored by Capital Banks. Transport for London. Barclays Bank contributed about $38.7M. Total cost: $217.1M.

JCDecaux (French advertising corporation). Total cost: $140M

Local government
Operator Alta Bicycle Share, private Alta Bicycle Share, private Serco, private JCDecaux, private Hangzhou Public Bicycle Company, public
Discounts Offers reduced membership for low-income families ($60, payable in monthly installments) Stores offer 10% off helmets with membership None Reduced fee for customers under age 27 ($37) and students receiving scholarship ($23) None
Trivia Largest bike share in North America First bike share in North America (2008) Nicknamed “Boris Bikes” after bike share-enthusiast London Mayor Boris Johnson 3,000 bicycles were stolen in first year of operation (2007) Largest bike share in the world. Plans to expand to 175,000 bikes by 2020

 

24-Hour, 3-Day, and 30-Day Options:

If you prefer shorter periods of bike usage, we have flexible options available for you. For a 24-hour pass, the fee is $7, while a 3-day pass is priced at $15. If you need a longer rental duration, the 30-day pass is available for $25. These options cater to different needs and allow you to choose based on your specific timeline.

Discounted Annual Membership:

For those seeking a more affordable option, we offer a discounted annual membership priced at $75. This allows you to enjoy the same benefits and convenience at a reduced cost.

24-Hour and 7-Day Rates:

If you require a bike for shorter durations, we have attractive rates for you. A 24-hour pass is available for just $1.55, while a 7-day pass is priced at $7.74. These options are perfect for tourists or visitors who want to explore the city on two wheels.

Additional Options:

In addition to the regular membership fees, we also offer special rates for specific ride durations. For a 30-minute ride, the cost is $35, while a 45-minute ride is priced at $47.50. These options are ideal if you only need to use the bikes for a quick trip or commute.

Overtime Fees:

Should you exceed the allocated time for your rental, further charges may apply. For annual members, a 30-minute extension incurs a fee of $2.50, while a 60-minute extension costs $9. If you require additional time in increments of 30 minutes, each extension will cost $9.

For 24-hour and 7-day passes, an extension of 30 minutes is charged at $4, while a 60-minute extension is priced at $13. If you need additional time beyond that, each 30-minute increment incurs a fee of $12.

For annual and 30-day passes, a 30-minute extension is priced at $1.50, while a 60-minute extension costs $4.50. If you require additional time in increments of 30 minutes, each extension will cost $6.50.

For 24-hour and 3-day passes, a 30-minute extension is $2, while a 60-minute extension is $6. If you need more time, each 30-minute increment is $8.

For standalone rides, the fee structure is as follows: $1.50 for 30 minutes, $6.25 for 60 minutes, $9.25 for 90 minutes, $15.50 for 2 hours, $23.50 for 2.5 hours, and $54.75 for 5.5 hours.

Max Fee for a 24-Hour Ride:

Should you decide to embark on a 24-hour bike ride adventure, please note that the maximum fee will be $528.

Equipment:

To enhance your biking experience, we provide state-of-the-art equipment. The bikes are proudly provided by Public Bike System Company (Bixi), ensuring top-notch quality and reliability.

Station Map App:

To assist you in navigating the bike rental system, we offer the Citi BikeSpotcycleMultipleVélib’ app. This powerful tool allows you to easily locate stations and access real-time information for a seamless riding experience.

Lost Bike Fee:

While we strive to provide a hassle-free experience, it’s important to note that in the event of a lost bike, a fee will be charged. The fees are as follows: $1,200, $1,000, $465, and $183, depending on the specific bike model.

Funding:

To bring this incredible bike-sharing service to you, it is made possible through the support of our valued sponsors. Citi Bank and MasterCard have generously contributed $41 million and $6.5 million, respectively, ensuring the ongoing success of the program.

Operator:

To ensure quality and efficiency, the bike-sharing system is operated by Alta Bicycle Share, Serco, JCDecaux, and Hangzhou Public Bicycle Company. These esteemed organizations work diligently to provide you with the best possible experience.

Discounts:

We understand the importance of making the bike sharing service accessible to everyone. To support this goal, we offer reduced membership fees for low-income families, priced at $60 and payable in monthly installments. Additionally, participating stores provide a 10% discount on helmets for members.

Trivia:

Our bike-sharing program boasts several significant achievements and interesting facts. Notably, it is the largest bike share system in North America. We take pride in being the first bike share program in North America, starting back in 2008. In London, our bikes are affectionately known as “Boris Bikes,” after the city’s beloved mayor, Boris Johnson, who is an avid supporter of the initiative. As with any large-scale program, challenges arose in the early stages, and in the first year of operation, 3,000 bicycles were unfortunately stolen. However, we have continuously worked to improve the system and maintain its status as the largest bike share program in the world. Our ambitious plan is to expand the program to a whopping 175,000 bikes by the year 2020. We would also like to acknowledge the additional research conducted by Erica Murphy, which has contributed to our program’s development.

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