Despite CitiBike’s Problems, Users Remain Loyal

In interviews, riders say they like the system despite some challenges.

CitiBike station at E 58th St. and 3rd Ave. (Joanna Socha/Ny City Lens)

CitiBike station at E 58th St. and 3rd Ave. (Joanna Socha/Ny City Lens)

 

CitiBike temporarily shut down on March 27, with little notice to its riders. Some users expressed their frustration on social media.

For example, one of the comments on Facebook about the weekend’s shutdown said:  “I do wonder if there is any forward thinking at CitiBike —You seem to just do things at a moment’s notice. Just like when you emailed everyone to say you were planning to put up the annual prices ‘in the future’ but then did it 2 hours later.” Mike Wolley got nine “likes” from other Facebook users for that one.

So NY City Lens decided it might be a good time to poll some CitiBike riders and see what they think of the service. And, perhaps surprisingly, we found that they tend to be loyal to it.

CitiBike is operated by the Motivate (formerly Alta Bicycle Share), which explained that the weekend shutdown aimed to fix its software, so its website and application can, for example, give more accurate information about bike availability. The program has had numerous software issues in the past, such as wrong display of the number of available bikes and docks at a given station.

But the CitiBike users we spoke to about recent upgrades and related inconveniences did not share the same frustration as the online followers.

“I was not affected by any of the shutdowns, because to be honest, the weather has not been that great and I couldn’t really ride anyway,” said Claudia Gutierrez, who was checking out the bikes at East 53rd Street and 3rd Avenue around 11:30 a.m. on April 2nd. She said she rides a bike whenever she can. She believes that the bike program has a great influence on the New Yorkers’ life.

“I think it’s a great program, because it decreases the amount of cars on the road. Environmentally speaking it’s a great thing and also health speaking it’s amazing,” she said. Gutierrez added that even if she was affected by the shutdowns or software problems that would not discourage her from using the system.

Arthur Freierman, who was setting off from the same bike station, agrees: “It’s great, I use it sometimes even three or four times a day during weekdays. I was not affected by the weekend shutdown, because I was not here.” Freierman admits that he would possibly reconsider riding CitiBike if the problems occurred again, but he hopes “they had it fixed.”

George Lei wearing a business attire was trying to return the bike at the station, when NY City Lens approached.  He had to try several docks before his bike was registered in the system.

“Normally it’s good, but usually when I come back, I am trying to find a proper dock to put it back, and it takes a lot of time,” Lei said as he was trying yet another dock. “If you successfully put it back, the green light should be on and it should tell you it’s back into its proper place, but it doesn’t…so the system doesn’t work well.”

Lei says he does not usually use bikes during the weekend, so he was not affected by the weekend shutdown, but he wishes other system problems were fixed. But even if they are not, he says, “I think I would still use it, because I live on the West Side and coming here is pretty convenient. But I would hope they actually fixed this, ‘cause that’s a big annoyance,” Lei said.

On its website, CitiBike explains that some of the recent improvements include accurate real-time information, more user-friendly and reliable stations, bikes overhauled and in good condition, and time and stress-free returns of the bikes. The system now also reportedly uses less power.

CitiBike is the biggest U.S. bicycle sharing program in the U.S.

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