Citi Bike has had its share of problems, but by and large, the once-frantic screams emitted by frustrated users who found themselves dock-blocked, dry-docked and worse, taunted by glitchy racks, have quieted to an irritated sputter. But just because the steady drum beat of anger has dimmed doesn't mean the problems don't exist. Transportation Alternatives has conducted a new survey—their second— assessing the experience of 1,500 Citi Bike riders on the street, through social media and through the group's website. Here are some of the results:
After encountering an empty docking station, only 45 percent of riders are able to find an available Citi Bike within five blocks, which can be seriously problematic in the event that they're relying on the system to make an Important Business Meeting or Organ Delivery. Only 57 percent are able to find an available station in less than five blocks, putting them at risk of going over their 15 minute grace period before overtime fees are incurred.
Ninety one percent of riders polled said they would support using public funds to expand the program, despite initial assurances that this would not be the case. But, says Caroline Sampanaro, Transportation Alternatives' Senior Director of Campaigns and Organizing, a lot has changed since the program launched in May. "I think we're in a new time, we're in a place where bike share has been on the ground for awhile, and I think that’s opened up some opportunities to tweak things and make them better," she said, adding that certain funding streams from the federal government are transit-specific, meaning that pouring additional revenue into Citi Bike would not imply taking it from other needs. And anyway, Chicago's doing it—the Divvy program is poised to become the largest in the nation thanks to a $3 million cash infusion from the U.S. Department of Transportation. We still have the tallest building, though!
Still, even these "issues" aren't really issues—not like software malfunctions. The program, Trans Alt posits, are born from its popularity—Citi Bike is a victim of its own success. Sampanaro said she's optimistic that mayor-elect de Blasio will do the right thing when it comes to growing the program, which is ambiguously slated to expand by 4,000 bikes in the near future.
"It's not a guarantee, but I think the overwhelming support is a great thing for the next administration to think about," she said. "They're going to make sure Citi Bike has the bandwidth it needs to respond to the demand."
You can participate in the third and final Citi Bike poll here.