It's 9 a.m. on a sunny weekday, and you've decided to ride Citi Bike to work. Sounds like a good plan! Everything's going swimmingly at first: there are plenty of bikes to choose from near your apartment in, say, Williamsburg, and you encounter only the usual number of scofflaw drivers and bike lane blockers as you make your way into Manhattan. But when you get to your office—let's say that's in the Financial District—you find that nearly every nearby docking station is full. Now you're late, and grumpy, and Citi Bike really doesn't seem like much of a convenience anymore.
This is a common problem Citi Bike riders have, and the program's aware of it. So they're introducing a novel way to fix it: enlisting people who already use the bike sharing system to shuffle bikes from full stations to empty ones. It's called the "Bike Angels" program, and it'll reward people who help out with free membership extensions and entrances into a $500 gift card raffle.
A spokesperson for Citi Bike told the Daily News that they beta-tested this on a few thousand people in the fall and winter, but now, up to 10,000 people can sign up. She said that "bikes are going all different places all day long. And we know New York is a complex place...that makes rebalancing especially complicated. It's up to us as operators to continue to innovate and continue to try new methods to try and improve the situation for our customers."
How does it work? Ideally, you'll move a bike from a full station to an empty station, earning yourself two points. You can also earn a point by moving a bike from a full station to any other station, or by moving a bike from any other station to an empty station. Consult Citi Bike's map to see what docks are full or empty at any given time of day.
If you earn 10 points, you'll be entered in raffle to earn a $500 gift card. You'll keep that raffle entry if you go higher than 10 points, but will also earn yourself free Citi Bike membership extensions: 15 points gets you a one-week extension; 20 points gets you a two-week extension; and 25 points gets you a three-week extension. The points will reset to zero every two weeks. There's no limit to how many points you can earn, though you do have to wait 10 minutes between trips, and points will only be awarded to trips started between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m., or between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m.