Citi Bike Takes New York

Authors: Lily Gordon-Koven and Nolan Levenson

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New York City implemented its bikeshare system, Citi Bike, in May 2013. With more than 6.5 million trips taken by the end of February 2014, the system is well-used. Its daily ridership is equivalent to one of the city’s most popular bus routes. Rather than serve as just a recreational mode, Citi Bike has become an integral part of New York City’s transportation network.

This report analyzes key aspects of Citi Bike:

  • Citi Bike is built on station density, with almost 20 stations per square mile.
  • Citi Bike provides a “last mile” solution for many transit commuters — almost 3/4 of all Citi Bike stations are within 1/4 mile of a subway station.
  • The most used stations are near major transportation hubs, including Grand Central, Penn Station, and the World Trade Center.
  • The system’s greatest challenge is its success– it has so much use that it struggles to rebalance bikes at high-demand stations.

Our analysis focuses on the relationship between Citi Bike and New York City’s subway system. It is the first analysis based on current Citi Bike station locations and their activity levels, with data from NYCDOT, and the connection to the subway network. We found that Citi Bike complements New York City’s dense street grid and expansive subway system. Seventy-four percent of Citi Bike stations are within a five minute (quarter mile) walk of a subway station entrance. The average distance between Citi Bike station and subway entrance is 934 feet.

Citi Bike’s density and connections to transit are compared with two other bikeshare systems: Capital Bike Share in Washington, DC and Divvy Bikes in Chicago. While Citi Bike has 19.7 bike share stations per square mile, Capital Bike Share has 4.37 stations per square mile and Divvy has 6.8 stations per square mile. The differences in station density and connection to transit suggest that Citi Bike promotes short, last-mile trips.

As Citi Bike grows, more New Yorkers will be able to access the new network, expanding the capacity and accessibility of the transportation system. Communities across the city, from Harlem to Greenpoint, are requesting stations in their neighborhoods. The system’s expansion can serve more New Yorkers by increasing their daily mode choices. New Yorkers will benefit from improved mobility and additional transportation options.

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