Citi Bike and the Adams Administration recently made some adjustments to their operating arrangement. Most notably, Citi Bike will double the number of e-bikes in its system from 10,000 to 20,000 by the end of 2024.
Citi Bike is a bike sharing service based in New York City (NYC). Citi Bike operates the largest bike share system in the United States.
The doubling of the e-bike fleet is designed to reflect current usage patterns. Nearly half of all Citi Bike rides are taken on e-bikes. However, e-bikes only constitute a quarter of the fleet.
It’s important to note that the contract amendements go beyond just providing more e-bikes. Overall, the amendments are a mix of good news and bad news for e-bikers.
One significant point to note is that there will be no expansion of the system’s coverage area. Despite the increase in e-bikes, the agreement does not include expanding the reach of Citi Bike beyond its existing borders.
As a result, Staten Island, southeast Brooklyn, eastern Queens, and the east Bronx will still not have access to bike sharing.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment in the renegotiated Citi Bike contract is its lack of allocation of public funding.
In Washington, DC, the local government uses public money to provide $95 yearly memberships for its bike share program. In NYC, which lacks public subsides for bike sharing, a bike share membership costs $205.
Furthermore, e-bike rides in DC cost only 10 cents per minute for members. In NYC, it’s 17 cents per minute.
During the 2021 mayoral race, five out of the eight major Democratic candidates, including now-Mayor Eric Adams, pledged to provide public funding for Citi Bike. However, since taking office, Adams has remained silent on the matter.
Streetsblog recently asked Adams’s office if he would fulfill his campaign pledge. Adams’s office gave no response.
Electrified docking stations
To address the issue of e-bike battery replacement, Lyft has expressed interest in connecting Citi Bike stations directly to the electric grid. This would enable e-bikes to recharge while resting in docking stations.
Currently, Lyft employees drive around the city to replace dead e-bike batteries. This is an inefficient, time-consuming method.
Fortunately, the new Citi Bike deal includes plans to pilot electrified docking stations for two stations by the end of the year. Lyft’s ultimate goal is to electrify 20 percent of stations citywide. Although this may not seem like much, it would significantly reduce the need for manual battery swaps.
Another positive development development is the introduction of a price cap for Citi Bike memberships, including per-minute rides on e-bikes. For the duration of 2023, e-bike rides will not exceed 24 cents per minute for members, 12 cents per minute for reduced fare users, and 36 cents per minute for the general public.
In subsequent years, the e-bike price cap will be adjusted based on the consumer price index plus 2 percent.
The city’s negotiation of price caps has been praised, although some argue that the caps are still higher than the current rates.
Although cycling advocates will surely be disappointed by some of the contract’s details, Mayor Adams’s support of expanding NYC’s e-bike fleet is a major victory.
Hopefully, the expansion of NYC’s e-bike fleet is a sign that Mayor Adams is moderating some of his earlier positions.
Image Source: Clyno.sol