NYC's bike share program Citi Bike has proved popular, but it's been hit with a number of financial and technical problems.
Citi Bike announced Oct. 28 that its operating company Alta Bike Share had been taken over by Manhattan venture firm REQX, and appointed Jay Walder, former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, as its new CEO.
The new leadership said it planned to address common customer complaints including broken docks, broken bicycles and software glitches at docking stations. Citi Bike said annual membership prices will increase from $95 to $149 to "more accurately reflect the cost of providing the service."
Citi Bike will double its capacity to 12,000 bikes and 700 stations -- including further up Manhattan to the Upper West Side, Upper East Side and Harlem; Queens including Astoria and Sunnyside; and Red Hook, Park Slope and Greenpoint in Brooklyn.
The Wall Street Journal reported in March that Citi Bike was facing a funding crisis after a harsh winter left many docking stations damaged and the system underutilized. NYC Bike Share said March 26 that its general manager, Justin Ginsburgh, had stepped down.
Alta said the economic viability of the program relies on tourists paying $9.95 for a day pass to subsidize NYC residents paying $95 for a year -- but that too few tourists are using the bikes.
Seven years and 23 million rides after the first bike share program launched in the U.S., not one cyclist has been killed while riding such a bike, according to Reuters. For every million trips made using bike share, just 10.5 crashes with or without injury occur.
In New York City alone, 12 people had died while riding non-bike share bicycles as of Aug. 2014, according to the city's transportation department. Another 12 were killed in 2013, and 18 died in 2012.
"The bikes are heavy, with a very low center of gravity, wide tires, drum brakes that keep the braking system dry even in inclement weather, and the bikes are geared so it is difficult to gain considerable speed."
Several bike shop owners in New York City have seen sales of bikes decline since Citi Bike was introduced, according to a Bloomberg report. Charlie McCorkell, the owner of Bicycle Habitat, saw annual sales decline at his SoHo store (located one block from a Citi Bike station) while a Brooklyn location more than a mile from a Citi Bike station saw its sales go up.
Since the first U.S. bike share appeared in 2007 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the number of U.S. cities to roll out bike shares has risen to more than 30. Another two are set to launch in 2014 in Portland and Seattle.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has unveiled a streetside kiosk where bicyclists can buy ($20) or rent ($2) bicycle helmets, called the HelmetHub. The mayor says it's the first machine of its kind in the country. If successful, more machines could roll out in 2014. As many as 80% of bike share users ride without a helmet.
A report published May 8 by the U.S. Census Bureau says the number of people in the U.S. that bike to work increased to 786,000 in a four year period ending in 2012.