Tag Archive: bike share programs

Hiccups in NYC’s new CitiBike bike share scheme

You may remember that NYC launched their huge (and long overdue) CitiBike bike share over the Memorial Day weekend. Mostly, good things are being said about it. However, all is not rosy in the Big Apple, as Felix Salmon reports for Reuters that there appears to be a sizeable software issue:

The answer, it seems, is that it does work; it just doesn’t work very well. Or, to be a bit more precise, when it works, it works fabulously. But when it doesn’t work — which is all too often — it doesn’t work at all.

He goes on to state:

I’m not certain, however, that Alta and PBSC [the contract holders] are on top of this problem and know how they’re going to fix it. They’ve had an extra year to get this right, but if the app doesn’t know when a station isn’t working, my guess is that the system as a whole doesn’t know that either. And that’s going to be hard to fix. What’s more, if there’s some kind of failsafe mechanism which shuts down an entire station when some reasonably common thing happens, that mechanism is likely baked into the system and will also be hard to patch with some kind of simple software update.

Read the full article by visiting the Reuters page.

At least one group is doing something about the outages…not to fix them, but to at least monitor them and alert users which docks are working. WNYC reports that:

Ten months ago, when Mayor Bloomberg announced Citi Bike would be delayed, he explained why: “The software doesn’t work. Duh,” he said on his weekly radio show. “Until it works, we’re not going to put it out until it does work.” Two weeks after the system launched, complaints of software failures are rife. And though the city refuses to release specific information on outages, a WNYC analysis indicates on any given day, about ten percent of docks have been failing.

Moreover, the city had ample warning the software was buggy — and launched anyway.

Luckily, they got the data on those stations and developed a real-time map that shows the stations and outages:

We love the idea of bikeshare schemes, and hope that CitiBike figures out the problems in a timely fashion. New York City can really use this bike share, and the system there is expected to grow rapidly over the next years — if they can get over their teething pains and straighten things out.

Bike Share Success!

Okay everyone, luckily boyfriend and I were able to sign up for the Mejor en Bici FREE bike share program all in a matter of 24 hours right here in our neighborhood in Buenos Aires!  What does that mean?  Finally my whiny bikeless butt can get some bike share action.

butt note

Overall Impressions of the Mejor en Bici Bike Share:

  • The price is right for $Free.99
  • Service can be hit or miss
  • Good quality helmets
  • Free map of the bike routes in the city is SUPER useful
  • I wish there were more stations, since the limit is one hour at a time
  • Bikes with baskets – I love it (what can I say, easy to please)
  • Open hours are Monday-Friday, 8am -8pm; Saturdays, 10am- 3pm; and closed Sundays

And a tip to share before I get into the details… If you are riding around with a bag or purse, loop the straps around your handles before placing it in your front basket to avoid purse-snatching at stops.  A tip I learned from my friend in Paris.

purse tip photo

Success: How to Sign Up for Mejor en Bici

After reading this extremely useful article on Mejor en Bici from Wander Argentina, signing up was surprisingly simple.  First, we went to the Police station nearest our house (open 24 hours) and, as we are not Argentines, we needed to get a Domicile Certificate.  We paid the 10 Argentine pesos, and waited as the officer copied down our passport information and our address.  The next day at 8am, the mail man slipped the completed form under our apartment door, with signature and stamp of approval.  We took the form, and made photocopies of it and our passports and made our way to the Mejor en Bici station at Plaza Italia.

mejor en b

Here is where we had a bit of a communication breakdown – the girl working the desk sent us to another station only 4 blocks away where the clerks spoke fluent English.  Apparently our Castellano was so terrible, that the first girl didn’t have the patience to fill out the forms and take our pictures.  Anyway, we had a fantastic experience in English, turned in our certificate and photocopies, and got a great little orientation session on the program.  Now, anytime we want to check out bikes for FREE, we can show up to any Mejor en Bici station, ask for a bike and helmet, and give our passport and pin # we and we’re good for up to an hour.  The bikes can be “recharged” at other stations in the city if you need more than an hour.  You can even check online for availability of bikes per station – it’s live.

So, I took it one of the clunky yellow cruisers for a ride to a meeting in another neighborhood and dropped it off at the nearest station.  The seat was a little low, and the quick release was rusted in place, so there was a lot of standing on this ride.  After I dropped off the bike, I gave them my number, then I walked another 15 minutes to the office.  Good thing I didn’t decide to keep the bike with me at the office, since the meeting went on FOREVER!  I would have received a penalty on my account for going over the hour allotted, and wouldn’t be able to use the free bike for a week.

Bike Mural Buenos Aires

Sweet bike mural en route… courtesy of whiskeyandtears.

Thus ends my short spell of Bikeless Butt Envy… Hopefully I’ll keep my butt happy by smashing it into these yellow city bicis on the regular.  If you have any bike share tips or stories for the world, post em in the comments box, below.  Bicibrazos, Bike Commuters!

Commuter News Items

Here’s a quick Wednesday roundup of some commuter news for you:

1) The highly-acclaimed Martin Olav Sabo Bike-Pedestrian Bridge in Minneapolis had some sort of structural cable failure…forcing the closure of the bridge to users. It’s unclear what sort of re-routing of bike/ped traffic is going on there…any MPLS readers care to enlighten us as to route alternatives?

2) The $14,000 Gucci/Bianchi “commuter bike” is getting a lot of press…billed as a “bike for the commuting one-percenters”, it smacks of wretched excess (and to my eyes, isn’t particularly attractive OR capable). Your thoughts?

3) Not to be outdone by Gucci, designer Phillipe Stark announced plans to build a 3000-strong fleet of bike-share bikes for the city of Bordeaux, France. Unlike the Gucci, I actually sort of like the look of the Stark machine…but have only seen renderings so far.

4) The city of New Orleans has gotten some more favorable press based on the Benchmarking Report we posted about a few weeks ago. NOLA has really upped their game to become a more bike-friendly city, and we applaud their efforts!

5) Are bike lanes really “green”? That’s the subject of an essay over at Smart Planet…focusing on the State of California and their exhaustive Environmental Quality Act, which requires extensive impact studies for any project that affects traffic moving through California’s streets.

6) We still have a handful of our limited-edition cotton t-shirts. Heavyweight cotton, striking color, simple logo…and all yours for $15.00 (which includes shipping to anywhere in the U.S.). Details on ordering can be found by clicking here.

Ok, that’s enough for now…get to reading, and please share your comments and thoughts with us.

St. Olaf’s “Green Bikes” Program

Here’s a cool story that appeared in my inbox the other day, as forwarded by David Gonnerman, media relations person for St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota:

When Rajan Bhandari ’12 wants to get to class, go shopping, or just take in a change of scenery, he heads to the library.

That’s where he can check out one of St. Olaf College’s new “green bikes.” The fleet of 19 new Trek commuter bicycles available for students to use is three times larger than last year. A checkout system for the bikes is administered through Rolvaag Library, and a covered, two-tiered rack housing the bikes is located just outside the library.


Green Bikes, St. Olaf College’s student-managed bike-sharing program, has existed for nearly five years, but it is only in the past two years that the program has really taken off. Initially, it was hampered by maintenance and accountability issues as well as a lack of quality bikes. During his four years at St. Olaf, Daniel Novak ’11 led a student effort to transform Green Bikes into a successful operation. The hard work finally paid off last spring, when Green Bikes was awarded a grant that enabled it to purchase a new fleet of bikes from Milltown Cycles.

Read the rest of the story by clicking here. Campuses across the nation are turning to bikes as a means to get students around the area — it’s a smart solution, as many colleges are overcrowded with cars and insufficient/expensive parking. St. Olaf gets extra props for administering this Green Bikes program through their library (for those of you who don’t know: when I am not enjoying life as a quasi-celebrity bicycle blogger, I am a mild-mannered librarian).

Got a college campus bike share story to relay? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Bike Share Program Coming to NYC

Of all the cities in the United States, the one that seems most likely to have (and need!) a bike-sharing system is New York City…the most densely populated major city we’ve got. With over eight million people crammed into an area around 300 square miles, there’s barely enough room for cars, let alone all those teeming masses of humanity. Bikes DO make a lot of sense there, and a bike-sharing program even more sense.

Good news, though — Alta Bicycle Share, Inc. has been chosen to establish a city-wide (Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn) system of 10000 bikes in 600 stations:

Bike share will offer New Yorkers a new public transportation option for short, one-way trips that is meant to fill gaps with self-service bike stations located every few blocks. Research shows that 40 percent of trips made by residents are under one mile; 54 percent are under two miles, and 67 percent are under three miles.

New Yorkers and visitors will be able to pick up a bike at any station, 24 hours a day, and ride to a drop-off station near their destination. Smartphone apps will allow users to find out about bike and station availability in real-time. The bike share stations will be solar-powered.

Check out the full article by clicking here, and visit Alta Bicycle Share for more information and details on how it’ll all work when it rolls out in 2012.

The crew here at is a huge fan of bicycle-share programs, and we’ve written about BIXI/Nice Ride in Minneapolis, B Cycle in Denver, Bikestation Long Beach in California, a novel bike-sharing concept called SoBi in New York (current operational status unknown), and the granddaddy of them all, Velib in Paris.