New York City’s long awaited bike sharing program, Citi Bike, will finally open for business on Memorial Day, May 27.
For everyone who has not tried out a similar system in any of the more than 500 cities that already have one in place, here’s how it works.
There are two types of membership: short-term and annual. Those who are in town for a visit, or who do not want to commit for the long-term, can sign up for a pass that’s good for one day ($9.95) or a week ($25).
Once you’ve signed up at any of the 6,000 stations — and put down a $101 deposit on a credit or debit card — you get a code that allows you to take out a bike.
Find a bike (check that it’s in good condition first), punch in your code, pull it out, adjust it for your height, and go.
The first half hour is free, but after that the charges quickly pile up:
- 30-60 minutes: $4
- 60-90 minutes: $13
- Every additional 30 minutes after that: + $12
The idea is to encourage short rides to get from one place to another, not to allow people to bike around all day. If you don’t return the bike, you don’t get your $101 deposit back.
You can take as many rides as you want — you just have to swipe the credit card you used to purchase your pass to receive a new code each time.
To return the bike, find an empty spot at any kiosk and park it. If there are no free spots, you can select “Request Time Credit” on the kiosk screen to get an extra 15 minutes, at no charge. Then hit “Find Nearby Stations” to locate the nearest one with a free space. Go there, park the bike.
The rules for riders with the $95 annual memberships are largely the same, but with a few tweaks that make Citi Bike a better deal.
There’s no need for a new code every ride, as the long-term sign up (done online) comes with a unique key to unlock bikes. The first 45 minutes on the bike are free, and after that the charges increase, but not as quickly:
- 45-75 minutes: $2.50
- 75-105 minutes: $9
- Every additional 30 minutes after that: + $9
It’s that simple.
A few things to remember: Citi Bike is only available to those over the age of 16 and under 260 pounds (enforcement of the latter will be minimal).
In New York City, bicycles are classified as vehicles, so riders must obey all laws of traffic, use hand signals before turning, and stay in bike lanes wherever possible. Helmets are not required for adults, and won’t be provided at bike share stations.
To start, 6,000 bikes will be placed at 330 stations in Manhattan below 59th Street, and in Brooklyn neighborhoods DUMBO, Fort Greene, Clinton, Brooklyn Heights, and parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The next stage is to expand to 10,000 bikes and 600 stations, to cover Queens, and more of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Citi Bike will open for riders with annual passes on Monday, May 27, and for users with short term passes on June 2.
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