Here's How To Use NYC's New Citi Bike Share Program

man riding citi bike nyc

Bike share finally opened for business in New York City on Monday, and so far it’s been quite well-received.

Despite a few early glitches (and one stolen bike), Citi Bike members had taken more than 6,000 trips and covered nearly 14,000 miles before the end of the afternoon.

The program will change the look of the city, and it will also change a lot of people’s lives. Many people — cyclists and others — will benefit. Others — including drivers — will lose out. 

Mayor Michael Bloomberg notes that Citi Bike is New York’s first new public transit option in 75 years, and if it expands enough of the next few years, it could one day make the Big Apple the first American metropolis to count among the world’s most bike-friendly cities.

For everyone who wants to give it a shot but has not tried out a similar system in any of the more than 500 cities that already have one in place, here’s a rundown of how to sign up, get a bike, and hit the city on two wheels.

For the first week, Citi Bike is only open to members with year-long subscriptions, for $95. You can sign up online, as long as you have a credit or debit card.

Starting June 2, those who do not want to commit for the long-term can sign up for one day ($9.95) or a week ($25).

Annual members get a Citi Bike key fob. Short-term members can unlock bikes by entering a 5-digit number on a keypad.

Once you're ready to go, find a station with at least one bike.

There are 330 stations and 6,000 bikes in Manhattan below 59th St and around Brooklyn, so it shouldn't take too long.

Pick a bike that looks good. Make sure the tires are inflated and there's no visible damage first.

Put the fob in the little slot under the red, yellow, and green lights. The yellow one will turn on.

After a moment, the green lights up.

Take the fob out, and you're good to go.

The bike is heavy, so getting it out isn't super easy. The trick is to lift it a bit as you pull.

Citi Bikes are made to be sturdy and practical for short trips. Because helmets are not required for adults (and you have to be 16 to use Citi Bike), they are not provided.

You can adjust the seat to your height.

And secure your bag in the basket.

There are simple safety reminders between the handlebars.

Along with instructions on how to use the system.

The bikes have three gears, to make getting up hills and bridges a bit easier.

Before you take off, take a look at the neighbourhood map. Cyclists don't have to stick to streets with bike lanes, but it's a smart move.

Then you can hit the streets.

Don't spend too much time on the bike. The first half hour (45 minutes for annual members) is free, but after that the charges quickly pile up.

Once you get where you're going, find an open slot at a station, and push the bike in. Like taking a bike out, this takes a bit of force.

First you'll see the yellow light, then the green, then nothing. Now you walk away, and you're all set.

Now see the cities that are way ahead of the game.

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