NYC Bike Share FAQ


Imagine: you step up to an automated kiosk, swipe a debit or credit card and a bike pops out, ready to use. That’s Citi Bike: an affordable and convenient new option on New York City’s menu of transportation choices. Citi Bike, New York City’s bicycle sharing program, gives New Yorkers the option to easily extend their reach. Soon, bright blue Citi Bikes will be as iconic as a yellow cab.

Transportation Alternatives championed this program and works to organize local communities to win bike share stations for their neighborhoods.

To learn more, check out this handy list of frequently asked questions about bike share and how it will benefit you. If you want to stay up-to-date with the latest news about bike share in New York City, declare yourself a New Yorker for Bicycling.

Why a bike share program in New York City?
How will bike share benefit New York City?
Nuts and bolts: how does it work?
How will bike share make getting around New Yorker easier for me?
How much will this cost?
Will this cost taxpayers money?
Is biking in New York City safe? Will bike share be safe?
Will helmets be included?
Where will the bike kiosks go?
How will Bike Share avoid theft and vandalism?
How can I get involved?
Where are stations going to be?
How did station locations get chosen?
How will the Citi Bike stations fit in on my residential block? What about the historic character of the neighborhood?
When will I get Citi Bike in my neighborhood?


Why a bike share program in New York City?
A subway or bus trip is rarely door-to-door, and New Yorkers make many trips every day that are either too short for public transit or simply go outside its bounds. Citi Bike will give New Yorkers more flexibility and the option to extend the reach of a MetroCard by hopping on a shared bicycle to get where they want to go.

Just think: all the convenience and fun of riding a bike without the hassles of owning or storing it. Citi Bike makes bicycling an easy-to-use and affordable transit choice for every New Yorker. Trust us, even if you think you are someone who would never ride a bike, bike share may just change your mind.

The Department of Transportation has a lot of information about New York bike share on their website as well, so be sure to take a look.

How will bike share benefit New York City?
Citi Bike will be the nation’s largest bicycle sharing system. Comparing that baseline to similar systems in other big cities means there will be about 27.5 million new bicycle trips every year. This increase in bicycling will strengthen the vibrant street life that defines New York City.

Nuts and bolts: how does it work?
Citi Bike will have a high density of bikes and automated bike stations located at convenient locations, allowing users to find and return bicycles easily. Stations will be located in a wide range of locations. Users will be able to pick up bicycles near subway stations, major cultural and tourist locations, major bus stations and ferry landings. Stations will also be located to fill gaps in the subway and bus system.

How will Citi Bike make getting around New Yorker easier for me?
Citi Bike can supplement your daily travel needs. New Yorkers make a lot of short trips around town. Over half of all trips, 54 percent, are less than two miles and more than 20 percent are less than a mile. Citi Bike gives New Yorkers another option if the train doesn’t go where they need to go, they miss the bus or they can’t catch a cab. The program provides the freedom and convenience to get from Point A to Point B directly.

How much will this cost?
An annual pass to use the entire program will cost about $90, that’s 25 cents a day for unlimited access to thousands of public bicycles. To put that in perspective, annual use of the entire bike share program will be less expensive than one monthly MetroCard. If you aren’t ready to buy an annual membership, fear not! The automated kiosks will allow you to opt in for a day, week or month pass, all equally low in cost.

It's important to remember that bike share is not the same thing as bike rental. If you are looking to borrow a bike for a day or to cruise around the city on two wheels for hours, then there are plenty of bike shops that will rent you bikes for that purpose. Bike share is specifically intended for short trips and to fill the gaps that other transit can’t fill. As a result the pricing is scaled to incentivize bike trips of 30 minutes or less. As a registered user you’ll have unlimited 30 minute trips for free. Once you keep the bike out longer than the 30 minutes, you will get charged incrementally the longer you keep the bike (e.g. one dollar for the second 30 minutes, two dollars for the third).

Will this cost taxpayers money?
Bike share will not use any taxpayer money; the program will be privately-funded and operated. As a bonus, bike share will help create more than 200 jobs and is expected to bring much needed revenues to the city through sponsorship and usage fees.

Is biking in New York City safe? Will bike share be safe?
Yes—because there's safety in numbers and more New Yorkers are biking than ever before. Safety in numbers refers to the well-documented phenomenon where it becomes less likely that you will be in a bike crash when there are more people biking.

We have already seen safety in numbers play out in New York as bike lanes and bike ridership increase. In the last four years, the number of bicyclists in New York City has doubled while crashes have halved.

Citi Bike will contribute positively to the safety in numbers effect by increasing the number of New Yorkers bicycling. With many more bicyclists on the streets, drivers and pedestrians will become even more aware of their presence, further increasing the safety in numbers effect.

The British Medical Association published an article showing that the health benefits of bicycling outweigh the health risks in an urban environment by a ratio of 77 to one.

Will helmets be included?
Along with their Citi Bike key, Annual Members will be provided with a manufacturer's coupon good for $10 off the purchase of a helmet at any New York City bike shop. You can also call 311 to find out when NYC DOT is offering free helmet fittings.

A helmet’s effectiveness is in the precise way it fits its owner’s head. This is why simply sharing helmets is unsafe--not to mention unhygienic!

In other cities with bike share programs, it is a common sight to see bike share users carrying their helmets around with them between bike trips. It is important to remember that the only proven way to consistently keep bicyclists safe and decrease injuries is with more bike riders, more bike lanes and stronger enforcement of traffic laws. Helmet use is a personal choice that the City will make easy and affordable for bike share users.

Where will the bike kiosks go?
The kiosks will be located near subway stations, prominent landmarks and other popular destinations making them convenient and accessible to all New Yorkers. They will also be located in areas with poor public transit so that residents will have more transportation choice.

The key to bike share’s success is the density of bicycles and automated kiosks. This density means that bikes and stations will be convenient for you and your trip. By using GPS or the internet, you will be able to get real-time info on where bikes are available for use. Even better, bike share kiosk installation will not involve excavation of streets or sidewalks.

How will Citi Bike avoid theft and vandalism?
The bike share program will use GPS to track down bikes that are not returned. By requiring a credit or debit card for use of a bike, the card will be charged if the bike is not returned or is damaged. If a bike is accidentally damaged, the rider is not responsible and the operator’s team of mechanics will fix it.

How can I get involved?
Officially declare yourself a New Yorker for Bicycling today! This will sign you up for Transportation Alternatives’ public bike share mailing list and keep you up-to-date with important meetings and events where we will need your support in speaking up for bike share.

Want more information? Check out Citi Bike's own FAQ!

Where are stations going to be?
The first round of stations will be in Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn, the most dense commercial districts in the city. You can see all of the station locations on the Citi Bike website.

How did station locations get chosen?
Citi Bike was designed by New Yorkers for New Yorkers. Since September 2011:
  • New Yorkers participated in 159 public bike share meetings, presentations and demonstrations.
  • The DOT held 230 meetings with elected officials, property owners and other stakeholders.
  • DOT received 10,000 station suggestions, and over 55,000 “supports” for these suggestions.
  • DOT planners presented the public, Community Boards and other stakeholders with 2,881 technically viable options for the 600 bike share stations; almost 5 options for each station.

How will the Citi Bike stations fit in on my residential block? What about the historic character of the neighborhood?
Having a bike share station on your block is like having a subway stop near your house: they are above ground but provide the same quick and easy transit access. Citi Bike stations will no more threaten the historic character of a neighborhood than subway entrances or parked cars do. Additionally, the Landmarks Commission approved the plan for installing bike stations in historic districts throughout the city.

When will I get Citi Bike in my neighborhood?
That depends on you! Transportation Alternatives is organizing New Yorkers in all five boroughs to advocate for transportation choices like Citi Bike in their communities. Connect with one of our activist committees near you!