Citi Bike, New York’s popular bike-share system, has come under fire amid escalating customer complaints of widespread bike shortages at numerous docking stations across New York City.
During the past two weeks, 21 percent of Citi Bike’s signature blue bikes have disappeared, according to StreetsblogNYC.
“I am a loyal customer,” said one Citi Bike customer. “But I am just frustrated that I can’t get a bike anymore.”
‘Citi Bike Is the World’s Worst-Maintained System’
According to the privately-held company’s own data, there were 7,166 Citi Bikes in service on Tuesday, September 25 — down 21 percent from 9,112 bikes just two weeks earlier.
“That rapid decline makes Citi Bike, which is, arguably, the world’s most popular bike share system, far and away the world’s worst-maintained system,” Streetsblog noted.
The mass shortages have fueled speculation that Citi Bike is not being honest when it boasts that it has a fleet of 12,000 bikes available for customers to use to commute around New York City.
Citi Bike’s parent company, Motivate, admitted that it’s experiencing a massive backlog with bike maintenance, but did not specify when the situation will be resolved.
“Right now we have a backlog of bikes that are due for maintenance and repairs,” a spokesperson for Motivate told Streetsblog. “We are putting extra resources toward getting these bikes back out on the street and expect fleet levels will improve soon.”
"In the last two weeks, 21 percent of [citi bikes] have simply disappeared."— Camille Raneem (@sufiinthesaddle) September 26, 2018
Those are not some minor shenanigans. Maybe private companies suck at doing public good. https://t.co/i8JqL48oGr
This is not the first time that Citi Bike has had issues with bike shortages.
Citi Bike launched in 2013 with a fleet of 6,000 bikes. The bike-share program received a barrage of positive media coverage and was widely embraced by environmentally-conscious New Yorkers, who want fewer cars and more bikes on the city’s busy streets.
By 2016, customers complained of empty bike racks across the city, as West Side Rag reported.
Citibike dock in Cobble Hill that a handful of v vocal residents have protested isn't wanted b/c it replaces parking. It's completely empty pic.twitter.com/YiEJowkGhZ— Anna Codrea-Rado (@annacod) September 21, 2016
By 2017, the system’s fleet reportedly ballooned to 10,000 bikes as the program began expanding into other neighborhoods in New York City and its surrounding boroughs.
Is Mayor Bill de Blasio To Blame?
In June 2017, the New York Daily News reported that the Citi Bike had stalled — and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio was to blame.
“The mayor loves his SUV ride from Gracie Mansion to his Park Slope gym, but he has no intention of putting public money into a clean form of commuting being used by tens of thousands of people riding millions of miles,” the New York Daily News reported.
“No other form of mass transit has more bang for the buck than bike rental — yet the mayor is doing nothing to help.”