Citi Bike Share Program Meets Heavy Demand In New York Before May Launch

Citi Biki will launch its long-awaited bike share program in New York City next month, and eager New Yorkers have already showered the company with a wave of support. Membership registration opened up two days ago, and the first 5,000 “founding member” offers have already sold out. More than 4,000 members signed up in the first 24 hours alone.

Perks of being a “founding member” included a special founding member key, a 24 hour pass to share with a friend, invitations to classes on riding safely, discounts on bike tours, and more.

Annual membership costs around $100, a lower price than that of a monthly MetroCard providing access to the subway. The membership allows riders to use any bike for up to 45 minutes with no additional charge.

Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C. is currently the largest bike share program in the country. It launched with 49 stations, a shadow of the 330 stations Citi Bike will provide when it launches in May. 2,000 people signed up in the entire month before the program’s launch in August 2010. On average, 500 – 1000 people have signed up per month. The program now has over 22,000 registered annual members.

Transportation Nation reports that Capital Bikeshare’s busiest month came in April 2011, when a Living Social promotion brought in 5,500 new members. New York City has managed to match those numbers in just over a day.

New York City is a substantially larger city than Washington, D.C. New York City has a population of over 8 million, much of which consists of dense urban area best navigated via subways. Washington, D.C. has a population of just over 600,000. The Washington Metro is generally used to travel into and out of the city, not to get from one point of the city to another. Getting around both cities is a fundamentally different beast.

Not everyone in New York City is excited about the Citi Bike share program. Crain’s New York reports that residents in Williamsburg and Brooklyn rallied against some of the bike lanes being laid in their neighborhoods.

By next year, New York City will be the home to over 600 Citi Bike share stations providing access to 10,000 bikes.