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Citi Bike has pretty much been a revelation for New York City since its launch in 2013. With a birthday party set to light up Prospect Park on May 27, it represents a major success for the bicycle sharing system.
While New York City had reservations about the public cycling incentive, to begin with, time has proven those fears to be erroneous. Under the Koch Administration, there was a proposed ban on bikes in Midtown due to the Mayor’s insistence that bicycles were a major cause of ‘traffic chaos’. A few with some extra dollars and access to a best free bets site would probably have begged to differ.
With just one (albeit one too many) Citi Bike-related fatality since the launch of the incentive, the New York Post’s warnings of a “bloodbath” on the streets of New York seems a little much. That being said, hindsight does tend to be “20/20”. Still, the success of Citi Bike speaks volumes for the incentive.
“Five years ago, we couldn’t really imagine that you’d be seeing Leonardo DiCaprio and Park Slope moms and the whole range of New Yorkers riding around on blue bikes,” Julie Wood, who acts as the spokesperson for Citi Bike’s parent company Motivate said (via Gothamist). “But now it’s such a part of the fabric of the city, that we kind of take it for granted.”
Gender Equality & Diversity
Celebrities and moms aside, there seems to be another inclusive factor which is felt under Citi Bike.
While Motivate and Citi Bike do not explicitly collect racial data on users, it did state that only 4% of the service’s users in Washington D.C were African American. This is surprising, given that 50% of the city is black. The reasons cited by research teams are that bike infrastructure appears to be perceived as a threat, given the association with gentrification. Another reason is that non-whites do not have as much of an interest in cycling than whites.
In the case of DC, more African American users seemed to cycle once dockless bikes were introduced. New York and Motivate are challenging the racial issue by providing a discount to NYCHA residents. A number of credit union members and community organizations can also avail of a cut-price incentive which the organization and the City hopes will encourage more people of color to join.
Women also ride in minimal numbers in comparison to men. Following the first two years of Citi Bike, a study conducted found that just 22.3% of bike rides were taken by women using the service. This is in great contrast to many other places around the world, such as in European cities, which have a 50/50 split when it comes to male and female riders.
Once again, there are many reasons which have been cited for this. A study headed by NYU’s Sarah Kaufman concluded:
“It only gets you so far to expect women, who are overwhelmingly responsible for caretaker trips (kids, elderly relatives) to bike for part of the way or pay for a bike membership on top of multiple car or transit trips.”
There is still some way to go before these issues can be addressed, but for now, New York seems to be doing something towards fixing them.