New York City’s bike-share program, Citi Bike, has had highs and lows since launching in 2013. While a recent deal with real estate giant REQX is meant to expand the program and bring in more cash, a new report from City Comptroller Scott Stringer details the lows of one of the biggest brands in U.S. bike-share.
Nothing from Stringer’s audit will likely come as a surprise to New Yorkers who use (and gripe about) Citi Bike. After a close look at the system, which has 330 stations and about 6,000 bicycles, Stringer’s office reports a lag in maintenance that’s been blamed on NYC Department of Transportation’s laying off 16 inspectors last winter.
Stringer says too few safety checks and sloppy reporting put bike-share cyclists at risk. In a press release, Stringer said, “With every missed maintenance check, the safety risk of undisclosed bike defects increases. New York City Bike Share needs to ensure that every Citi Bike cyclist is using a safe bike. The company’s decision to lay off inspection staff highlights DOT’s responsibility to make sure it covers all the bases when it enters into public-private partnerships such as this one.”
Tweeting out the report, he had more fun with phrasing:
The report also notes a failure to respond to complaints about dirty bikes: “only 60 percent of the sampled complaints for stations were completed within the required time frame.” Stringer says sloppy equipment and glitches with Citi Bike’s payment system and app (“Of 60 stations observed, the app was only 83 percent accurate with respect to working, available docks and 73 percent accurate with respect to available and working bikes”) are counter to successfully expanding bike-share in New York.
“To develop transportation infrastructure for the 21st century, we also need information technology that guarantees maximum performance and safety for users,” Stringer said. “With NYCBS’s new owner, DOT has the opportunity to take additional steps to ensure the reliability and sustainability of the bike share program in the coming years.”
The Comptroller’s report outlines eight recommendations to improve the system, including better maintenance and more reliable software. Officials from DOT and Citi Bike say upgrades are on the way.