If you’ve taken Citi Bike into Manhattan this week, you may have had trouble finding a place to dock your bike.
The NYC Department of Transportation has seen at least a 50% increase in Citi Bikes going over the East River bridges in recent days, and attributes that to the milder weather and new guidance from the mayor to limit the spread of COVID-19:
We’ve seen a surge in cycling since the beginning of March, with warmer temperatures and after recommendations from @NYCMayor and @nycHealthy regarding COVID-19. This week we’ve seen a 50+% increase in cycling on all East River Bridges (vs 2019).https://t.co/LU74aCrDf2 pic.twitter.com/fOxqT8idjr
— NYC DOT (@NYC_DOT) March 11, 2020
COVID-19 has spread quickly through New York state. We now have at least 16 cases in Brooklyn alone, and public officials have been encouraging people to walk and bicycle to where they need to go if they can. Earlier this week, Mayor DeBlasio encouraged people to avoid the subway if they can, especially during rush hour.
Residents followed that guidance and opted for Citibike – the service say a 60% increase in ridership – only to find that there was nowhere to drop their bikes off.
Screenshots taken from Citi Bike’s station map this morning show many full docks across Manhattan, but better than in the days before:
Riders have tweeted about not being able to find docks in the past few days:
— Adam (@NYConBike) March 9, 2020
— Brenda Pitts (@bmopitts) March 9, 2020
@CitiBikeNYC can I leave this bike on the street. NO DOCKS ANYWHERE
— DoubleShotTom (@DoubleShotTom) March 10, 2020
Citi Bike has been responding to tweets. In one case, they suggested that a rider DM them to get their extra-time fees refunded. They also said they are making efforts to start valet docking.
On Tuesday morning, Citi Bike tweeted out an apology, saying “Citi Bike family, we apologize for our service yesterday morning. Due to unseasonably high temperatures and people opting for fresh air on a bike, system ridership was 60% greater than March of last year. We are working hard to boost dock availability as quickly as possible.”
They added, “Providing you with a seamless and safe riding experience remains our top priority and we hope to have more updates to share soon. Thank you for your continued loyalty and please remember to always check the Citi Bike map before your ride for bike, dock, and valet availability.”
Just a day earlier, on March 9, Citi Bike tweeted, “This morning, unseasonably warm weather resulted in limited dock and valet availability in Lower Manhattan. We have sent several more vehicles downtown to pickup bikes and increase rebalancing in the neighborhood. Thank you for your patience as we work to improve the situation.”
NYC Department of Transportation tweeted their bike safety tips this week, and a photo of DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg riding her bike on the Manhattan bridge.
Lyft, the company that operates Citi Bike, responded to our request for comment by pointing to a tweet that said they “sent several more vehicles downtown to pickup bikes and increase rebalancing in the neighborhood.”
This morning, unseasonably warm weather resulted in limited dock and valet availability in Lower Manhattan.
We have sent several more vehicles downtown to pickup bikes and increase rebalancing in the neighborhood. Thank you for your patience as we work to improve the situation.
— Citi Bike (@CitiBikeNYC) March 9, 2020