If you live in New York City, heck even if you’ve only just visited, you know the hassle public transit can be at peak rush hours, or how unreliable the subways can be, and how slow taxis, lyfts, ubers, vias, what-have-you can be when you need to get somewhere quick. You’ve certainly come across the scattered stations of blue Citi Bikes that have grown increasingly more present in the streets.
A question I’m asked often when I bring up the fact that I used citi bike to get to my destination is: “is the membership worth it?”
And let me tell you. YES. Yes, it is. Because relative to other modes of transportation, it’s the cheapest, but it’s also the best way to take in the city views.
Here are some things to consider:
If you take MTA, you’re paying $2.75 a trip. That includes one transfer. So on an average trip to and from a destination, you’re paying at least $5.50. Let’s say you take one of these trips per day in a single month — you’re looking at roughly $165.60 in travel expenses. And that’s limiting yourself to using MTA to and from somewhere ONCE a day.
The Annual citi bike membership costs $169/year.
This includes unlimited rides 24/7. Each ride can last as long at 45 mins (meaning you have to return your bike to a station within that timeframe to avoid being charged additional fees. 45 minutes is plenty of time to get around the city by bike.
You can also opt to purchase monthly membership at $14.95/month. This is a great option if you don’t live in the city full time, but want a cheaper way of getting around outside of the MTA.
My commute requires me to jump around the city multiple times in a day, and I have found the most economical way of getting around has been through citi bike. In a single month, my citibike membership pays for itself, considering the number of swipes I’d otherwise make using my MTA card.
If you purchase your membership using an eligible CitiBank Credit Card, you’ll receive 10% off your annual membership.
Citi bike also offers a discount program called “Bike Angels”, where, if you use the service enough, you may be selected to become a bike angel. If you are invited to become a bike angel, you recieve points for using the system during peak hours, if you take a bike from a station that is predominantly full, and return it to a station that is predominantly empty. This is one of their ways of encouraging riders to distribute bikes across the stations, to ensure there are bikes to be picked up, and docks available for bikes to be returned to. As you accumulate points, your membership gets free extensions! Check it out here to learn how the rules work.
Citi bike stations have become easy to come by in the city, and they’re expansion continues.
Walk anywhere in Manhattan, Harlem (anywhere south of 130th St), Brooklyn (North of Prospect Park), Astoria, Long Island City, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg, and you’ll find stations a few blocks away from each other.
Granted, if you live outside of these areas, Citi Bike might not be the most practical tool for you, but if you do live in these areas, it’s very convenient.
During rush hour, I opt to use citibike to get across town (from the East Village, so that I can spare myself the headache of getting onto the L), and then take the ACE uptown. I can get from East Village to Hell’s Kitchen in about 25 minutes this way. Or, if the weather permits, I’ll just bike the entire distance, and get there in about 20 minutes.
Citi Bike’s app makes it easy to locate the nearest docks to you. They also keep track of your mileage so you can see your ride history, calories burned, number of rides, and hours spent biking. Almost like a built in fitbit.
More and more protected bike lanes are being built into the streets, granted, that isn’t enough to relieve some people’s fears about biking in NYC traffic. It can get a little intimidating depending on where you’re biking through. Safety is an important part of deciding if Citi Bike is for you. If you can muster up the confidence to bike through Times Square, then I definitely think you should give Citi Bike a shot.
With that said, be a responsible citizen and read up on NYC bike laws. Nothing worse than bikes taking advantage of the road, and putting drivers or pedestrians in harm’s way. Drivers can be equally as reckless, but do yourself and the rest of us who bike a favor, and be a thoughtful human.
Also, bikers, you don’t own the road. Ride with caution, and be mindful of your surroundings. Don’t cut cars off or speed through groups of people.
I love citi bike. In my opinion, it’s the best way to take in the city, and get to know it intimately.