It’s been a long slog for New York City’s bike-share program. Citi Bike, named for its primary sponsor, Citibank, was first announced by the Department of Transportation in 2010, and, at that time, it was expected to be up and running by the spring of 2012. The launch was delayed by software problems and by Hurricane Sandy, but, two months ago, docking stations finally began appearing around Manhattan and Brooklyn. On Memorial Day, the bikes rolled out, offering rides to and from hundreds of locations.
We examined how the first few weeks of the program fared by tracking when the bikes appeared at different docks. After a Citi Bike is unlocked (through a code or a key), it can be used for up to forty-five minutes before it must be redocked. Using live data provided by the Citi Bike Web site, it’s possible to see how many bikes are checked into each station at any particular moment. Other Citi Bike-trackers have used this data to develop insightful live views of the program, or to follow it closely for a single day. We chose to take a long look, grabbing information at fifteen-minute intervals each day for a month, from June 8th through July 8th.
Plotted on a time-lapse map, our data shows that Citi Bike is creating new ways to navigate the city. As more New Yorkers joined the program, commuting and recreational-riding patterns appeared. Citi Bike is already influencing how people get to and from work. And, because it’s New York, there’s been speculation about how much of a premium bike-friendly real estate can command.
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