Riders on the storm… Anyone? Citi Bike wasn’t shut off during blizzard

These Citi Bikes, located in the plaza at Duarte Square, at Canal St. and Sixth Ave., were still operational on Friday around noon. But there were no signs that anyone had been using them since the snowstorm hit.

These Citi Bikes, located in the plaza at Duarte Square, at Canal St. and Sixth Ave., were still operational on Friday around noon. But there were no signs that anyone had been using them since the snowstorm hit.  Photos by Lincoln Anderson

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | The city’s new public bike-share system was still up and running on Friday morning — though it didn’t seem like anyone was riding. In fact, it didn’t seem that anyone was riding any bicycles of any sort on the city’s slush-covered streets following winter storm Hercules the night before. There were a few deliverymen on bicycles scattered about, but they were pedaling slowly and their tires looked to have better treads for the snow than Citi Bikes, whose balloon-style tires are relatively smooth.

A spokesperson for NYC Bike Share, which operates Citi Bike, said Thursday evening that they would shut the system down if the weather became too severe. While the system has simply been left operating, Citi Bike sitings have been few and far between.

Nevertheless, on Friday afternoon, Nicholas Mosquera, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Transportation, told The Villager, “There have been more than 3,000 rides [on Citi Bikes] in the less than 24 hours since snow first started falling.”

Chris Ballard, a salesperson at Metro Bicycles, at Varick and Watts Sts., on late Friday afternoon, said it had been a very slow day at the store, with only delivery people and messengers coming in for bike repairs. But he noted he had actually seen a few Citi Bikes going by outside the store’s windows.

“I had a conversation with the mechanic about it earlier,” he said. “I saw two go by and he said he saw one.”

D.O.T. and NYC Bike Share did tell The Villager on Thursday evening that some bikes docked in on-street locations on major streets would be relocated to bike stations that are sited on plazas and sidewalks. This move was apparently a precautionary measure to avoid snow buildup around the bike stations — something local politicians had raised serious concerns about in a joint letter to former D.O.T. Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan in July. However, in the end, Hercules didn’t leave massive mounds of snow in its wake.

On Friday around noon there were no signs that the Citi Bikes docked at Duarte Square, a plaza at Canal St. and Sixth Ave., had been used anytime recently. A reporter put his Citi Bike key into one of the docks and a green light displayed — indicating that the bikes could still be taken out for a spin. Their tires were encased in small snow drifts a few inches high, and snow lay on the cycles’ seats, handlebars, pedals, chain guards and the like. Nearby, a group of kids were making snow angels and a snowman, and one of them was burrowing his face into the fresh white powder.

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4 Responses to Riders on the storm… Anyone? Citi Bike wasn’t shut off during blizzard

  1. 3,000 rides on Citi Bikes in the less than 24 hours since snow first started falling? Sure, and I have a bridge to sell you! Every time a Citi Bike worker takes a bike out of the dock, it's counted as a "ride." So if there are 3,000 "rides," it was just CB employees moving the bikes around, not people riding them through the snow.

  2. I rode a Citi Bike twice today: once in the morning commute and once in the evening commute. Riding a Citi Bike in the snow just takes a little more patience and a lot more effort.

  3. I took one out yesterday as well. Honestly, docking it was problematic, as the snow had encased the locking mechanism. Riding it also required a lot more care, but it was still better than walking 10 additional blocks, waiting in the cold for a train.

  4. I took 4 rides on Friday to cover an aggregate 15 miles. It was slippy in places, but perfectly manageable.

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