Finally. For New Yorkers, the bitter months of dodging frozen mounds of black snow and trails of French bulldog pee preserved in ice are over. And now that spring is here, the New York City bike-share program has released a full eight months of data on ridership through the winter months. The numbers suggest that the city’s fledgling bike-share users are actually pretty resilient—and we can probably expect more of them this spring.
The number of daily and weekly passes people purchased increased as the weather got nicer toward the end of winter. And while the number of daily trips dipped in January and February, trips in March have almost rebounded back to December levels. The number of annual sign-ups also spiked since going outside became bearable again. On March 11, by all accounts the first pleasant, warm day New Yorkers had seen in months, roughly 200 people bought annual bike-share passes.
And the weekly ones spiked as well. Imagine what it will be like when it's actually nice out?
But those short-term passes do appear to be the key to keeping the program afloat. Earlier this year, officials expressed anxiety that the new bike share wouldn’t be able to sell enough, as the daily and weeklies made up Citi Bike’s bread and butter. Unlike other public bike-share programs, Citi Bike isn’t funded by taxpayer dollars, but instead relies on corporate sponsorships.
Citi Bike now has a total of more than 100,000 people signed up for the annual program (with a trendline that is going up as the weather has warmed)—an increase of 4,357 from the end of 2013. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say that Citi Bike will see its coffers refilled as the weather gets nicer. But whether pleasant months can subsidize the awful ones on a long-term basis remains to be seen. Worst case scenario: Wouldn’t it be nice if Citigroup gave the public a bailout, instead of the other way around?