The high number of rides has caused a few issues: some stations are so busy that regular riders have been left without bikes. In some cases, the bike valet service—where staff check in a bike for you instead of you having to go find it yourself and return it—has been necessary at popular hotspots, such as Penn Station.
Despite these challenges, the popularity of citi bike seems to be growing. In a dense city like New York, a bike share may be the quickest way to get around. And the increased volume of cyclists can make other users more mindful on the road.
However, the long-term future of the system remains uncertain. The company that runs it, Lyft, has said it is exploring options for the business, including a sale or spin-off into a smaller firm, or even municipal funding for it.
In an effort to increase accessibility, the company has been offering pop-up 'valet service' at certain busy spots, such as Hoboken Terminal - River Street station. The company also has a dedicated 'Bike Angels' program, where users can earn points by moving bikes from more crowded stations to less-crowded ones (like the one at Penn Station).
But it might not be enough. Orcutt says the City needs to figure out a plan for the system's future quickly, whether that's finding the right company to run it, buying it, or dedicating municipal funding to a new owner. A full city buyout is probably the most feasible solution, given that a private company can only fund a public service for so long.