By Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein
A bike is probably not the first thing you make room for if you are living in cramped quarters along with the rest of New York City. Enter Citi Bike, the privately run bike-sharing program set up last summer in the Big Apple. The program joins a host of bike share systems across the country, and the world. Most people are familiar with how bicycle-friendly a city like Amsterdam can be, but as the trend of “urban bicycling” grows, so too does the proliferation of bike shares within the US. While the short-term trips of tourists typically fund the upkeep of such programs, locals are offered what is essentially an economically and environmentally friendly extension of public transport.
Judging by the numbers, Citi Bike is a huge success. Environmentally, it offset well over one million pounds of carbon this past July. And it is certainly drawing crowds: in its first year alone it sold 105,000 annual memberships and facilitated eight million trips. So it may baffle some to learn that it is struggling financially, to the tune of $14 million. The sense of urgency over the program might be misplaced, however, as it is the private ownership of Citi Bike that makes profit a concern. The company’s popular and respected older sibling, Capital Bikeshare in Washington DC, has been funded by federal grants since its launch in 2010 and will only be making a profit for the first time this year, which it hopes to sustain going forward.
This week BreakThru News was joined in the studio by Brian Fencil, BTR’s in-house cycling expert with over 5,000 miles of tours (including a stint from Spain to Iceland), though his personal code of ethics in transport proved something of a shock.
Host, Writer – Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein
Video Editor – Andy Morell
Script Supervisor – Matthew DeMello
Research – Lisa Autz
with guest – Brian Fencil