Citi Bike Review: Is Citi Bike Worth $100? Hell Yes.

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I resisted Citi Bike for nearly a year.

I liked the idea of the city’s bikeshare program, but since I already had a monthly MTA pass, my own bike sitting at home, I pushed off Citi Bike as a nice-to-have, but was more a luxury that I would only use from time-to-time. 


Is Citi Bike Worth It?

Is Citi Bike worth the $100 annual membership? (UPDATE: Citibike raised annual cost to $150) It all depends on how you calculate your value. I thought over the value of a Citi Bike membership several times in my head and came to the ultimate conclusion that yes, CitiBike is worth it.

That’s in part because I enjoy riding bikes, so my calculation came down to how often I would use the bikes. I thought about those nights I didn’t want to wait for the A, C, E or M14D at 1 AM, I could just jump on a Citi Bike, but how often was that? At the time, I estimated at best, I’d use Citi Bike between 4-7 times a month. Max, I calculated.

On top of that, I rationalized that I wouldn’t be able/want to use the service during the 3-4 winter months and considering I sweat easily, it would be unbearable to think of jumping on a bike during the sweltering, humid summer months.

For 12 months, I convinced myself that my potential usage didn’t justify the admittedly affordable $95 annual membership rate. Considering that I had my own bike, the winter and summer months, I might use the bikes 50 or so times in a year. That’s $2 a ride and a bulky FOB on my keychain — it felt unnecessary and didn’t make any sense at those numbers.


After 12 months of resisting, I decided to get a membership to test out the service. It was an affordable $100, so it wasn’t a costly experiment even if it confirmed my assumptions.

Yes, Citi Bike is Worth It

My usage calculations were way off; I’ve taken 42 trips in the first 17 days I’ve had Citi Bike. Since my July 2014, I’ve taken 1300+ trips and rode 1800 miles on a Citi Bike.

Citibike trip counter
Citibike trips Aug-1-7

After just the first day I had access, I very quickly realized that I should have signed up for a membership a year ago. In less than three weeks with Citi Bike, I’ve found it does a great job filling in the transport gaps or if I just want to have the freedom to pick up a bike whenever I want. 

Citi Bike has been the most useful when your destination is 30 minutes away by subway, but just 12 minutes on bike… and you’re late. Also when the nearest bus or subway stop you get off at is two avenues and two streets away from your destination.

Citi Bike vs. Other Transportation

BUS: I love the bus because they allow me relax and check my phone, but man, sometimes they can be slowwwww. If I’m equal distance from a bus stop and a Citi Bike station, taking a Citibike has always been faster for me.

SUBWAY: When I’m late and need to be somewhere fast, it’s between the subway and Citibike, depending on where I need to be. The subway is fast, but those tunnels are muggy as a mug in the summer. And the underground is just that, underground, so there’s a claustrophobic feeling going down into the subway. On the other hand, there’s a feeling of freedom to Citi Bike when compared.


TAXI:  Taxis are great, but expensive so not really a daily option for everyday New Yorkers. I feel like the overlap between people who take taxis everyday vs. those that are considering Citi Bike is somewhere around zero percent. Please see my Microsoft Paint venn diagram below to further emphasize my speculation:

citibike vs taxis venn diagram two circles

With Citibike you’re on a bike whenever you want, not locked in a dungeon platform waiting for the next train. Not just that, I enjoy the feeling of riding around in the city, I definitely prefer it to being on a subway train not talking to anyone.

For more value and comparison, check this video out by Casey Neistat, a member of New York’s Bike Lobby:


Citibike Isnt’ Perfect

Full/Empty Docks: The East Village is a high-usage area for Citi Bike, so there’s been a few times when I’ve seen a lot of red lights at my station; the docks were empty or didn’t have any open docks to drop off my bike. There’s been other occasions in midtown where there weren’t any bikes available.

Sweating: Nuff Said

Storage: The “basket” on the front of the bike could stand to be larger. I sometimes have a backpack or groceries and it would be nice to be able to easily fit my bag into the carrier without having to jam it in. Seems like Citi Bike fashioned these more for purses.

Registration: I will say that I was annoyed that after I signed up I wouldn’t be able to access the bikes immediately. I expected to be able to use a Citi Bike as soon as I registered, but I had to wait a full week before I received my key FOB. It doesn’t make sense for a system that allows visitors to take the bikes out immediately and annual memberships have to wait 7-10 business days. Not even a day pass for new memberships to hold them over?  I was told by a Citi Bike agent that they can’t generate codes in the system, but when I received my welcome package, it included a free day pass. Sigh.


Conclusion: Get Citibike!

What I thought I would use sparingly has become my primary mode of transport (especially during this unseasonably cool summer). Is Citibike worth it? It’s a resounding yes here. Even if they decide to raise the annual membership price, it’ll be my first option to get around (weather permitting).

Citi Bike has easily been my primary mode of transport (it helps that there’s a station a few steps outside my apartment). Remember a few paragraphs up that I said I estimated I would only use it 4-7 times a month? As of this post, I’ve already taken 100+ rides and counting…

Join in on some stress less bikeshare with a free month. Sign up through the following link to get an extra month added to your annual membership:

Free month of Citi Bike discount

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  1. avatar
    Karl Letcher says:

    Since this article was published, one of the annoyances you cite–having to wait for a week after registration to start using the bikes–has been eliminated. When you register online using a credit card, you’re given immediate access by dipping the same card at the kiosk during the time that you’re waiting for your key to arrive. The price for yearly membership has increased (currently on sale for $125, but generally $150). It’s still a steal. I’d been walking and taking public transport for months; the time savings realized with Citibike the first day were astonishing. I also appreciate the freedom from the various worries and inconveniences of looking after ones own bike in the city.

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