A Citi Bike rider on the Hudson River bike path. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Reluctant to return to the highs and lows of riding the MTA, in 2021 many New Yorkers looking for socially distant transportation options found new peace of mind (and physical fitness) in Citi Bike, the boroughs-wide program offering short-term rental bicycles conveniently parked around town. 

In a look back over the past 12 months, Citi Bike revealed that riders clocked up over 26 million rides — with 50 million miles biked in 2021. 

An added benefit to the increased ridership was its environmental impact. The communal bike service saved 6,824 metric tons of carbon for the city — much-needed as traffic continues to climb

Citi Bike also highlighted some more unconventional uses for their signature blue bikes, revealing that “one music video was performed on a Citi Bike.” Comedian Tess Tregellas chimed in to the replies with a link to her summer ode to the service, “Hot Girl on a Citi Bike”. The music video was filmed at Pier 84 as a humorous tribute to the joys and sorrows of sweating it out (quite literally) on a bike about town. 

Tregellas wasn’t the only New Yorker to take on a Citi Bike-themed project in 2021. Manhattanite Eric Finklestein became the first person to visit every station in New York (and Jersey City). The Nolita resident managed to hit up all 1,577 stations and has clocked over 600 hours since joining Citi Bike in 2016. 

Surprisingly, Finklestein only had one close encounter with a car — quite a feat, considering that the most recent NYC Department of Transportation crash report cited over 43,000 bicycling accidents involving motor vehicles in 2020 alone.

Finklestein cited some of Citi Bike’s growing pains during his exploration, noting a lack of docks in some neighborhoods as well as broken docks and inaccurate inventory listings in others. 

While Citi Bike has grown its fleet exponentially since its inception in 2013, there are more than 4 million New Yorkers who currently live outside of a service area. Reacting to criticism surrounding the privately-funded system’s lack of inclusivity, New York City officials vowed to work with parent company Lyft to continue expanding its reach. In a recent NYC transportation report obtained by the New York Times, commissioner Hank Gutman made a statement on the growth of Citi Bike:

“We are moving quickly to nearly double dock availability in the busiest core of the network, to ensure our bike-share program continues to be a success.”

It’s clear that the massive surge in ridership over the pandemic will also make 2022 the year of the Citi Bike — hopefully including a wider orbit of New Yorkers in the process.

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