This July, New York City will launch Citi Bike, a bike sharing program with 600 stations and 10,000 bikes throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. As a city ranked the #7 most bike-friendly city in America, it’s about time a system of sorts made it to the Big Apple.
Positioned and intended for shorter trips, this new program will provide New Yorkers with an additional option to get around the city. Given that more than half of trips made in the city are less than two miles away, the perfect distance on a bike, this program is highly anticipated. Plus, who doesn’t want to avoid the sweaty and steamy subway in the middle of summer?
This bike sharing program makes it easy on commuters with the range of destinations available and the lack of personal responsibility when it comes to storing and maintenance. Much like other programs around the world, each station will have a number of bikes locked until hired and will consist of a kiosk with a touch-screen and map of docks around the city. Available 24-hours-a-day, there are three different options to purchase with a debit or credit card: 24-hours, 7-days, or annual memberships. Although unlimited trips are allowed with each access type, extra charges apply for use longer than 30-45 minutes. The program will also launch with a smartphone app for customers to check in real time bike and dock availability—which will be really helpful on the instance that upon returning a bike there are no open docks to do so.
What’s most interesting is the lack of government and public funding used to finance this initiative. NYC originally issued a request for proposals asking companies to run a bike share program as a business in the city. Which in turn led to Citibank and Mastercard sponsoring this bike sharing system. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of the sponsorship, but rest assured NYC will not escape the sight of Citi branded bikes.
Citi is providing and delivering on a need that is part of the every day routine of New Yorkers. Offering an additional mode of reasonably priced transportation is like Christmas morning, every day. And they’re making it easy on New Yorkers by providing real time information at the touch of their fingertips with the smartphone app. It will be interesting to see how the city reacts to Citi sponsoring this new program and if brand sentiment shifts in any way. When a brand sponsors and delivers on a massive need like this one, the word spreads and becomes well noted.
Time will tell if and how other brands could get involved, but what brands can learn from this initiative is that providing a service that meets a need becomes relevant and a part of the every day for consumers: in this case, New Yorkers and tourists alike. Very soon it will be time to take full advantage of an additional way to get around the city. Just be sure to wear a helmet!
Image courtesy of CURBED