How to tell where CitiBike is working

By Felix Salmon
June 7, 2013
big problem with NYC's bikeshare program, how can users get a good idea of whether or not any given station is working?

" data-share-img="" data-share="twitter,facebook,linkedin,reddit,google" data-share-count="true">

Given the big problem with NYC’s bikeshare program, how can users get a good idea of whether or not any given station is working? The app won’t tell you. But over at Streetsblog, commenter ohhleary points to this site, which shows not only how many bikes are in a given dock right now, but also how many bikes have been in that dock over the past 24 hours. He (or she) explains:

Click on a station, and if you see the graph “flatlining” during peak hours, you can pretty much assume the station is down.

Here’s an example, using two stations on Washington Square:


The station on the left seems to be working OK, with activity during the day and less activity at night. But the one on the right has a tendency to flatline, whatever the hour — a good indication that it can neither dispense nor accept bikes.

If the problem with stations being out of order isn’t easily fixed, then, I’d suggest that CitiBike add this simple piece of functionality to their app: when you select a given station, it should show not only the number of bikes and spaces available, but also how those numbers have changed over the past few hours. If they haven’t changed at all, that’s a reasonably good indication that the station might not be working.

More From Felix Salmon
Post Felix
The Piketty pessimist
The most expensive lottery ticket in the world
The problems of HFT, Joe Stiglitz edition
Private equity math, Nuveen edition
Five explanations for Greece’s bond yield
One comment so far

You’re right, I’m sure CitiBike will add a little flag showing WHERE THEY’RE FAILING. Happily.

Posted by PhilH | Report as abusive
Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see