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New York City may be known for its subways and cabs, but if you want to avoid the crowded trains without getting stuck on rush hour roads, bike shares may be the route you’ll want to take. Citi Bike is the rising mode of transportation that’s helping users take advantage of the bike lane and pedal throughout the Big Apple and Jersey City at widely accessible rates.
Bicycling is already one of the most sustainable ways to travel around a city. When you’re sharing that bicycle with thousands of riders through a bike share system like Citi Bike, you’re even further limiting the footprint you leave behind — all while gaining a convenient service and increasing storage space in your urban home.
In this article, we’ll guide you through how Citi Bike works, as well as how you can earn money with the program.
- What Is Citi Bike?
- How Much Do Citi Bikes Cost?
- How to Rent a Citi Bike
- Where Are Citi Bikes Available?
- Earning Money With Citi Bike
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Citi Bike?
Sponsored by Citibank, Citi Bike is a popular bike sharing platform that was acquired by Lyft in 2018. It connects New Yorkers and Jersey City locals to both classic bikes and pedal-assist electric bikes, which are available at docking stations spread throughout their cities. This means that you can take advantage of the system, whether you’re an avid cyclist or simply want a stress-free transportation solution.
Citi Bikes are available 24/7 to help you get to your destination at any time — even if you have last minute plans — without spending money on a standard Lyft ride or waiting for the next train to arrive.
How Much Do Citi Bikes Cost?
While most bike share competitors, including Uber’s JUMP, tend to charge users solely based on a base fee and per-minute rate, the Citi Bike program offers four types of passes that users can choose from. These options are:
- Single Ride Pass: Pay $3 for a classic bike ride, up to 30 minutes. After the first half hour, you’ll be charged 15 cents per minute. Electric bikes come with an extra 15 cents per minute charge.
- Day Pass: For $12, you can access unlimited 30-minute classic bike rentals. If you go above 30 minutes during any bike rental session, you’ll be charged $4 per 15 minutes. Electric bikes again cost an additional 15 cents per minute.
- 3-Day Pass: Pay $24 for all the perks of a Day Pass, but during a 72-hour period.
- Annual Membership: For $169 per year (approximately $14 per month), you can access unlimited 45-minute classic bike rentals for a full year. After the first half hour, you’ll be charged 15 cents per minute. E-bikes cost an extra 10 cents per minute, but this fee is capped at $2 for rides under 45 minutes, if your bike trip is outside of Manhattan.
With these diverse options, you’ll be able to choose the most cost-effective plan for the amount of biking you plan to do. Even without a Citi Bike membership, you can still get affordable rates for both classic bikes and e-bikes.
Electric bike fees can be waived if they’re the only type of bicycle available at your chosen station.
How to Rent a Citi Bike
In addition to providing a variety of pass options, the company also allows Citi Bike riders to rent out bikes in two different ways. You can use both the Citi Bike app and the Lyft app to find, rent, and pay for rides. We’ll explain both options, as well as how to end your trip, in the sections below.
Renting on the Citi Bike App
The Citi Bike app, available on the App Store and Google Play store, is the only mobile app on which you can purchase the Citi Bike Day Pass and 3-Day Pass. This app is even integrated with destination suggestions from the New York Times and can be integrated with health apps to track your activity.
To rent a bike on the Citi Bike app:
- Open the app and tap “Choose a pass.”
- Select your desired pass or membership and follow the prompts to make your purchase.
- Find and head to a nearby bike station using your map screen. You can tap the icons marking each bike station to see the number of bikes that are available. Stations marked with a lightning icon may have electric bikes available.
- Once you arrive, select your station and tap “Unlock a bike.”
- You should receive a five-digit code on your app screen. Enter this code on the keypad of the dock holding the bike you want to rent out.
- As soon as the dock turns green, you can take your bike, lifting it by the seat, and start riding.
Renting on the Lyft App
If you already have the Lyft app installed on your smartphone and only plan to use single ride passes or your annual membership, you don’t need to download a separate app. To rent a Citi Bike through the Lyft app, all you need to do is:
- Tap the bike icon at the bottom of your map screen. This icon will only appear if you’re in a Citi Bike service area.
- Using your map screen, find and head to a bike station near you.
- Once you arrive, select your station and tap “Unlock a bike.”
- When you receive your five-digit code, enter it on the keypad of the dock holding the bike you want to rent out.
- Take your bike once the dock turns green and start riding.
If you have an annual membership and want to take advantage of your special ride rates, make sure to link your bikeshare account by navigating to your Lyft profile first. This way, you’ll be able to unlock 45-minute rides for free at any time instead of paying the single-ride rate.
Payments are processed through the credit card you link to your Lyft account. However, Lyft promo codes won’t work on Citi Bikes unless specified.
Returning Your Citi Bike
Once you’re all done with your ride, regardless of whether you initiated your rental with the Lyft app or Citi Bike app, the last thing you need to do is return your bike to a nearby docking station. You can use your app to find stations that have available docking stations in real time.
When you arrive at the station, simply line up the triangle at the front of your bike with the dock. Slide your bike in the dock gently, but firm enough for it to lock in place and end your trip. You’ll see a green light if your bike has been docked successfully.
Where Are Citi Bikes Available?
The Citi Bike system is currently available throughout three of New York City’s five boroughs — Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens — as well as Jersey City. You can check out the complete map of Citi Bike stations to see exactly where you can unlock and dock your bicycle.
By 2023, Citi Bike does plan to expand to the Bronx, in addition to expanding its service area in neighborhoods like Harlem, Bushwick, and Williamsburg. This will actually triple the current fleet size as part of a $100 million project initiated by Lyft. This Citi Bike expansion project won’t include Staten Island, but will add stations to every other borough.
Earning Money With Citi Bike
Just as with any scooter-sharing or bike-sharing system, Citi Bike needs a large amount of helping hands to keep their bicycles available and well-maintained at every station. What’s unique about working with this company in particular is the fact that you won’t be an independent contractor. While this means that you won’t have as much flexibility, it also means you’ll have a stable part-time or seasonal career. For some positions, you’ll even have opportunities for full-time employment with benefits.
Citi Bike frequently seeks people to fill a variety of roles, including:
- Mechanics: Responsible for helping with all aspects of bike maintenance, repair, and assembly.
- Drivers: Responsible for swapping batteries and bike parts, as well as balancing inventory by moving bikes between stations.
- Station Technicians: Responsible for maintaining specific Citi Bike stations, including docking points and the solar power system.
- Valet Attendants: Responsible for managing one assigned station by helping customers, tracking inventory, and more.
You can see a full list of available positions on this Citi Bike careers page. Once you find a role you’re interested in, simply tap “Apply,” create an account, and complete the requested fields of the fairly traditional job application. This shouldn’t take you too long, though you won’t be able to get started immediately. Prospective Citi Bike employees can expect to attend a one-on-one interview before they can receive a job offer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Renting a Citi Bike is an affordable and sustainable option for anyone who needs a convenient way to get around New York City. Read our answers to the following frequently asked questions to learn more about the bike share:
1. Isn’t Citi Bike available in Miami and Miami Beach?
While Citi Bike Miami does exist, it’s actually a completely different experience than Citi Bike NYC. While both are bike share programs sponsored by Citibank, the New York and Jersey City version is operated by Lyft (and previously, a national bike share company called Motivate). The Citi Bikes you see in downtown Miami and Miami Beach are operated by a local company called DECOBIKE.
The Miami bikes can only be rented hourly or with a membership and cannot be unlocked with a New York pass or the primary Citi Bike app.
2. Does Citi Bike offer discounts?
Citi Bike offers plenty of ongoing discounts to qualified riders. Here are the discounts you can currently take advantage of:
- 10% off annual memberships for Citibank cardholders who sign up here
- $5 monthly memberships for New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents who sign up here
- $5 monthly memberships for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients who sign up here
- $5 monthly memberships (with annual commitment) for eligible credit union members who sign up here
- $35 off annual memberships for U.S. military personnel (includes active, reservist, veteran, and retired personnel) who verify eligibility here
You can also ask your employer, college, or apartment complex if they’re a Citi Bike business partner, in which case you may qualify for a cheaper or even free membership.
3. How fast do Citi Bike’s e-bikes go?
The company’s electric bikes are limited to a maximum speed of 18 miles per hour. This complies with New York City’s current regulations, which require e-bikes to run at no more than 20 miles per hour.
4. Are Lyft Bikes always Citi Bikes?
No. Lyft Bikes is a service that connects you to local bike share programs that the rideshare company has acquired. While New York City’s bikes are Citi Bikes, the Lyft app offers Bay Wheels in San Francisco, CoGo Bikes in Columbus, and Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C.
Explore Your City on Bike
As Citi Bike helps you escape crowded subways and crowded roads, it gives you a chance to explore the heart of your city or enjoy your commute at an affordable rate. All the while, you’ll be making a positive impact on your environment, no matter where you’re headed.
If you’re not located in New York City or Jersey City but still want to take advantage of bike shares, you’re definitely not out of options. Bike shares are constantly appearing throughout the United States, helping riders meet their transportation needs. Read our guide to LimeBike, a service that’s available in plenty of major U.S. cities and college campuses, as well as in select international countries.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.