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East Village's Citi Bike Stations Are Often Empty

By Gustavo Solis | June 12, 2013 6:57am
 Many Citi Bike stations in Alphabet City are empty after 8 a.m.
No Bikes in Alphabet City
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EAST VILLAGE — If you want to ride a Citi Bike in Alphabet City, you'd better get up early.

Stations around Tompkins Square Park and along Avenues C and D are emptying by 8 a.m. — and they're staying that way through much of the day, Citi Bike data shows.

Other stations in the area had just one or two bikes to choose from in recent days.

An interactive map created by Olivier O'Brien, a software developer from University College London, tracks Citi Bike usage throughout the city based on the bike share program's data, with red dots representing full stations and blue dots representing empty ones.

In the East Village, red dots quickly turn blue during morning commute hours — and stay that way until 7 p.m., according to a time-lapse showing recent usage.

At noon on Tuesday this week, seven stations in the East Village were empty, eight had fewer than three bikes and just three had more than five bikes.

The lack of bikes during the day means residents like Shane Terenzi, 28, whose schedules aren't the traditional 9-to-5, can have a difficult time finding a ride. There was only one bike at the station at East Seventh Street and Avenue A when Terenzi got there about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“This one is usually empty,” said Terenzi, who works nights. “When they first set it up, it was full.”

The Citi Bike share program, which launched on Memorial Day, features about 6,000 bikes at more than 300 stations in Manhattan south of Central Park and some neighborhoods of Brooklyn.

Citi Bike and the Department of Transportation officials said trucks redistribute the bikes throughout the day in an attempt to ensure that all stations stayed well-stocked.

But sometimes, even if you find a bike docked at a station, you can't ride it, users said.

That's what happened to Martha Kessler, 48, when she got to the Citi Bike station at East 10th Street and Avenue A about 10 a.m. Tuesday.

There was only one bicycle in the station built for 31 bikes. When Kessler tried to undock it, it wouldn't move from the station.

“There was another station [four blocks south] but it was out of my way so I walked [instead of taking a bike],” she said.

Locals use the bikes in the morning to ride to work so there aren't any bikes until they come back at night, said Kessler, who has an annual pass that costs $95 for up to 45 minutes a day.

Residents said the Citi Bike program offers an attractive alternative to public transportation in a part of town where subway lines aren't close by.

It’s a 10-minute walk to the L train from parts of Alphabet City. If you want to catch the F or the 6 train, it’s a 15-minute walk. Some residents said they find cycling to be more reliable than trusting their commute to the bus service.

At noon on Tuesday, Nick Arias, 22, found two bikes at the Citi Bike station at East 10th Street and Avenue A — a busted one and one that had just recently been returned.

“It’s my first time using it,” Arias said as he made his way to the South Street Seaport. “I would have to take the L to the A. Riding along FDR will be better.”