5 Ways to Improve @CitibikeNYC

I am now a year into my relationship with Citibike. I often list it as one of the most transformative changes I have witnessed in my 10 years in New York City (along with credit card in cabs and the High Line project).

After a pleasant ride across town on West 10th Street on a beautiful spring day, I said to myself:

“Something isn’t right”

I realized there are some obvious ways that Citibike falls short of fulfilling it’s full potential. I also recently found a number of undisclosed charges that had been charged to my credit card because of faulty docks.

In the interest of helping Citibike improve, I offer the following feature requests to make Citibike even better:

End-of-ride Notifications

Once a ride is completed, the rider should get notified by push notification for app users or SMS for non-app users.  The notification should include the following:

  •     Pick-up Dock Location
  •     Drop-off Dock Location
  •     Duration of ride
  •     Any late charges due to length of ride

f you drop off a bike and it doesn't initially register, at least you will get a notification when the ride gets closed out so you can call and deal with the situation.  This would also help the open ride situation.  If there was an end-of-ride notification, users would know that the ride never closed.  Likewise, recurring (e.g. hourly) notifications for rides that are open would be helpful.

More Accurate Dock Data in Apps

Initially, the app data was just wrong.  It wasn't just out of date, it was just wrong and the worst part of the initial roll-out of Citibike.  It is has gotten progressively better over the last 12 months. It still doesn't show completely broken docks (i.e. power or communication loss) and the bike/dock counts don't account for broken ones.  Recently, there seems to be as many broken docks as broken bikes.  It would be great if the app could report this data.

Monthly Email Statements

Each month, I should receive a summary of my activity from Citibike.  This seems obvious but it doesn't happen.  It should have the following info:

  • List of rides with location and duration
  • Number of miles covered
  • Summary of charges due to overdue bikes/open rides
  • Aggregate Stats for Citibike for the month (e.g. rides, miles traveled)
  • Benchmarks against other NYC riders (e.g. percentiles)

Charge Notifications 

Last week, I was shocked to find out I had been charged more than $90 for late rides in the last 8 months.  There were 3 separate rides that were overdue or open.  At the time, I had never questioned whether a ride had registered because I assumed I would be notified if it was too long.

As an internet user, I assume that I will get a notification if a company tries to charge my credit card on file. There needs to be some sort of receipt when a charge is made.  If the charge fails due to an expired card, I am sure Citibike will notify me.  This isn’t a one-way street.  When I signed up, I did not have the expectation Citibke would randomly charge me without notifying with justification for the charge.  Riders need the opportunity to refute charges, especially given the number of challenges that have happened in the first year.  

Better Physical Dock Notifications

Recently, I have found a number of docks that were completely down.  I assume they had lost power, didn’t have an internet connection or had water damage.  Before I tried EVERY dock to return my bike, the dock itself should have a notification (e.g. flashing light) that it is inoperable.  

Each individual dock slot should also have notifications that they are broken.  These seem to be more and more prevalent.