Gallery: 12 Things to Know Before Using NYC’s New Citi Bike Share Progr...


This one's a no-brainer but it's worth mentioning. It's going to be tempting to leave your Citi Bike outside of a bodega for just a second or two while you grab a Gatorade, but trust us, it ain't worth it. If your Citi Bike is stolen, you're liable for up to $1000, so unless you're fine with paying a grand for your thirstquencher, we highly recommend that you never leave your bike unattended.


If you have a smartphone, you can make your Citi Bike experience a whole lot better by downloading the free Citi Bike app here. Once it’s on your phone, you’ll be able to use the app to locate the nearest Citi Bike stations and see how many bikes and docks are available at each one. Other available tools include a bike lane and route finder, a timer and a bike shop locator. If you don’t have a smartphone, you can also locate the stations nearest you using this online map.


- If you’re an annual Citi Bike member ($95 per year), use the member key you received in the mail to unlock a Citi Bike (you’ll need to activate it first by logging in here and clicking “Activate Your Bike Key”). Once your key is activated, walk up to the bike you want and insert your key into the slot on the lefthand side of the dock. Wait until the light turns green and then lift and pull the bike by the seat out of the dock. The trick is to use a gentle lifting motion instead of trying to yank the bike out.

- If you aren’t a member but want to buy a daily of weekly pass ($9.95 for a 24-Hour Access Pass or $25 for a 7-Day Access Pass), walk up to a Citi Bike kiosk that has available bikes and hit “Get a Bike.” Then follow the onscreen instructions to get your 5-digit ride code printed out on your receipt. Then choose the bike you want and enter your 5-digit ride code (you’ll have five minutes to enter the code into the keypad to release a bike). Wait until the light turns green and then lift and pull the bike by the seat out of the dock. The trick is to use a gentle lifting motion instead of trying to yank the bike out.


Before you ride off into the sun, it’s a good idea to check your Citi Bike out to make sure it’s in good shape. While the bikes are pretty easy to return if there’s something wrong with them, you can save yourself the headache of being in between stations when you discover something isn’t working properly by doing a quick check before you start riding.

Here’s a checklist of what to look out for:

Wheels: Lift up each wheel spin it slowly to make sure it spins freely and doesn’t rub against the brake pads or wobble.

Tires: Push each tire down hard against the ground to make sure it’s not flat. Also check for cuts, bulges or bubbles.

Brakes: Squeeze both brake levers to check that the brakes are functional.

If you find anything wrong with your bike, lock it back into a dock and press the wrench button to indicate that it needs servicing.


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1 Comment

  1. John Rowland August 18, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Really wanted to love citibike because I believe it’s a great concept. But my experience with it was HORRIBLE. 30 minutes?! Really?! Yes that’s all the time you get before having to return the bike … or be charged of course. We were visiting NYC, and had a very limited time, so we thought citibike would be a great way to cover more ground at Central Park. Our first problem came with trying to unlock a bike. The instructions were quite simple. However, executing the instructions was another matter. Trying to get the card to swipe was extremely difficult. Then getting the bike to actually unlock also proved extremely problematic. Once we were on the bikes, we were really enjoying the park, but were coming up on the ridiculously short 30 minute limit. We looked at the map, and it turns out the only stations are on the south end of the park, so we were screwed and went over the limit. In hindsight, I wish I would have just rented from any of the other numerous bike rental vendors at the south entrance of the park.

    We had a 24 hour pass, so we wanted to use the bikes again the next day to save time and ride over the Brooklyn Bridge. Station by the bridge was broken. We met a local who was very frustrated because she was at the end of her 30 MINUTE time limit, and couldn’t check her bike in. We went to another station – also broken. We went to a 3rd station, also broken! Finally gave up. Citibike has A LOT of work to do on this system. I hope they get it fixed, but my recommendation is to avoid it like the plague until they do.