It's been a rough couple of months for Citi Bike, what with the revelation that the program requires "tens of millions" to stay afloat, or news that annual membership rates could skyrocket from $95 to $150/year. Still, that's not stopping Columbia University from attempting to perfect the imperfect system.
Using weekday data from October 2013, researcher Juan Francisco Saldarriaga at Columbia's Spatial Information Design Lab mapped demand imbalances at every Citi Bike station in the city.
Some of the findings are expected, with the worst imbalances occurring from 6 to 10am and 4 to 8pm. Peak data in the morning shows most bikes leaving residential neighborhoods (the Lower East Side, the East Village, Chelsea, and Hell's Kitchen), and arriving at Midtown East and the Financial District. The opposite is true in the afternoon and evening.
However, there are many stations located in hotspots of imbalance that inexplicably do not seem to have as many problems as surrounding stations. Likewise, some stations see a steady stream of activity throughout the day, but remain imbalanced.
In the end, the problems discovered by Saldarriaga aren't going to be fixed over night, but the project lays out important groundwork for improving and tweaking the Citi Bike system. Given the recent news that Related Companies and Equinox will buy out Alta Bicicyle Share, here's hoping they take this study to heart.
Or they could just say "screw it" and dump the whole thing in the Gowanus Canal.
· "CITI BIKE REBALANCING STUDY" [SIDL]
· "The Science (and Maps) Behind Finding Available Citi Bikes and Docks" [StreetsBlog]
· All Citi Bike coverage [Curbed]