Loose bikes, other glitches at CitiBike stations - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Loose bikes, other glitches at CitiBike stations

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

A Fox 5 employee said he came to a CitiBike station in Midtown Manhattan and removed a bike without paying. We came and tried and succeeded, too, and could not put it back in securely.

We were able to take out for free one bike out of the two dozen parked here.

One block away at 47th Street and First Avenue we pulled out without paying one of the 20 bikes there. After six attempts, we put it back securely. The light on the docking port has to be green.

At a CitiBike station right by police headquarters we could not remove any bikes, but a CitiBike enthusiast there described what sounds like a similar problem: if your CitiBike is not registering when locked up, you get charged up to $13 for every 30 minutes late return.

At Lafayette and Great Jones in NoHo, first-time user Nora Farber, tried to rent a CitiBike but had trouble getting it unlocked and could not put it back securely. She called the CitiBike help hotline, and 20 minutes later was told she would not be charged. So she gave up and walked away.

Since the CitiBike stations are solar powered and connected by cell network, these issues appear to be a software problem. CitiBike manufacturer Alta Bicycle Share is not using the same software used successfully in other cities.

Still in NoHo, another woman paid $9.95 for one day and got several Citibikes, noting that this was cheaper than a cab.

At 47th Street, a construction worker wondered how the bike stations will be cleaned of a garbage or snow. But he said he signed up anyway. He goes crosstown to the Port Authority Bus Terminal from First Avenue. By bus or subway it takes 45 minutes. By CitiBike he said it would take him 10 minutes.

The NYC Dept. of Transportation issued this response:

"We have had an extraordinary number of rides in just the first 11 days – more than 100,000 – and there have been relatively few issues and we have been able to address most on inspection. Many issues don't affect all users at a particular dock or station, and frequently a user unable to take out or return a particular bike may simply be able to take out another bike at the same station or at a nearby station, or to return a bike to another dock or station."

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