This week, Citi Bike is set to speed ahead of the total rides taken in all of last year, data shows.
The bike-sharing service has reached about 7.9 million rides, just a couple hundred thousand trips short of breaking its record set in 2014.
The most popular stations so far in 2015 are near major transit hubs — 8th Avenue and West 31st Street, across from Penn Station, and Pershing Square North near Grand Central Terminal. Other popular docks are at Lafayette Street and East 8th Street in SoHo, and East 17th Street and Broadway in Union Square.
The bike-share system has seen a lot of changes this year, which include a significant expansion of its network, the redesign of its blue bike, new software, and an upgrade to its app that lets riders track their stats.
Dirk DeLo, a 48-year-old from Chelsea, said he’s seen an improvement in the experience. “The docks are faster, no longer getting the yellow warning lights,” he said. “They’re not locked as frequently. So definitely improved.”
Citi Bike began growing in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan over the summer, expanding its network to 460 stations. New docks were added in neighborhoods like the Upper West Side, Upper East, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Long Island City and Williamsburg.
Since the bike-share started the expansion, cyclists have taken more than 260,000 trips at the new stops between August and this Sunday. The most popular of these 128 stations is on the Upper East Side on 1st Avenue and 68th Street, about a half-mile walk from the 68th Street-Hunter College stop on the No. 6 line.
Docks at West 72nd Street and Central Park West, East 78th Street and Fifth Avenue, and West 85th Street near Central Park West have also done well with riders
However, a significant amount of ridership growth this year has come from original stations that launched in 2013, according to the company. More than 3 million rides were taken at stops in Citi Bike’s original network between Aug. 5 and Sunday, and only about 8% of trips began at the expansion stops.
Josh Cager, 35, of Brooklyn Heights said he likes the new bike redesign and uses Citi Bike to travel to the subway. “They have a new line of bikes that seem lighter,” he said. “Also the machine makes this happy little noise when it’s ready to go.”
Citi Bike hit 50,000 daily trips for the first time in September, on seven days that included two during the pope’s visit. Ridership during the bike share’s peak season, which runs from the end of May through the middle of October, is also up 21% since 2014.
Jay Walder, who heads Citi Bike’s parent company Motivate, said the spike in ridership hasn’t just come from the new stations, but the user-friendly improvements that have made the bike network more convenient to use.
“We made a better Citi Bike and a bigger Citi Bike,” he said. “People are riding more throughout the entire system.”
He said it has many benefits for riders and the city, from fitness to helping the environment. “Bike share is an idea that really fits with how we want to live our lives today,” he added.
Walder, who used to run the MTA, took over as CEO of Alta Bicycle Share in the fall, which ran Citi Bike. The company’s problems ranged from significant financial struggles to malfunctioning docks.
In October, it received $30 million in private capital from investors, $70.5 million in additional sponsorship money from Citi, and a $15 million increase in credit from Goldman Sachs.
The company was renamed Motivate early this year, and has since added a bike-share system in Jersey City.
In 2016 and 2017, Citi Bike will expand further in New York City neighborhoods that include Harlem, Astoria, Gowanus and Red Hook.
Cyclist Paul Russell, 36, of Williamsburg, said he likes using it to commute to his job in Manhattan, and used a Citi Bike station near Penn Station Monday. He likes the new expansion, but is frustrated that it’s not moving uptown fast enough.
“I don’t understand why there’s none uptown. Every area in London is covered,” he said. “It has improved my cycle because there’s obviously more docking stations, but it is also frustrating that that when I want to go see a friend or go to brunch in Harlem, I can’t cycle up.”