How we’re rebalancing the Citi Bike system

Over the past few months, Citi Bike ridership has changed drastically. Between riders working from home, only taking necessary trips, or commuting weird hours to their essential job, we’ve never seen the likes of these bikeshare patterns. What changed?

New trends

On standard weekday commutes, there are typically 45% more evening commuters than morning commuters. During COVID, this trend has become even more pronounced, with more than twice as many evening trips.

Pre-COVID, we saw 35% more rides into and out of the Financial District and Midtown on weekdays than weekends and 10% more weekday than weekend riders overall. Since COVID, weekend ridership into these neighborhoods has increased by 7%.

Riders typically like to ride downhill rather than uphill (don’t we all!), but that means that stations on hills can lose bikes quickly. The Upper West Side neighborhoods experience this trend in particular.

Some geographies are very unbalanced in terms of their ridership patterns — for example, hundreds of bikes “drain” from the Upper West Side (riders unlock bikes but don’t return them) every day, while bikes “pool” (riders return bikes, but don’t unlock them) in South Brooklyn neighborhoods like Red Hook and Cobble Hill.

Citi Bike — and bike share networks around the world — don’t experience demand uniformly over a day or within neighborhoods. It’s one of the most dynamic (and hardest) aspects of bikeshare.

How do we solve for trends and make sure to match bikes where riders are looking to ride them? With a series of algorithms that predict future demand with AI-driven rebalancing. Check it out!

To deliver against these algorithms, we use four main operational levers: valets, Bike Angels, bike trains, and motorized vehicles. These help bring bikes where they’re needed most.

Bike Angels

Bike Angels are Citi Bike riders who improve the availability of bikes and docks for fellow riders and earn rewards along the way.

You can become a Bike Angel today! Sign up from your profile to start earning rewards for the rides you take every day with your Citi Bike app.

learn more

Valet schedule

Citi Bike offers Valet service for expanded bike and dock availability at high-volume stations during peak periods. A Citi Bike team member staffs each station to increase capacity for our riders.

Valet service is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Look for a Valet icon on the Citi Bike map for live service status before riding.

See the valet schedule

Bike trains

Our bike train operators pedal a special ebike with a “train” carriage at the end that can carry 12–16 bikes. These are great for narrow neighborhood streets that would be tough to navigate otherwise.

Motorized vehicles

For long-distance rebalancing, we also have a 24/7 team positioning large quantities of bikes at key locations via motorized vehicles. For example, bikes typically “drain” from the Upper West Side, but “pool” in areas like Red Hook and Cobble Hill.