Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Report: Citi Bike mechanics question the integrity and safety of the new bikes


[Photo on 7th and A by Derek Berg]

The design of the newer-model Citi Bikes are being questioned — by Citi Bikes' own mechanics.

According to an email that the company's unionized mechanics sent to management, as reported by Gothamist:

"We tried to warn management many months ago about these safety issues with the new bikes but were completely ignored," wrote one mechanic and TWU representative in an e-mail to his coworkers last month (he asked that his name be withheld for fear of employer retaliation). "We do not want to be blamed for the catastrophic failure that is the Motivate bike."

In late March, Citi Bike pulled 1,000 bikes from its fleet for maintenance:

“We have determined that the forks in our new bike fleet — the part that holds the front wheel in place — have been wearing faster than expected,” Citi Bike said in its email.

But, according to the email from mechanics, this problem was just the beginning, as the Daily News first reported:

“It's not from high usage,” a Citi Bike staffer with knowledge of its fleet told the Daily News. “To a lot of the mechanics, it means that the company is interested in replenishing the system with bikes of lower quality.”

Parts that hold the rear wheel in place on the new bikes were becoming “skewed and uneven” to the point that it could result in “catastrophic axle breaks and premature hub/wheel failure,” according to the email.

A Citi Bike spokesperson issued this statement to Gothamist yesterday: "The new line of Citi Bikes are very popular with riders with a sleeker, more comfortable design. Like with any innovation we've learned lessons and are making improvements to durability, but all Citi Bikes on the road are extremely safe — with nearly 28 million rides and no fatalities."

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

That would be a sucky way to die. You're some European tourist trying to enjoy a cyle then bam! Your rear wheel falls off and you get run over by a cab. Greaaaat.

Anonymous said...

Bragging only tempts the fates. First rule of bike club is don't talk about the lack of deaths in a bike club.

Anonymous said...

The new bikes are about 500% more comfortable to ride. Not interested in going back to the dangerously clunky and unresponsive original design, thanks very much.

Anonymous said...

Do the CitiSheeple have any way of differentiating the old bike parts from the new ones, or do they have to play Russian roulette?

Greg Masters said...

A shame. The newer bikes seem as durable as the older ones and are certainly much easier to ride.

Edmund Dunn said...

"clunky and unresponsive original design,"

Wasn’t that the whole concept behind the system, so that people had to slow down while riding the 45 pound Blue Devils?

Hey19 said...

@1:23
Its very easy to tell the new bikes from the old, they are entirely different designs.

I dont really get the Sheeple dig, when the other option is being herded onto the subway with the rest of the sedentary.

Henri Cervantes said...

i can barely tell the difference between the old and the new. i.e., they didn't make it suck less, so it must cost less to make.

Anonymous said...

Old, new, they're both shite.

CitBike is an option and status symbol for the young/affluent/tourist. Yes the rest of schmucks have to be herded into the subway and buses because the noble CitiBikers don't want to be associated with us plebians.

Michael Ivan said...

So they bought cheaper bikes on the second pass? Gotta love bottom line economics.

Anonymous said...

If you can't immediately tell the difference between the old and new design you shouldn't be riding a bike in this city. It's like looking at a 90's Volvo and a Ferrari and thinking they look similar.

Anonymous said...

Rats takes the train, hence the term rat race, and Sheeple take CitiBikes, smelling like a festering sheep well after their sweaty back/ass soaked ride to work.

Anonymous said...

So they're saying "HEY, nobody's died yet, ain't we great?!" That is a pretty low bar to set for "safety".

Ask the Flying Wallendas about "nobody's died yet" or the Grucci Fireworks firm about "nobody's died yet". As soon as "yet" catches up with you, the whole world changes.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:38 PM must be the same person who recently commented about Citi bikes being largely part of the tourist industry. I'd invite Anon to stand at Third Avenue and 9th Street any weekday morning between 7-8 (or 9 AM), and tell me how many of the people cycling across town (or uptown on the Fourth Avenue Bike lane) are foreign tourists. My impression is that lots of "regular" New Yorkers are using these bikes. The death of a New Yorker or the death of a tourist is a tragedy--and we should all want the bikes to be of the best quality. If Anon has evidence about the origin of the people using Citi bikes, I'd like to see it posted.

Anonymous said...

Given all the comments here about all the carnage and deaths that would immediately follow the introduction of the bike share program, I wonder if the nahsayers will now admit they were wrong given the system has been in place for 3 years with NO deaths.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute....a BANK compromised people's safety to save money? That just can't be. I hope someone who is married into a family of lawyers wipes out due to the rear wheel coming unfastened. Opps.

Anonymous said...

618pm - Citibank advertises on the bikes They do not run the program so any suit against Cutibank for faulty bikes would have no merit

Giovanni said...

What's this, more PR spin from the program that has already gone bankrupt? There have been many serious accidents involving CitiBikes, but for some reason they never report those numbers. It is a really offensive that CitiBike keeps saying how no one riding a CitiBike has been killed (yet) while over that same period dozens of experienced cyclists have been killed and maimed, not to mention over 500 pedestrians killed and over 40,000 pedestrians injured in traffic accidents in this treacherous city.

As everyone knows the program has been losing money for the start, the first company running it went bankrupt, and it had to be taken over by a new company with deeper pockets. Now they are supposedly putting inferior bikes on the road. Why? To save money of course. And then their own mechanics blow the whistle on them, yet they are still bragging about their safety record. Keep tempting fate, CitiBike, it will catch up with you sooner than you think.

Anonymous said...

New model vs old model citibike snobbery

now I have seen everything

Anonymous said...

i will be the first to admit i predicted many serious injuries if not deaths from citibike. i am happy that there have been none and that more new yorkers are getting exercise and using an eco-friendly mode of transport. i am, however, concerned at the snobbery on display here and the cheap new bikes reverting my fears back to square one.

Anonymous said...

Giovanni - Please show an example of a serious accident involving a citibike that didn't make the media. Because if it's happening as frequently as you say then someone, on some blog, on some facebook post, on some tweet, on some instagram, on some whatever the kids use these days, has written, posted, tweeted, posted, or photographed it.

7:43 Anon: The new bikes are lighter and easier to maneuver. It's not like riding a super-light 19 pound titanium bike, but when the original citibike weighs in at close to 50 pound,s and the new bikes knock off even 10 pounds from that, you can feel the difference.

Anonymous said...

I much prefer riding the newer bikes. More comfortable, lighter, better geometry with better gear ratio and the ribbed handle bar grips don't get as gross as on the old bikes. However they are rattle traps with loose parts and skipping gears. Many more of the newer bikes are out of service at any given rack I frequent. I am not surprised that they are cheaper. They clearly require more maintenance so is anyone really saving any money in the end?

Anonymous said...

I understand its by design but those things are simply ridonkulous. Even the new models. Where is your pride people? Using a citibike to get around might be nice but using your own bike is oh about 40x better. I understand most people don't care about style or efficiency when they ride but I do.

Anonymous said...

I've also seen a bunch of accidents involving CitiBikes, but like most bike accidents they never make the newspaper. But I remember one famous accident where a car was careening out of control down 2nd Avenue and it plowed right into that deli and flower stand on 4th St, hitting a bunch of people including a guy on a CitiBike which got destroyed. This happened just a month after CitiBike launched. The guy riding the CitiBike went to the hospital. Matter of fact, it was reported right here on EV Grieve:

http://evgrieve.com/2013/06/report-car-smashes-into-east-village.html

JQ LLC said...

If Shitibike wants to cut costs and still brag about how safe the bikes are, maybe they should collaborate with Huffy or Schwinn. They still sell well in Kmart and Targets across the country and actually endure a lot longer.

These new models look so weak. And sound weak too, I can actually hear the rattling when some of these dummies overcompensates trying to speed up.

A lot of shitibikers I seen are businessmen types. Tourists by central park actually use other bike rentals that are slimmer 12 speed models.

Anonymous said...

Using cheaper bikes that require more maintenance makes no sense. Remember when CitiBike had to take thousands of bikes off the street to repair them? Now that they have expanded to the Upper East and Upper West sides the mileage on these bikes will increase--some people up there are already commuting from the 80s and 90s to Tribeca and Wall St. every day. The uptown stations are already empty by 9AM and people are complaining they can't find a bike--sound familiar? Once again CitiBike has opted for low density and placed too few bikes and bike stations in the new areas, which just leads to more wear and tear on bikes in those areas. Unless they plan to repair the newer bikes quickly at the docking stations and not take them off the streets, these lighter bikes are going to cause more problems than they are worth.

Michael said...

Long-time NYC bike commuter (25years), road-rider and daily user citi-bike fan here.

The new bikes are definitely a better ride- but prior to the 1000 bike maintenance recall, most of the new bikes didn't have a functioning third gear. Makes me still wary about using them... news about faulty hubs and forks makes me that much more wary.

I don't support the vitriol from other regular bikers. Yeah- the program along with new bikelines and demographic shift to Brooklyn has brought a lot of amateurs out onto the roads. But between the newer riders, pedestrians, cars and even long-time riders needing to rethink their approach now that the streets are more crowded with bikes- we're all slowly getting to a place where we're all more aware of how to navigate the city streets more safely.

Of course there's still the 1/10 rider who is either too stupid or selfish to care- and it's usually those that create the problems (I'm looking at you, citibiker millenial chick swerving around while texting on your damned bike... but also you, wannabe fixie bearded dipshit who blows through red lights without any awareness of pedestrians or cars)

Michael said...

Citibike's yearly cost is roughly the same as one month for an unlimited metrocard. status symbol? affluence? youth? if you don't like taking the train, there's an option- and it's far cheaper than anything other than walking.

but yes, the tourists definitely muck up the works- riding on sidewalks, the wrong way and all-in-all dangerously clueless- especially on the weekends.

Anonymous said...

And Citibikers don't "flame" or "attack" anything or anyone that gets in their way, esp. those aith the right of way and by ringing that damn bell constantly.

THE ORAL REPORTER said...

The citibike system is a dreadful failure in the east village - in particular alphabet city. Bikes are gone by 8 am and never rebalanced. Bike return at 8 pm and completely full until morning. So what's the point? The chosen few worker bees get bikes in the AM and bring them home at night. Why doesn't citibike rebalance this area during the day and remove bikes after 8 pm so slots are open? It makes no sense. I guess Alphabet City is once again doomed to a tranportation wasteland.

Anonymous said...

I agree about Citibike in the East Village. The situation described above has been exacerbated with the coming of the yearly crop of NYU students who just moved into their dorms on Sunday. Best way to vent your frustration is to get the app, email and call Citibike every time you go out and can't find a bike. I have seen them rebalancing many times. You have to make them aware of the situation to get it done.