NYC bike share audit reveals problems with maintenance, cleanliness and parking stations

An audit of New York's bike share program reveals spotty maintenance, poor cleanliness and defective parking stations.

That's what city Comptroller Scott Stringer reported Thursday in his review of New York City Bike Share — the largest such program in the country.

Its 6,000 two-wheelers are seen all over Manhattan each day.

As of last August, Citi Bike riders took about 34,000 rides per day, making the program what Stringer calls a "critical component of our transportation network."

However, the comptroller said improvements must be made to comply with the New York City Department of Transportation.

In addition to problems with maintenance, cleanliness and docking stations, Stringer said the bikes are not adequately inspected.

"New York City Bike Share's management of Citi Bike left too many New Yorkers in the lurch," Stringer said. "While Citi Bike has become part of our urban landscape, auditors found that the bike sharing program's spotty maintenance, poorly-cleaned bikes and substandard docking stations inconvenienced riders and discouraged growth in the system."

According to maintenance data, 54 percent of the bikes were inspected last March, and 73 percent in April; the contract with the city requires a 100 percent maintenance check at least once a month.

"With every missed maintenance check, the safety risk of undisclosed bike defects increases," Stringer said.

In addition, the audit showed that of 29 stations sampled in February 2014, only 11 were inspected as required and the remaining 18 were inspected less than twice a week or not at all.

And while the contract requires a response to cleanliness complaints within 48 hours for stations, and 96 hours for bikes, the audit found only 60 percent of the sampled complaints for stations were completed within the required time frame. Of the bike cleanliness complaints, 83 percent remained open for an average of 79 days.

The private program is named for Citigroup, which spent $41 million to be its lead sponsor.

The Bikeshare Holdings company recently announced its plan to purchase Alta Bicycle Share, the parent company of New York City Bike Share — promising an infusion of capital for improvements. In addition, plans are in the works to expand the City Bike system.