Citi Bike marks 10 years on Saturday, May 27.
The bike-share program, which started out with about 300 stations, has now amassed nearly 2,000 stations as it continues to expand.
Joel Epstein has lived in New York just about all of his life, but like many, his view of the city was mostly limited to his neighborhood.
That was until about seven years ago when he began to branch out with Citi Bike.
“I must be one of the most enthusiastic riders in the city,” Epstein said.
That’s because he’s stopped at all of the bike-share company’s every Citi Bike station, 1827 stations within four of the five boroughs, excluding Staten Island because there are no stations in that borough, and another 80 or so stations in Hoboken and Jersey City.
“I was biking a lot because it was nice and warm and I’d be at 50 percent and 51 ...” Epstein said. “I’m a little frankly obsessive and I’m excited about its further expansion.”
It’s a massive feat, but founders of the bike-share program say launching Citi Bike was a much bigger one.
“Anytime you try to change anything it’s challenging,” said Co-founder of Alta Bike Share Mia Birk.
Alta Bike Share was the first ownership group of Citi Bike before the current owners Lyft purchased it in 2018.
"A group of very dedicated leaders who, behind the scenes, took tremendous financial and personal risk," Birk said.
Delays like Superstorm Sandy along with criticism from the public and concern there would be a surge in bicycle deaths that never came to fruition were just some of the factors the original ownership group had to consider.
The first Citi Bike death didn’t happen until four years after its launch and the average number of citywide biking fatalities each year since 2013 is 19.4.
That’s lower than the 20 people who died in bike wrecks in 2012 before Citi Bike launched.
“It’s tough to remember when the only people who biked in New York were really the bike messengers,” Epstein said.
The program has changed the way people in the city get around, expanding despite the cost roughly doubling.
Epstein has an annual membership, waiting for more stations to appear, not only to keep his perfect record with a select group of Citi Bikers, but to explore more parts of the city.
“It gives me access to neighborhoods in the city that I know and love and a lot of neighborhoods that I’ve never been to before,” Epstein said.
Since its initial 5,000 members, membership has grown to 180,000.
The week of May 7, Citi Bike had its highest ridership ever with 867,000 rides.
The top rider of all time has 31,749 rides and counting.