John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
Watch New Yorkers swarm a Citi Bike station like mad ants while cars sit virtually idle across the street.
If you want to see one of the most effective advertisements for bike sharing that wasn’t produced by a bike-share program, look no further than this footage of people swarming a Citi Bike station while cars sit parked right across the street.
Luke Ohlson recently recorded the mad rush in time lapse at 5 p.m. on a weekday to make a point about transit in New York. “Parking takes up 150,000 acres of New York City street space, yet a majority of New Yorkers do not drive or use cars,” says Ohlson, a senior organizer at Transportation Alternatives, an activist group that promotes biking, walking, and public transit. “If we use some of the public space that is currently allocated to parking differently, the whole neighborhood can benefit.”
The videographer chose to shoot at Broadway and East 22nd Street because of the block’s vastly disparate usages of similarly sized public spaces. “The Citi Bike dock and the parking spots take up roughly the same area with much different results,” he says. “In just over an hour, there are nearly 200 bike trips taken compared to 11 car trips.”
Ohlson, who is a Citi Bike user when not taking the train or riding his own bike, hopes his video will convince people that carving out more street space for popular transportation options is an excellent way to go.
“Citi Bike’s own data shows that during summer months, each of their [10,000] bikes is used an average of six times a day,” he says. “Meanwhile, we saw some of those car spaces turn over only once. You can fit roughly seven Citi Bikes in the space that would fit one car. So, Citi Bike is about a 42-times more productive use of space than car parking.”