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Scofflaw bikeshare company wants to challenge Citi Bike in New York

Spin differs from Citi Bike in two ways: It’s dockless — and not officially approved by the city.
Spin aims to give Citi Bike a ride for its money in New York City.
San Francisco-based Spin is a dock-less bikeshare that is bringing 300 bicycles to New York City — without DOT approval. (Facebook/Spin Bikeshare)

More and more New Yorkers are taking to the streets on two wheels than ever before, thanks in part to the city’s contract with Citi Bike. But now a new bikeshare company hopes to give Citi Bike a ride for its money.

San Francisco-based Spin was going to hold a pop-up demonstration in the Rockaways Monday — and reportedly bring 300 bikes to the city, with half going to the Rockaways and the rest to Manhattan and Brooklyn, City Councilman Eric Ulrich told the New York Post.

However, in a statement to Metro Friday, Spin said that it was postponing the demo, bu it plans "to educate the cycling constituency and press as to how such a system would work in the Rockaways and other communities underserved by transit" with a press conference in Rockaway Beach Monday morning. 

Spin differs from Citi Bike, which launched in 2013 and recently had a record-breaking 70,000 rides in a single day, in two big ways: it is dock-less — and its demo or further operations have not been approved by the city’s Department of Transportation.

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To Ulrich, though, that is something that needs to change.

“Bike sharing represents the future, and I don’t believe we should be protecting Citi Bike as a monopoly,” he told the Post. “Citi Bike has a contract to have docks on city property, and that’s fine, but the city has to let bike riders and New Yorkers decide who they want to pay.”

In a statement to Metro Friday, the DOT said, "We’re interested in what the newest generation of bikesharing technology can do to help us expand access to more neighborhoods and more boroughs, but this can’t be the Wild West, with ad hoc installations that haven’t received city approval and that don’t fully consider the future of bikesharing in New York.

"The public has an interest in a fully-integrated and expanding public bikesharing program that embraces the latest technology," the agency added. "We are currently exploring the next phase of expansion and are considering this new technology’s potential to enhance those plans."

Spin said that it is "glad the city recognizes the potential that dockless bikeshare can have on underserved communities like the Rockaways" and that the company "is dedicated to working with local city governments, as evidenced by our work in South San Francisco, Dallas and Seattle, where we lead the way in collaborating on a landmark stationless bikeshare permit."

What's the difference between Spin and Citi Bike?

Whereas Citi Bike riders pick up and return bicycles to one of 600 docking stations, Spin uses app-enabled bike locks that let riders pick them up and return them “anywhere responsible, as if it were your own bike,” its website said.

Spin rides are $1 per half hour, and members can go unlimited for $29 a month.

Citi Bike offers a $12 day pass with 24-hour access and a three-day, 72-hour pass for $24. Both feature unlimited 30-minute rides, with each additional 15 minutes an extra $4. Annual membership is $163 and includes the first 45 minutes of each ride. Each additional 15 minutes is $2.50.

Time will tell how New Yorkers react to dock-less bikesharing, which reportedly caused clogged streets in China and London. Just last week, London officials began confiscating bicycles left on sidewalks and in parks.

 
 
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