Citi Bike Rental and Repair Basics (+Video)

Citi Bike Rental and Repair Basics (+Video)
A couple get their Citi Bike bicycles from a station near Union Square as the bike sharing system is launched May 27 in New York. (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK—Citi Bike has been on the streets for almost two months, and residents have basically adjusted to having 6,000 new bicycles on the streets. 

Some general use and maintenance issues related to the heavy blue bikes have arisen, largely over checking out and returning, and what to do if something goes wrong with the equipment. 

Citi Bike has made checking out a bike simple: you can either get an annual membership or rent a bike on an as-needed basis. You have 45 minutes to check out the bike from a rack and return it to another rack on an annual membership. With a one-off use, there are 30 minutes to ride. 

Either way, it’s necessary to unlock the bike from a docking station (annual members can use their Citi Bike key). The green light is the signal that you can take the bike out. Though you cannot change gears, you can adjust the seat height. 

There is no law in New York City that you must wear a helmet to ride a bicycle, but you do need to stay on the street. Bicycle riders must act as cars, following the same traffic rules, including yielding to pedestrians and stopping at red lights.

Things can definitely get more complicated if something goes wrong with the bike you’re riding. This could complicate things because, if you miss your time window, you might incur a fine.

Some of the most common problems the bikes have include flat tires, broken pedals, and chains that are loose or falling off, according to a Citi Bike repair staffer who asked not to be identified. The general rule is that if something goes wrong, you need to walk the bike to the nearest station and dock it. 

To dock the bike and make sure it’s checked back in, just shove the bike into one of the docking stations and you’re done.