Citi Bike Helps NYC New Year’s Eve Ball Drop Go Green

Andrew Klips  |

For visitors to New York City, it’s hard to not notice all the people scuttling around on blue bicycles or the hundreds of bike kiosks with the moniker “citibike” spread throughout the city, complete with touchscreens and docking stations where the bikes can be rented. Other cities, such as Chicago and Washington, D.C., have bike sharing/renting programs as well, but from a sheer numbers perspective, no other city competes with the volume of NYC pedalers of the rentals. The NYC Department of Transportation said that about 33,000 daily trips were taken during August on Citi Bike rentals, accounting for roughly one-third of all bicycle traffic in service areas.

Citi Bike Seeing Heavy Use Despite Winter Weather

Citi Bike users are reported to have taken more than 5.8 million trips covering in excess of 11 million miles in the first 200 days since the program was launched in May. That distance is equivalent to over 450 trips around the planet. Even temperatures below freezing have not stopped cycling activity, with more than 19,000 trips made on December 11, according to the DOT.

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The bikes sport the Citibank (C) name, but what do they get out of it? Branding, of course. The big bank kicked-in $41 million to help launch the program and in return has their name plastered all over the city, including two times on the bike itself and once on the digital screen on the front of the bike. Profits from rentals are splits between Alta Bicycle Share (a private company that runs the system) and New York City, although according to commentary by Mayor Bloomberg late in October, the program isn’t making any money yet, but it wasn’t losing much at that point either.

Citi is going to get some more advertising out of the deal with the famous dropping of the ball in Times Square to signal the start of the New Year. In a group release Friday morning, Times Square Alliance, Countdown Entertainment, Citi and the New York City Transportation Department said that New Yorkers and visitors can spend some time spinning the wheels of stationary Citi Bikes to help power the ball drop on New Year’s Eve.

New Year's Eve Ball Drop Powered by Citi Bikes

Starting tomorrow and running through December 30, the Citi Bike Pedal Power Station at 7th Ave and 42nd Street will have six stationary bikes that people can ride to generate kinetic energy. The energy will be  harnessed, stored in batteries and transferred to the NYC power grid to offset the energy needed to light the New Year’s Eve Ball.  Power meters will show how much energy is created to light than more than 30,000 LEDs that make up the New Year’s Eve Ball. It’s expected that each bike will generate about 75 watts per hour.

Participants will get a free Citi Bike day pass and pictures of them riding the bikes.

“After propelling themselves more than 11 million miles over the last seven months, Citi Bike riders will now have a chance to help propel New York City and the world into the New Year,” said Edward Skyler, Citi EVP of Global Public Affairs, in a statement this morning. “The Citi Bike Pedal Power Station will highlight the sustainability of the program and give riders a chance to power one of New York City’s oldest icons with one of its newest.”

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