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A Design Fiction for Citi Bike

Citi Bike NYC is a great scheme for regular users. For less than $100 you can get a key fob, and borrow bikes for 45 minute intervals over a whole year.

But day and week passes aren’t so great, particularly for tourists. You have to go through numerous steps via a touchscreen at a bike station, supply personal information each time, let Citi Bike place a $101 hold on your credit card, then tap in a temporary code at a dock that expires after 5 mins. After all that you only get 30 mins to ride without paying an overage fee.

So it’s little wonder that Citi Bike isn’t popular with tourists, when uncertainty about whether the service is for them, language barriers, and lack of familiarity with the city are thrown into the mix.

For our ‘Design in Public Spaces’ class we investigated these issues – using the bikes ourselves and conducting interviews in the field – then developed scenarios for a better service experience.

We kept our solutions from being set too far in the future, as Citi Bike were keen to see ideas that could be achieved without radically altering their existing infrastructure. Unlocking more of the tourist market is a key strategic interest for them at this time, and they were pleased with what we produced in the few short weeks we had available.