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Citi Bike: Lots of empty racks on East Side

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By LIZ DAHLEM, Fox 5 News

Empty, empty, empty: There are hardly any bikes at the City Bike rack in Turtle Bay in Manhattan. Neighbors say if they want a ride, they have to keep on walking.

When we checked on Thursday, the rack on East 51st Street and First Avenue had only two bikes. And even if you wanted to hop on, one bike had a red light, indicating it's busted.

Some pictures from last week of racks in the area show very few bikes. A rack at East 48th Street and Third Avenue was almost empty, so a car was parked right in front of it. Ten blocks away, a rack on East 58th Street and Second Avenue had just one bike.

The system has about 6,000 bikes, 91,000 annual members, and 300,000 daily and weekly members.

More people joined after Gilt Groupe, a daily flash sale website, offered a discounted membership. It sold out in no time.

With more people joining, some current riders worry they may not get the wheels they want.

"It would just be a hassle to have the membership and have no bikes be there," said Alex Yarnell of Turtle Bay.

"I cannot plan it as a given transportation when I really need it because there may not be enough bikes," said Anne Drager, of the West Village.

So what's the problem? One theory: Some riders tell us that people take the bikes downtown to work in the morning and then don't ride back at night.

The city says replenishing the bikes is a daily challenge. Every day, three box trucks and nine smaller vehicles bring the bikes to empty stations in an effort to rebalance the system.

We're told crews will look into the racks on the East Side.

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