New Yorkers, You Can Buy, Rent, or Not Even Ride a Bike

The New York Observer doesn't want you to rent—or ride—a bike.
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(PHOTO: JMAZZOLAA/FLICKR)

(PHOTO: JMAZZOLAA/FLICKR)

This is probably a waste of time and energy, but oh well. Sort of like riding a rented bike—right, New York Observer?

Anyway, earlier today “The Editors” at The Observer put out what is at best a woefully-misinformed-grouping of words and at worst the work of a demon-troll-master. It’s an attempt at a takedown of New York City’s just-launched bike share program, titled “Just Buy a Bike!

Cycling is a wonderful option for those energetic souls who prefer pedaling to a bus, cab, or subway. The cost of a bike is relatively cheap as well—you can get a decent bike, one that will last you many years, at a local shop for less than the price of dinner for two at some of the city’s finer dining establishments.

*nods head*

So why, then, do we have to share bikes?

You don’t ... have to do anything. Citi Bike is an optional program that you can pay for at a daily, weekly, or yearly rate. Or: you can not pay for it. Basic consumerism. (Also, the point of “sharing” and having bike docks is so you can ride a bike somewhere without having to ride it back. Or you can ride it back. It’s your choice! But whatever.)

In inaugurating its bike share program, New York City has now joined the likes of urban thought leaders such as Madison, Wisconsin, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mayor Bloomberg, who deserves an honorary yellow jersey for his contributions to cycling, kicked off the program, along with his transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, designer of the rightfully mocked empty thoroughfares known as bike lanes.

Cute "innovation," Madison and Minneapolis.

The bike share program allows users, who pay a weekly rate of $25 or a daily rate of $9.95, to borrow a bike to ride from one designated station to another. Adherents insist that this will lead to great changes not only in commuting habits but in the city’s culture—after all, sharing is caring.

There is a daily rate, which you’d presumably pay if you wanted to ride a bike for a day and didn’t own one or if you wanted a day’s worth of above-ground transportation for less than $10. And you’d pay the weekly rate if you needed a bike only for a week. This is how subscriptions/memberships work—just like how you can buy a copy of The Observer for $4 or, if you know you’ll want more, buy an annual subscription (49 issues) for $29.50. But oh, they forgot to mention the annual membership to Citi Bike, which exists and costs $95.

What’s more likely is that a few earnest users will take advantage of this city-run program to feel morally superior to those who, for whatever reason, prefer not to sweat their way to a meeting. Never mind the threats to public safety (the Fire Department has expressed concerns about staging its vehicles near bike stations) and the inevitability of accidents involving goofy tourists who can’t even walk on the sidewalks without fouling things up.

There is nothing more insightful than a sweeping psychological assumption by a newspaper that covers media. (Also, note the clever shift to blaming all bike riders now.)

The bike-share program, however innocent its intent, represents another governmental incursion into the private marketplace. Rather than encourage business to develop creative solutions to gridlock, the government has imposed its own solution.

I may be misunderstanding everything about how American society works, but again, this is an optional program. If it works, it’ll work! If it doesn’t work, it won’t work and someone can come up with something better! But sure, blame the government.

But what does that matter, if a few people can feel superior to the rest of us?

Perfect. Write an entire story about feeling superior to dumb bike renters and then shift the blame onto them in the last sentence. Well done.

For everyone else, Citi Bike just launched on Monday. Here are the membership details. Check them out—or don't.

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