Manhattan’s problem-plagued CitiBike rental program is celebrating its initial year in the Big Apple with a one-day special: free donuts and a $1 rental fee.
The free donut is emblematic of CitiBike’s spotty first-year performance (i.e. Why serve fattening junk food to entice people to exercise? What am I missing?).
Donuts and calories notwithstanding, CitiBike has been struggling to peddle uphill against major financial and service issues. And, now, they must decide whether to unionize their employee base (which is demanding it do so).
But, shifting into a higher, and more important, gear, I think the CitiBikes are a major mistake for Manhattan. I know some city residents, including Peppercomm’s Matt Lester, swear by the Sherman Tank-like blue bikes. But, I’ve had more close encounters of the worst kind with CitiBike riders than Manhattan streets have potholes.
I understand the ecological benefits of more bicycles and fewer cars, buses and trucks but, when one adds in eight million residents, billions of neck-craning tourists and millions of daily commuters, Manhattan street corners and crossings need yet another hazard like Chris Christie needs another traffic jam.
The CitiBike menace grows positively terrifying around peak holiday seasons when totally clueless visitors to our country slingshot their rented cycles along sidewalks, through red lights and in the wrong direction on a one-way street (all the time shouting to passers-by: “You tell me! Empire State. Where is at?”).
While they may make perfect sense in other less congested cities, CitiBikes are a bad idea here in the Big Apple. Frankly, I’m amazed there haven’t been more serious accidents directly attributable to the death traps.
I’m all for a cleaner, more pedestrian, runner and biker-friendly city, but there’s a reason for parks and bike lanes: they’re intended for non-motorists.
It’s time for a Curtis Sliwa-type, anti-CitiBike activist to take up the cause and get these infernal machines off our streets. We need a whole new generation of guardian angels.
Until then, a word of advice: in addition to the normal precautions you’d take when crossing, say, 42nd and Fifth Avenue, keep an eye open for a donut-munching, recklessly swerving tourist dodging cars, trucks and buses as he zips his CitiBike through the intersection at the last second. The medical expenses you save may be your own.