This weekend marks the fifth anniversary of Citi Bike, the public bicycle transportation system that has, little by little, become part of the fabric of the city that we take for granted. But if you travel back to the distant past of the early '10s, you'll remember a more innocent time—a period when out-of-touch reactionary conservatives and NIMBYs were frothing at the mouth over how Citi Bike would destroy everything good and beautiful about NYC.

And having looked back at some of the more incendiary commentary from the build up to Citi Bike's launch, let me tell you: it is hilarious. But don't take my word for it, travel down the rabbit hole by scrolling down as we revisit a few of the most hysterical hot takes and overreactions.

June 18th, 2012: UN Neighbors Concerned About CitiBike Share Terrorists: Locals near the United Nations are concerned that placing 74 Citi Bikes at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza will be irresistible to terrorists. And also, it might interrupt the farmers market? The star here was Dr. David Gootnik, who spoke at a Community Board meeting and brought up a 2008 terrorist attack in Jaipur, India, during which attackers used bicycles to house their explosives, killing over 50 people. "Why do I share this horrific true story?” he asked. "Because it appears that bombs inserted on or in bike parts could become a tool of global terrorists in our city under a citywide massive bike program." (At press time, no Citi Bikes have been used as terrorist weapons.)

June 22nd, 2012: Bike-Share Program May Mean More Accident Suits Against the City, Liu Warns (NY Times): Former Comptroller John Liu freaked out over the possibility that the city was not adequately prepared for litigation that could result from the program. A DOT spokesman disagreed: "The city has no additional exposure," said Seth Solomonow, "and we informed the comptroller of this before he put his stamp on the contract."

April 18th, 2013: Citi Bike stations raise both praise and opposition in NYC (Brooklyn Eagle): Residents of 150 Joralemon Street in Brooklyn Heights were none-too-pleased with these Citi Bike docks going up over night. "It's very inappropriate to have a bike share station in front of our building," fumed resident Kenneth Wasserman. "This is a very busy block during the day and it's a very quiet block at night. To have 25 docks out there without anybody notifying us beforehand really pisses us off." The DOT's response? They pointed "to the nearly 400 meetings over the past two years of planning as evidence that it made an effort."

April 19th, 2013: Bicycles? Tough sit! (NY Post): Tribeca restaurant owner Jacques Capsouto staged his own one-man protest by sitting in protest on the curb outside his Capsouto Freres bistro where the racks were to be installed. "I told them they could arrest me," Capsouto said. "I’m sitting here. I’m protesting, but Bloomberg does whatever he wants." (For further context: Capsouto Freres closed prior to this because of damage from Superstorm Sandy, and never reopened.)

April 22nd, 2013: Ugly CitiBike Stations Are Ruining Our Historic Neighborhood, Fort Greene NIMBYs Say: Residents of brownstone Brooklyn didn't want their ritzy, tree-lined streets blemished with unsightly blue advertisements-on-wheels. What better way to combat ugly advertisements than by covering them up with still-ugly signs?

Via Brownstoner

April 30th, 2013: West Village Residents File Futile Lawsuit To Stop Citi Bike: As you might have picked up from these articles, it was very hard for some New Yorkers to shake the impression that Citi Bike would soon consume every inch of the city. The co-op board at 99 Bank Street filed a lawsuit to stop the installation of a station for fear it would "severely endanger the health and safety of the residents of 99 Bank Street." As Board President Edward Zimbalatti put it, "It will only be a matter of time before a child or elderly person will be struck by a reckless tourist riding on the sidewalk." (As of today, there has been only one fatality since the program launched.)

May 2nd, 2013: Citi Bike And DOT Have "Fear And Contempt Of Citizenry," SoHo Group Alleges: In a fulminating press release, the SoHo Alliance lashed out at the bike share program for "destroying our art and culture" by installing a stand in Petrosino Square. "Sneaky midnight raids by CitiBank and DOT to destroy public art is an obscenity. This CitiBike scheme seems like it was concocted at a dinner party in Bloomberg's townhouse. We want our art space, not advertising for Citibank."

May 3rd, 2013: "I Don't Care What They Do In Paris, I Live In New York City," And Other Quotes From Last Night's Citi Bike Meeting: Tensions were high in the auditorium of P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village when hundreds of SoHo and Village residents gathered to kvetch about Citi Bikes. Park Slope resident Jeff Prant held up a sign that read, "Bike Share But Not in My Parking Space." He told us: "When I drive into the Village it's going to be harder to park. I would rather not have them at all. It takes parking spots away from people like me. I just don't like it."

May 14th, 2013: Bloomberg's Citi Bike Is JUST Like The Taliban, Conclude Perfectly Reasonable People: Most people are just too politically correct to say what everyone else is really thinking, so John del Signore took this opportunity to salute the bold patriot who compared the Bloomberg administration to the Taliban during a community meeting concerning Citi Bike. As he wrote, "We defy anyone to gaze upon all the Citi Bike stations popping up around town and not think of that repressive regime known for human trafficking, opium smuggling, and... banning women from riding bicycles."

May 15th, 2013: Brooklyn Heights NIMBYs Successfully Relocate Citi Bike Rack: Residents of 60 Remsen Street successfully lobbied to have the rack that was originally placed outside their 83-unit apartment complex banished down the block, where the kiosks would never threaten them or their loved ones again. Lauren Evans writes: "The offending rack was moved around the corner to Hicks Street north of Remsen, where, presumably, it will go on to annoy the residents of that block, creating a Russian nesting doll of endless Citi Bike rage that will eventually culminate in a Gangs of New York-style bloodbath, with bright blue bikes being burned on pyres and ragged, bug-eyed orphans rummaging through piles of trash."

May 21st, 2013: Citi Bike Nearly Kills And Eats 92-Year-Old Man, NY Post Reports: Prior to the launch of Citi Bike, the NY Post breathlessly reported that a 92-year-old man very nearly lost his life after helpless emergency workers became lost in a labyrinth of Citi Bike racks. "With great difficulty they managed to get the guy out,” said Dave Marcus, vice president of the Cambridge co-op board, adding that the racks formed none other than an "impregnable wall.” An FDNY spokesperson had a slightly different take: "The fire units on scene had absolutely no problem accessing this building," Frank Gribbon told us. "There have been no problems, none."

May 28th, 2013: Citi Bike Day One Stats: 6,050 Trips, 13,768 Miles, 3 Sneering NY Post Quotes: There were over 6,000 trips and no accidents on the first day of the Citi Bike launch, but if you happened to read the NY Post the next morning, you'd have thought Armageddon overtook the city. In an article titled "Uneasy riders: City’s bike share off to rocky start," the Post did their reactionary thing where they found three unhappy Citi Bike users and turned it into a story. One person complained the bikes were bulky, another complained because of a momentary glitch in the system, another complained about the smartphone app.

May 28th, 2013: SoHo Citi Bike Opponent: "I Will Die" If DOT Doesn't Remove Bikes From Park: The Petrosino Park controversy hit a new high when artist Minerva Durham, who had been regularly protesting in the park since the bike station was installed, said she would "die for this outrageous violation of the law." (Durham later hosted a semi-nude drawing class in the park as a protest as well.)


May 28th, 2013: Just Buy a Bike! (NY Observer): The Jared Kushner-owned NY Observer got into the anti-Citi Bike hysteria a little late, but they made up for it by railing against elitist cyclists. "The bike-share program, however innocent its intent, represents another governmental incursion into the private marketplace," wrote John Galt Jr. "Rather than encourage business to develop creative solutions to gridlock, the government has imposed its own solution. But what does that matter, if a few people can feel superior to the rest of us?"

May 29th, 2013: 2 People Blame Citi Bike For Making Them Late To Work And Guess Which Tabloid Is ON IT?: If you guessed the NY Post, then you win the No-Prize! John Del Signore wrote, "It was a day that will be remembered by Post readers as the day that two area employees blamed the day-old program for their tardiness. Be sure to pick up a copy of tomorrow's Post for an EXCLUSIVE look at how Citi Bike seats are becoming a popular nesting place for subtropical scorpion colonies."

July 2nd, 2013: Is Citi Bike A Liability Nightmare Or Is The NY Observer Running Out Of Arguments Against Bikeshare?: By this point in the summer, Citi Bike was up-and-running and most of the extreme complaining had died down, with the anti-Citi Bike stories getting replaced by kooky Citi Bike stories (homeless spin classes, drunk cycling, basket children). But the Observer made one last attempt at riling up the crowd by bringing up John Liu's 2012 warning about liability to argue that Citi Bike was a powder keg of personal injury lawsuits.


Dorothy Rabinowitz: We could never, ever forget Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Dorothy Rabinowitz and her contributions to the anti-Citi Bike rhetoric. What Thomas Edison was to the light bulb, Rabinowitz was to out-of-touch reactionary conservatives who lived in fear of bike share. In her first piece on the matter for the WSJ —titled, "Death By Bicycle"—Rabinowitz seemed to conflate her hatred of then-Mayor Bloomberg with the entire program. She also leaned in to some bald-faced lies about cyclists being more dangerous than drivers: "Before this, every citizen knew...that the most important danger in the city is not the yellow cabs. It's the bicyclists who veer in and out of the sidewalk, empowered by the city administration, with the idea that they are privileged, because they are helping, part of all the good forward-looking things."

After a huge backlash (and having her alarmism mocked by The Daily Show), Rabinowitz doubled down on her rhetoric in a followup video a week later. She dismissed every potential criticism that was given to her: the fact that there were hundreds of community meetings about the subject before the city went ahead with the program ("Whom are they asking, who are they talking to?"), any positive polls ("It's really quite laughable"), the argument that biking is healthier for NYers ("I doubt it"), and any mention of obstructed bike lanes ("This is a question that can only be answered by the therapist we hope this biker is consulting for a question like that"). She claimed that policemen, like city council members and community leaders, had their hands tied by an "all-powerful bike lobby." Or as she hilariously put it, they were all "terrorized by this thing that really exists."

With her antipathy to bicycling set in stone, Rabinowitz popped up one more time on our radar in the summer of 2013, when she sat down for an interview with New York Magazine to further expand on her belief that bike share is destroying America. She finally succumbed to Godwin's law: “People walk up to me and say, 'I'm so glad you said that about the bikes.' I say, 'What the hell are we whispering about? What is this, East Germany?' But it's an instinct, because what can we do about it?”

And we shall leave you with one other quote of hers taken from the piece, after the interviewer pointed out that in a recent poll 72 percent of NYers supported Citi Bikes: "I think that's a false poll. Many polls are false, but I think this is one of the falsest. I have a strong feeling that about a year from now many politicians are going to be spending a lot of time distancing themselves from the bike-share program," she said. "Wait until January."