Barnacle Bike Was Likely In The Hudson River Since Last Summer

Everyone wants to know more about the Citi Bike that was apparently dredged from the Hudson River and returned to an Upper West Side bike share dock sometime before last weekend, beautifully bedecked in barnacles and shells. So we asked the experts at the The River Project for their thoughts about the journeys of Barnacle Bike.

"Based on the oysters on the handlebar, we'd say it's been in the river since at least August, potentially since June," Melissa Rex, Director of Education at the River Project, told us after analyzing photographs of the bike. "It's hard to say exactly because a) it's difficult to get an accurate sense of the oysters' sizes from a picture and b) their growth rate depends heavily on how well the oysters were positioned to get food (plankton). August was around the end of the wild oyster spawning season, at least based on what we observed at Pier 40."

The other shell on the handlebars, the one that looks sort of like a clam, is a "ribbed mussel. It all certainly looks like it came out of the Hudson," Rex said. "It's really very cool that oysters settled on it, as they might not have appeared there just a few years ago (although I guess the Citi Bike wouldn't have been around either)."

"Anecdotally, this was a great year for the Hudson’s wild oyster population," she added. "We saw a lot of spat—'baby' oysters that have recently settled onto a surface—around Pier 40, and have heard reports of them all along the lower estuary. It’s great news, because it suggests that local oyster restoration efforts are succeeding." (There was also that huge oyster as big as a shoe!)

The bike was discovered in a Citi Bike dock by Riverside Drive and West 73rd Street—right in Riverside Park—by Ted Geoghegan on Saturday and was removed on Sunday. A Citi Bike spokesperson did confirm that the bike had last been used in September 2017, but hasn't responded to our queries about when the bike returned or how missing bikes are tracked.

Intriguingly, it's been noted that bike share bicycles covered in barnacles have been spotted in Malmö, Sweden, raising questions about whether this is an elaborate art project:

Another tipster, John Reische, contacted us about a Citi Bike—with a different number— that had been tossed into the Hudson near West 72nd Street during the summer of 2017. "The bike was exposed at low tide and would be covered by water the rest of the day," he said, raising the possibility there's a serial Citi Bike murderer on the loose.

Citi Bike in the Hudson River, circa summer of 2017 (Courtesy of John Reische)

At any rate, we're here to work on the Netflix adaptation:

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