Imagine arriving to New York City as a tourist—you gaze, wide-eyed, at the flashing lights of Times Square, while your nose acclimates to the stench of wet trash and human skin. To your left, a dirt-tinged Cookie Monster menaces a child while Woody repairs to the alley behind Applebees to urinate. What better way to experience this festival of stimuli than from the wide, padded seat of a Citi Bike?
Consider, then, the crushing disappointment you must feel when you realize, after waving your credit card at the kiosk from multiple angles, that Citi Bike is not meant to be. Not for you. Not today. You could walk to another station, but it's so hot and you don't have time right now. Defeated, you descend the rank subway stairs as Dante descended into hell, only in hell, you don't have to pay $2.50 for a MetroCard, amirite?
Such is the dystopian nightmare depicted in today's Post, where hordes of Citi Bike-eager masses face crushing disappointment. To wit: “It’s pretty disheartening, really,” said lawyer Aditya Basrur, 29, whose Sunday-afternoon cycling plans with friends visiting from Australia were ruined because of the glitch." Ruined! How quickly we've forgotten about Dr. Frank, who just last week was on the cusp of being violently shoved out of the bike rental business because of the sudden monopolization by Citi Bike.
Things were worse in Brooklyn, where José Torres and his wife waged long and fruitless battle against the maleficent kiosk.
"His wife tried checking out a bicycle, but her code wouldn’t work, so the couple ended up wasting at least half their rental time trying to get things going," the paper writes. This sentence makes excellent use of the New York Post Style Book, which states that in the absence of facts, use highly ambiguous language and wild gesticulations to distract the reader: "His wife tried checking out a bicycle, but her code wouldn’t work, so the couple ended up wasting at least half an hour pushing buttons, making shadow puppets and teaching a shih tzu to do the Macarena before eventually oh my god is that Pauly Shore?" Much better!
True to form, the Times reserved its reportage for only the most lofty of Citi Bike experiences. Here we meet 25-year-old Joe Spitaleri, who so exhausted himself pedaling to his yoga class that he didn't even want to go to yoga anymore. And here's Mauren Motta, a Brazilian who actually planned an entire international vacation "around the arrival of bike sharing."
The Daily News lingers somewhere in between, documenting instances of broken machines, pedals and hearts. 22-year-old Samantha Friedman is introduced as she struggles with a machine at W. 24th Street at 7th Avenue in Manhattan. “We put in three credit cards and none worked,” she told the News, which then snapped a photo of the dejected Friedman, gripping the bike's seat in distress, her lower lip protruding into a disenchanted moue.
So far, Citi Bike has been meticulous about compiling and sharing its data. As of 5 p.m. yesterday, the program has logged 65,803 trips, totalling 201,937 miles. It has 27,678 total annual members. In just one day, 2,765 were purchased. But tell us this, Citi Bike: How many weekends were ruined because of ailing kiosks and missing pedals? How many arms grew sore from swiping credit cards that would never run, not even after 1,000 slow and methodical swipes? How many vacations booked based on Citi Bike's arrival have been eroded?
How much more heartache will we have to endure before we realize that we were not ready? Before we can set the bikes ablaze and return to a world—primitive, but pure—where men and women struggled not with Citi Bike, but contented themselves pooping on the subway and pushing strangers onto the tracks? After all, New York is not Paris. Nothing bad ever happens here.