The notion of a bike share program is one of democracy—a nominal sum is exchanged for the ability to borrow a bicycle for a short period of time, eventually leaving the bicycle for use by someone else. All of the bikes are the same, and everyone—rich and poor, tall or small, Lindsay Lohan or petrified child, must equally suffer the burden of figuring out how to dock them.
Unless, of course, you're the brand of real American who doesn't quite grasp the concept of sharing. Spawned from a long line of descendants, the first of which probably landed at Plymouth Rock, enjoyed a territorial piss along the sandy shoreline and announced that all of this is "ours" now, one Citi Bike user has similarly placed a U-Lock on one bicycle over which he or she has decided s/he has rightful ownership. Yes, you pay the same membership fee as everyone else, but this country was not built on fairness or decency, and no one ever gets ahead playing by the rules.
The above photo was sent to us by tipster John Marsh, who found this Reserved Citi Bike at the dock on East 20th Street near FDR Drive late last month. He promptly penned the following notice to Citi Bike brass:
I wanted to formally bring to your attention the following unfair practice of reserving your own Citibike by putting a lock on it, or effectively booting it so other riders can't take it out.
I came along at 8:20 am this past Thursday, June 19th delighted to see a lone bike at the E20th and FDR station in Dock #34. After inserting my Citibike key in I was surprised to see that a U-Lock had been placed around the back wheel of bike number 06656. I immediately re-docked the bike, took these photos and called the incident into Citibike Customer Support number.
Whomever (whichever Member) successfully undocked and rode this bike next to another Citibike station should be warned or disciplined in some manner for this inappropriate behavior.
Marsh received the following response on July 3:
Thank you for contacting NYC Bike Share, operator of Citi Bike, and thank you for alerting us to this technical issue.
I have forwarded your message to our operations team so that they may look into this further. This practice is definitively against the rules of our system, as well as against the community spirit of bike share.
Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Thank you very much for your patience and understanding.
For additional comments or inquiries, please respond to this email. Please sign up for our e-mail list and visit our website and social media regularly for updates. You can also text "Citibike9" to 55155 for text alerts.
If only we could place personal U-locks on other services: A coveted seat on the subway during rush hour? Parking spaces? Our own personal bike racks, oh sorry, we've done that. Preferred servers at restaurants and the best spot on the lawn at outdoor movies?
We reached out to Dani Simons, Citi Bike's Director of Marketing, to learn more about the type of punishment the Special Member should expect to endure. She responded that this was the first instance of a Citi Bike being locked in a dock that she's aware of, and would get back to us.
In the meantime, we are available for consultation if Alta Bike Share is in need of suggestions.