It's been an entire month since a hellacious swarm of extremely blue bikes, designed for the long-awaited Citi Bike program, descended on Manhattan and southwest Brooklyn — an event so momentous that critics predicted a violent insurrection against government officials of New York City, rampant crime, and perhaps a wide-reaching cultural revolution. Literally none of these predictions actually came true, although there have been a few hiccups along the way, mostly concerning the allocation of bikes, the ease of docking them, and the timeless intransigence of apartment building owners. In the meantime, Citi Bike has turned into a fairly enormous success. Take this metric: Since opening to the public, New Yorkers have biked more than 1.28 million miles using the program's bikes. This is equivalent of biking to the Moon 5.3 times. Or biking the perimeter of Manhattan 70,445 times.
Bikes are not a fresh invention, of course, and the terrain of New York City is primed for biking in several ways, including the proliferation of dedicated bike lanes. So Citi Bike's popularity was more or less foreordained. Still, the likes of Wall Street Journal editor Dorothy Rabinowitz — who garnered newfound fame in early June for ranting against "the bicycle lobby" and other imaginary enemies — remain unconvinced of the program's purpose or appeal. Just yesterday, New York published a characteristic interview with Rabinowitz, in which she inveighs against the design of Citi Bike's docks:
“I realized it was like some science-fiction thing,” Ms. Rabinowitz recalled. “The pods have landed, only they've landed with the racks, and they're coming with allies called bicyclists. The activating force behind all of the fury was the racks, instruments of aesthetic torture.”
The racks were ugly and mouse-colored. And the “blazing blue” bikes? Hideous. “I was thinking, No one is going to live with it," she said. "I literally thought that. And then when I saw the bicycles on top of it, I realized this is the stuff of your darkest aesthetic dreams. There is nothing human about the racks. Not even when people get on the bikes.”
It's a brave new world.