As youths, it was in Riverside where we escaped the confines of prep school to frolic in the animal kingdom, or trade stories with an old man who lived underground while his campfire cracked and licked at painted walls, and it was in Riverside on Christmas eve that Lester, Bat, Marley and I dove into piles of freshly discarded pines – light as haystacks and fragrant like a forest.
So of course it would be Riverside where a wily band of nudniks chose to dump their dozen Citi Bikes. Were they stolen? Has someone figured out how to hack a Citi Bike rack?
But it had to be a group because the nearest station is over a mile away, and to get twelve bikes to 97th – from 59th – that would take a lot of time. Were they somehow lost – at $1,000 per bike -that would be a hefty fine! Or was it a statement “Bring Citi Bikes to the Upper West Side, By Any Means!”.
Materializing after midnight and vanishing before dawn their origins and disappearance remain a Riverside enigma. Though the intent seems clear, these stolen Citi Bikes set free in Riverside Park send a message of dissent to the Bloombergian powers that be.
“According to Thompson (1967) the shift from cock as timepiece to watch as timepiece signified a paradigm shift. Before the cock people told time by the sun. Chaucer’s cock reflects an agricultural modality. Can the current shift from wristwatch to smartphone be interpreted as a harbinger of the Internet revolution?”Christina quickly picked up on this thread writing “… as we consider this shift from watch to smart phone we also consider how this shift functions for Capitalism. Certainly there are implications for blurring the time of the working day. Are there other implications?”
5. And finally, everyone else has a smartphone, so if I need one they’re never far away.
1. Though I’m a far cry from self reliant, recently I’ve felt the desire to be in command of my own smartphone. Perhaps, it’s a response to the uncertainty associated with writing one’s dissertation proposal. I don’t know how that will turn out, but I do know that right now it’s 51 degrees in Central Park, I’ve read the Times top ten article titles, and my commute today will take exactly 37 minutes.
2. On a number of occasions I’ve yearned for a smartphone to direct me to the nearest Citi Bike station, or at least a station with working bikes. It’s this on the fly type of adjustment that only a computer in your pocket can provide.
3. Entertainment. I almost always carry a print version of the New Yorker, or The Atlantic in my bag or back pocket. However, I can’t carry the whole paper – or all the articles I’m perusing. One might counter – but you can’t read them all on the go anyway. Instead of reading I occasionally use the headset on my nokia to listen to the radio, but it doesn’t work on the train and I’m growing tired of NPR – especially during pledge week.
4. As noted in a previous post, I’ve become more reliant on my google calendar. In the past I used my trusty notebooks to keep track of daily engagements. However, now that I use my google calendar more often, the process of transferring information from the notebook to the calendar is flawed and has become cumbersome. For example, I might be at a meeting (without my laptop?!) and I want to schedule another meeting – but I don’t have my calendar because google has it.
5. I want the ability to check my latest email. If I don’t choose to respond right away I don’t have to – but at least I’ll know what’s ahead. Which leads to a larger existential question – is it better to know about the email lurking in your inbox, or to live with the possibility that there is a pressing matter at hand that you don’t know about?
In Color Me Blue Ephron makes humorous, poignant and cutting observations about how Citi Bank did quite well for themselves in the Citi Bike deal at the expense of New Yorkers aesthetics and tax dollars.
“For $41 million — what Citibank paid to sponsor the program for five years — our city bikes became Citi Bikes. To make certain you don’t forget this fact, a Citi Bike sign hangs in front of the handlebars, Citi Bike is printed twice on the frame, and a Citi Bike billboard drapes the rear wheel on both sides. The font is the familiar Citibank font and the Citibank signature decoration floats over the “t.” There is no way to see a Citi Bike without thinking Citibank. The 6,000 bikes so far rolled out, of a possible 10,000, and their signs are a Day-Glo cobalt blue that you see on banks. Nobody wears this color. Nobody paints his or her apartment this color. This blue is bank blue”.
Don’t worry New Yorkers we aren’t the only ones subsidizing big business, as Greg Easterbrook points out in a recent Atlantic article on the NFL, the subsidization of major businesses like sports franchises is a national pastime.
Ever wonder where your tax dollars went America? (hint, it’s not just health care)
“Last year was a busy one for public giveaways to the National Football League. In Virginia, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, who styles himself as a budget-slashing conservative crusader, took $4 million from taxpayers’ pockets and handed the money to the Washington Redskins, for the team to upgrade a workout facility. Hoping to avoid scrutiny, McDonnell approved the gift while the state legislature was out of session. The Redskins’ owner, Dan Snyder, has a net worth estimated by Forbes at $1 billion. But even billionaires like to receive expensive gifts.
Taxpayers in Hamilton County, Ohio, which includes Cincinnati, were hit with a bill for $26 million in debt service for the stadiums where the NFL’s Bengals and Major League Baseball’s Reds play, plus another $7 million to cover the direct operating costs for the Bengals’ field. Pro-sports subsidies exceeded the $23.6 million that the county cut from health-and-human-services spending in the current two-year budget (and represent a sizable chunk of the $119 million cut from Hamilton County schools). Press materials distributed by the Bengals declare that the team gives back about $1 million annually to Ohio community groups. Sound generous? That’s about 4 percent of the public subsidy the Bengals receive annually from Ohio taxpayers”.
The week of the bike began with with Manfrank and Michael riding up the Hudson from 59th to Van Cortlandt Park . The trail ends at my old block – Dyckman street – and there we ducked into the neighborhood, rode to the tip of Manhattan and then hit Broadway up to Van Cortlandt, where apparently there is a trail to Westchester (that’s for next time!).
The next day I turned my stiff neck and ogled as a sworm of bikers (the motorized kind) stormed up Amsterdam Avenue and later saw where they went after that.
Like many of my New Yorker friends I let the summer slide by without taking a ride on a Citi bike. As you know if you’ve seen some of my past posts – I do have a couple bikes, so why use Citi bike? Last week I gave it a try, and here’s what I found:
Citi Bike Pros:
1. Crosstown Cruising
It’s great for short little jaunts, like going from the red line to the east side, or from the Graduate Center (34th and 5th) where I go to school, to Baruch (24th and Lex), where our gym is located.
You get a little exercise and fresh air, instead of being stuffed in the subways and sluggish buses.
3. One Free Ride!
The price is reasonable, I did the $25 for a week pass, and $100 for the year doesn’t seem so bad either. Citi even has a promotional offer this month – a day for free!
As Manfrankager and I found out you can even ride tandem – getting more bang (pause) for your buck!
(Sorry no photo – you’ll have to use the old imagination).
$hiti Bike Woes:
(sorry- I couldn’t help myself)
1. The Codes Don’t Work
To get a bike -unless you are an annual user – you need to insert your card into the bike kiosk which then gives you a code for each ride. The codes generated by the machines never worked on the first try, even after trying multiple bikes. When you call the Citi Bike helpline they require your name, phone and credit card number before offering innovative solutions like:
‘Are you sure you typed in the right code?”
The code was 33333, yes I’m sure!
Good news, by that time the mandatory two minutes between getting a ride code is up – so you can go to the machine and try again. For me it was usually the second or third code that worked.
Also on my first perilous trip I watched a woman exit her cab and door a hapless Citi Bike rider (I’ve had nightmares of being doored but – until last week I’d never actually seen it happen).
4. Sorry Foreigners
According to the Portuguese speaking women trying to get a Citi Bike on west 27th street, foreign cards don’t work, and $25 gift cards don’t work either – I watched them try and fail as I waited (thankfully after the third attempt they let me get my code and get moving).
5. The Annual Pass…Not so fast!
After my trial week I signed up for the annual pass. I was ready to ride on. Not so fast! It takes up to 10 days to process. Granted they have to mail you a key – but wouldn’t it be easy enough to let people use their cards at the bike kiosks as they do with the week pass?