NYC Bike Share Launches to Strange, Vitriolic WSJ OpEd

Dorothy Rabinowtiz, Wall Street Journal, bicycling, Citi Bike, New York, NYC Bike Share, Manhattan, Brooklyn, bike lobby, the bike lobby is an all powerful enterprise, Leon Kaye, Michael Bloomberg
NYC Bike Share, terrorizing a borough near you

According to the Wall Street Journal’s Dorothy Rabinowitz, New York will never be the same, ruined by a menace of two-wheeled contraptions that will overtake NYC faster than the Muppets can take Manhattan. The NYC Bike Share Launch has already hastened the city’s decline.

After months of delays, software glitches and Hurricane Sandy, the NYC Bike Share program launched last week on Memorial Day. According to Citi Bike, the program is catching on: almost 15,000 bicycling trips during the previous 24 hours and over 65,000 total and counting. For now, the gleaming blue bicycles emblazoned with the Citi logo are only available south of 59th Street in Manhattan and in a few Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Some glitches, which the New York Daily News gleefully pointed out, occurred during the rollout: many tourists and locals alike were unaware Citi Bike was only open to annual subscribers during the first week. And some of those annual subscribers did not receive their codes in time. One bicycle was even stolen. Commentary has been all over the map.

In a bizarre and doddering rant, which in part came across as commentary suited for The Onion, but mostly demonstrating the tragedy of what can happen if someone forgets to take his or her meds before appearing in a live interview, Rabinowitz launched a tirade against Citi Bike and, that has become a gift that keeps on giving.

In an opinion piece titled “Death By Bicycle,” Rabinowitz opened her soliloquy with her declaration the bike share program was at the hands of a “totalitarian government.” She continued with the mourning of how the blue bikes have “begrimed” the city’s neighborhoods, as if all the plastic surgery on the Upper East Side, chain restaurants in Times Square and trash on the city’s streets did not already blight the Big Apple. (Amusingly enough, when I watched the video yesterday, it opened with a Chevron advertisement.)

Rabinowitz then continues her apocalyptic vision of a city under chaos due to rogue bicyclists weaving in and out of streets and sidewalks as they flout the local traffic rules. She blames the ideologue Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the same radical who has unrepentantly defended New York’s financial services industry and also not only told the teachers unions to shove it, but compared them to the NRA.

Finally, Rabinowitz’s tantrum ends with her insistence that “The bike lobby is an all-powerful enterprise.” (If only we were so lucky). Perhaps in 50 years our children will hear tales of how Trek, Specialized and Giant conspired to rip out city streets, parking spaces and drive-through Starbucks in the quest to turn NYC and other American cities into an Amsterdam, London or Washington, DC (which until last week’s opening of Citi Bike had the nation’s largest bike sharing program).

Naturally, some commentators have taken Rabinowtiz’s bait: Think Progress, for example, listed rebuttals to her nonsense. Other journalists, such as The Atlantic’s James Fallows, simply note how the video shows how the Wall Street Journal has slid from a the globe’s leading business news publication to a News Corp tabloid.

Yes, the bike stations’ aesthetics could have been better; of course bicyclists need to follow the traffic rules; and Citi Bike will experience growing pains. In the end, the bicycling program will complement New York’s transportation infrastructure, and will add to the city’s overall quality of life, not ruin it.

And the truth about Rabinowitz’s manifesto is that it is one of the best video clips coming from a New Yorker since Harriet Christian’s tantrum against Barack Obama’s impending presidential nomination in 2008.

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is the editor of and frequently writes about business sustainability strategy. Leon also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable BrandsInhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost).

[Image credit: Citi Bike]

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010. He has lived across the U.S., as well as in South Korea, Abu Dhabi and Uruguay. Some of Leon's work can also be found in The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. You can follow him on Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost).

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