It’s the story everyone loves: hey look at this goofy guy who rode a Citi Bike all the way to California! What a nut! He’s a reason to love New York if we’ve ever heard one! Well, call us old fashioned, but we don’t see anything to celebrate here. If you think about this story beyond the quirk factor of it, it’s pretty clear what happened here. This guy Jeffrey Tanenhaus stole a Citi Bike and took it to California. He should have been met at the California border by the NYPD, not NBC.
Look, we get it, it sounds fun and weird. Riding a Citi Bike across the Williamsburg Bridge is a pain in the ass, so goodness just imagine riding it 2700 miles across the country! Here’s the thing though, Citi Bike is shared system of bikes available to us all. It relies on the goodness in our hearts to return the bikes to a dock and make them available to the next person who wants to ride one. It’s a bike share system, not a “bike return it after you’ve gone on a cross-country journey while trying to find yourself” system. This is the tragedy of the commons, except everyone thinks it’s a damn comedy instead.
Who cares that Tanenhaus will pay the maximum fine, $1200, for exceeding his ride time? It’s in the Citi Bike rules, it’s literally the least he can do. No wait sorry, the least he could have done was act within the bounds of the system and return the bike to a dock after 45 minutes so that a fellow New Yorker could use the bike. There are plans for 10,000 Citi Bikes to be on the streets of New York City by 2017. You think there aren’t 10,000 people living here who can afford to pay the $1200 late fee if they feel like it? There were almost 500 Citi Bikes stolen in the city this year just through August alone, and that was before it was apparently alright to steal one as long as you do something quirky with it. How funny and quirky will it be when taking a Citi Bike to Kennebunkport or Martha’s Vineyard or Diddy’s White Party becomes the cool new rich person thing to do and we’re down thousands of Citi Bikes for months or weeks at a time? Not too funny.
As for Tanenhaus, who stole a Citi Bike because he was bored with his job, what does he have to say for himself?
“I’ve spent enough time on this bicycle – it’s someone else’s turn. I’m happy to return it back to the bike-sharing system.”
Yeah, no shit. It was actually someone else’s turn to ride the bike four months and forty-five minutes ago.