Riding a Citi Bike across the country makes you a thief, not a hero

citi bike
These don’t belong in California. Photo by Mary Dorn

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.


  1. newyork212718

    Seriously. This is nothing more than a complain-piece, sounding as if it’s from an elementary school child.
    You don’t return a bike, you pay 1200 bucks. He made that choice. It’s that simple.

    However, WAHHHHHH – someone else could have used that bike. Really?
    REALLY? BROKELYN? You should be embarrassed and probably re-evaluate the type of site you’re running.

    Perez Hilton has more journalistic cred, when put up against this immature, no-purpose, “op-ed”.

    Get your shit together.

    • David Colon

      The entire purpose of the system is to share a finite amount of bikes among a population. So if you think just taking a bike for yourself and not sharing it is using that system the way it was intended to be used, maybe you’re the one with the credibility problem.

      • newyork212718

        He bought the bike.
        Also, he’s a single individual which executed an event that’s unlikely to be repeated.

        If so, even if copycats (1, 2, 3 – how many do you really think there will be) attempt to do the same, it’s still a decimal percentage which does not disrupt the system. It’s completely negligible.

        Couple that with the fact that he PAID for the bike, as appose to trying to get a free ride in the name of “Art” or his personal mission, all is well.

        If he got a pass from Citibike, MAYBE you’d have an argument. Yet, he took the bike – paid the fee – went on with his adventure – and made a story out of it.

        No harm/No foul.

  2. newyork212718

    He had the money to blow, an essentially bought the bike.
    Many can’t afford to execute such a quirky adventure -in time, and/or funds.

    Regardless, he did.
    He made a story out of it, and he paid his due to the company.

    We live in a society of rats, tattle-tales, and complainers.
    The “Article” could literally be a Portlandia skit, with some disgruntled “writer” finding things to bitch about.

    What’s the deal with airline food these days?

  3. Carver2211

    David. Dude. Take this down immediately before you become a meme. And stop whining, fer chrissakes. Removing (BUYING) one bike out of the fleet didn’t make anyone late for work.

  4. This piece is horrible. Effectively the author is chastising someone for making a slight divergence out of the system. The rider should be heralded for doing what we all wish we had the courage to do, not berated in this sad fashion.

    • David Colon

      You’re wrong, the piece is good. If you wish you had the courage to steal, you should try starting small and taking a candy bar from a bodega and then move on to bigger things, if you can handle it.

  5. Brooklynborne

    David sounds like such a whinny duche! Stumbled onto this site and after reading this rediculous piece won’t be clicking around here much more. Self righteous meme indeed.

  6. The stupidest, whiniest post I’ve read in months. 1) He paid for the bike. 2) It’s great publicity for CitiBike. They should be paying HIM. The false outage of this post seems to prove there are no real issues to talk about.

  7. Wanda

    I followed the journey on IG and understand what you mean. It’s frustrating when I want a bike and the dock is empty.

    T paid the fee,and so have people who haven’t docked their bikes properly.

    I have also reported stolen bikes, went out of my way to return two bikes I found abandoned. Found one painted red chained at Columbus Circle. And, I’ve seen twice, guys systematically pulling at bikes from docks to steal them.

    With T’s paid fee, new bikes could be bought. Yet, bikes stolen because they were not properly docked, were about that.

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