The New York City's new shared bike program was set to launch Monday morning, but crews ran into trouble before the first rider could legally attempt to pedal away. Someone illegally pedalled off with one of the bikes late Sunday evening. 6,000 bikes were supposed to be available across New York City Monday morning for people willing to brave the city streets on two wheels instead of four. The idea: residents can pick up a bike and go whenever they please, so long as they drop it off at one of the stations scattered across town.
Except when the sun rose on New York, only 5,999 bikes were available for riders. Yes, someone in New York City stole the first Citibike before crews could lock them at their stations last night. The New York Post reports someone snuck up on workers who were loading the bikes into the stations around 6 p.m. when a thief was able to nab one of the $825 bikes and make a clean getaway before the crew realized what happened. The thief remained "at large" as of Monday morning, according to the Post.
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So that was one less bike to ride for the hundreds of bike share members who were supposed to get keys allowing them to use the bikes in the mail that never showed up. Certain bike share members were supposed to receive a fob in the mail allowing them to skip the one-time rental charge a normal rider would pay. Gothamist owner Jake Dobkin was one of the many left out in the cold with only his feet to defend himself. "When I think about how many people with lower Klout scores have gotten their keys," Dobkin told Gothamist. "It hurts," he added later. Dani Simons, the bike share's director of marketing, blamed the U.S. postal service for the mistake.
Of course, it's been an uphill battle for the Citibike program. The road to launch day was paved with litigious residents in Brooklyn and the Village, trumped up reports about blocking emergency access to certain buildings, and a mini-scandal about fat riders being left behind. If anything, one stolen bike on launch day is nothing at this point. But the important thing is the bikes are here, finally, for everyone to use and enjoy on this day off. Now go ride a bike, any bike. You've spent too much time inside this weekend.