The Prototype for Citi Bike Was Invented By Monk Eastman, A Pigeon-Loving Gangster From Williamsburg

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Image via Wikipedia
Monk Eastman, circa 1910-1920
Earlier this month, Citi Bike announced that its bike renters had taken over 5 million rides. And while they're certainly the biggest name in the bike rental game today, if they were operating 100 years ago, they'd have some stiff competition from Monk Eastman, an eccentric Brooklyn-born gangster who ran one of the earliest, most successful bike shares in the city's history, when he wasn't busy hoarding animals, beating people up, or smoking copious amounts of opium.

Eastman was reputedly born Edward Osterman in Williamsburg, Brooklyn around 1873 (although some accounts contend he was born in Corlear's Hook, now a park area on the Lower East Side). He loved cats and pigeons, so much so that his father, a Jewish restaurant owner, helped set him up with his own pet shop.

But the pet store game failed to excite him, and he left in the mid-1890s to become a bouncer (or "sheriff", as they were then known) at the mammoth New Irving Dance Hall. Eastman sounds like he was a real looker in his prime, according to a description of him in Low Life, Luc Sante's classic book about the seedy underbelly of turn-of-the-century New York:

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Who Is This Man and Why Is He Taking His Picture With So Many Citi Bikes?

Categories: Citi Bikes

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citibiker.tumblr.com
If you search the #CitiBike tag on Tumblr, this man's face will haunt you for pages on end. He pops up over and over again--in different places around town, in different positions on different Citi Bikes, but the same steely-eyed gaze staring back at you.


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Put On Your Helmet, Citi Bike Riders. There's a New Helmet-Sharing System for You.

Categories: Citi Bikes

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Photo Credit: drpavloff via Compfight cc
Citi Bikes are like any other bicycle: There's no special technology on them that might prevent riders from kissing pavement from time to time. Which is why bike rental service Bike and Roll NYC's new helmet share system seems so overdue. Smart and safe, a rarer combination than you might think.

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CitiBike Plans More Locations in Brooklyn Exactly Where You Would Expect

Categories: Citi Bikes

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Photo courtesy of NYC DOT
Planned Citi Bike stations are in gray.
Yesterday the city's department of transportation quietly added planned CitiBike stations to its bike share service map. Most of the new Citi Bikes are clustered in Williamsburg, where there were several planned to begin with.

If the city is trying to outrun the program's growing reputation for neglecting lower-income communities, it might consider a different strategy: Be less obvious about the how station locations are picked.

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Citi Bike Stations Moved From Wealthy Neighborhoods; Commence Class Warfare?

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Sam Levin
Another week, another Citi Bike dilemma. As the bike share program blows past the 250,000 rides mark, the placement of stations has become the subject of contention since its Memorial Day inauguration. The reasons are varied: The streets are too narrow to fit them; the streets are too packed with them; the streets are too ugly because of them. But, as it turns out, the physical response by the Department of Transportation has created a more income-based controversy.

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Bike Share Fever: Citi Bike Rides Pass the Quarter-Million Mark

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Sam Levin
700,000 miles. That's the lengthy equivalent of about 280,000 Central Parks. Or a little more than 50,000 Manhattans from the bottom up. It's also the amount of miles CitiBike users--who have now clocked in over 250,000 rides--have covered in three weeks' time.

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A Look at How Citi Bikes Will Affect Local Bike Shops

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Sam Levin
Unless you've been wasting away inside the past week and a half, snuggling with your A/C and bingeing on the new season of Arrested Development, you've seen the lines and lines of metallic blue Citi Bikes stationed across New York City, begging, as the slogan goes, you to hop on and "explore your city." With point-counterpoints and usage mounting, the rollout of the program has become a metropolitan talking point. Except little room has been left to discuss the battle between bike share and bike shop.

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Citi Bike Happened Yesterday, and the World Did Not End

Categories: Citi Bikes

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Frankenstein via Compfight cc
Setting out on a sunny, 72-degree day, Citi Bike's first users hopped on their loud blue frames at 11 a.m. on Monday and took off. On its first day, the much-debated program tracked some 6,050 trips at an average of 20 minutes per--and added some 772 new annual members to more than 15,000 existing memberships.

We have no mass chaos, confusion, or bloodshed to report. But we did check in with two people who were able to try it out--a devoted cyclist who's been riding in the city for the past 15 years, and a newbie who took his first city ride on Monday. Below, find quick first-day bikeshare takeaways from Doug Gordon, a documentary writer/producer and founder of blog Brooklyn Spoke, and Jay Denson, a Bronx native who made this how-to video for beginner bikeshare users after his first city ride.


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It's Confirmed: NYC's Bike Share Program Will Start On Memorial Day

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Sam Levin
We remember when it was supposed to be July 2012. Then we heard maybe it'd be March 2013. That didn't happen. Then the Department of Transportation released a map of where the 293 stations would be built. And we heard it would be some time in May. So we were kinda/sorta convinced: New York City's bike share program - the largest of its kind - would become a reality in our lifetime.

Now, we have ourselves an official release date: Memorial Day.

We checked our calendars: that's only three weeks from now. The three-day weekend just got that much more cherish-able.

On that day, thousands of CitiBikes will be rolled out onto the streets, occupying the empty stations that have already been spotted all over Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. And it looks like the Tourists Gone Wild criticism isn't stopping anyone: according to a DOT press release yesterday, eight thousand people have already signed up to flex their pedals come Memorial Day. Good luck getting to the barbecue.

But, seriously, the bike share program is real now. Ride accordingly.

[jsurico15@gmail.com][@JohnSurico]

On the Eve of Citibike, Remembering the City's Ghost Bikers

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Sydney Brownstone
Ghost bike memorial riders in Queens Plaza.
It's a bright, cool Sunday afternoon, and jammed car lines are radiating from Queens Plaza. The N, Q, and 7 trains rattle above intersections. But on the corner of Jackson Avenue and Queens Boulevard, several dozen cyclists have stopped to place flowers in the spokes of a bicycle that's been spray-painted white. The cyclists ignore the terse horn honks; the sign they install on top of the bike is a dedication to cyclists whose deaths didn't make the news.

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