NEW YORK — A recent New York Times exposé revealed that more and more New Yorkers are giving the nation’s largest bike sharing program a shot–often after drinking shots. While drunk riding is not illegal per se, it is a dangerous violation of Citi Bike’s user agreement. Still, the practice has made the bikes exceedingly popular, forcing the NYC Department of Transportation and Citibank to hash out a compromise.
Starting September 15, the program’s operator, NYC Bike Share, will temporarily decommission about 100 bicycles per week on a rolling basis, in order to retrofit them with bottle openers, cup holders, and—as a concession to public health—breathalyzers.
With more than 25,000 riders daily, the program affords bar hoppers an inexpensive way to venture farther and get some exercise along the way. According to one of the 164,500 users to ride between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. this past month, “I do feel a sense of accomplishment when I Citi Bike to a place and I’ll be like, ‘I’ll have a Bud Heavy today instead of a Bud Light.'”
Now riders will be able to take their Bud to go, so long as their blood alcohol level does not exceed 0.08 percent. The retrofitting process has generated a buzz in the biking community, which is now pressuring the city to paint wavy bike lanes along major thoroughfares. Predictably, some residents in wealthier neighborhoods are calling the proposal an inevitable eyesore.
“Naysayers just need to look at the plan through beer goggles at 2 a.m.,” said Janette Sadik-Kah, commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation. “I promise,” she added, “It all makes sense after three or four Long Islands.”