Human vs. Citi Bike: New York's Secret Struggle


Every evening, around 6:30 or 7:00, I look out my window near the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Henry Street in Brooklyn and watch as people riding Citi Bikes approach the end of their commutes. One after another, I see them slow down, disembark, and prepare to deposit their bikes in the Citi rack that sits directly in front of my building.

Some of these people get lucky, parking their bikes within seconds and heading happily toward home. Others—those who stayed late at work, perhaps, and thus arrived on the wrong side of the evening rush—encounter devastating disappointment, as they realize that the one or two open slots on the rack are only open because they’re hopelessly broken.

Most people who find themselves in this situation spend some time trying really hard to make the slots work. They shove their bikes into them as forcefully as they can, hoping with every thrust that the mechanism will lock like it’s supposed to. But in the end, everybody gives up and rides sadly away.

I guess I could have written a helpful sign or something, to save these poor stranded people from their abject frustration. Instead, I spent a month filming them from my window, watching silently as they banged their bikes against the unwelcoming clasps; their heads against the brick wall of life. The resulting video, edited by New York Magazine videographer Abraham Riesman, is a document of crushing defeat and a glimpse into the general futility of existence. Enjoy!

Leon Neyfakh tweets here.