The most prominent city bike share in the country is the Citi Bike program in New York, which launched in mid-2013, an event that triggered great hope among bike activists as well as fear and loathing from the likes of the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal (seriously, if you want to see the elite troglodyte opinion at its worst, click on that link).
Riding a bike in New York City can be quite dangerous—mostly for the bicyclists themselves. That’s why Citi Bike took great care in imposing certain limits on the bikes’ capacity. They can’t accelerate to any great speed; they’re sturdy bikes that are ideal for a quick jaunt across town, but don’t expect to break any world records on one.
For some folks, though, it wasn’t enough to have inexpensive bicycles available over much of the terrain of Manhattan and Brooklyn—some kind of hack was required. Enter the ShareRoller, a Kickstarter project that’s just stupid enough to get funded. The ShareRoller is a little device, invented by one Jeff Guida, that you can attach to the front of a Citi Bike (or the equivalent bike in many American cities, including San Francisco, Boston, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C., all of which use the same model) that will let you surpass the 20-mph barrier with ease. The motor is “a briefcase-like machine,” proof positive that the primary demographic here is commuters and office workers.
Guida’s looking to make $100,000 so he can develop his ShareRoller prototype, after which lucky investors will have the honor of paying $1,195 to buy one of the new devices. Honestly, at that price couldn’t you just get an electric motorbike of your own? (It’s relevant here that electric bicycles are banned in New York City; Guida thinks that the ShareRoller would constitute a workaround for that law, but don’t get your hopes up.)
For the record, I’ve used the Citi Bike system before, and I think it’s a great project. I don’t think New York needs a lot of office workers toddling around on ShareRoller-powered Citi Bikes, however.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
At long last, the invisible bike helmet is here
Under the Smogberry Trees: Dr. Demento Documentary on Kickstarter