The designs for New York City’s highly anticipated bike share program were revealed today, and they’re a striking shade of big banking blue. Citibank is footing a $41 million bill for the program, but it seems like the price is a fleet of mobile citizen advertisers. As Gothamist pointed out, individual rides are actually not all that cheap at all, and the burden of the voyage seems especially heavy if you have to ride around with “Citibike” plastered all over your frame and handlebars. But it gets worse, you know, considering the fact that Citibank is one of the main financial brokers of the coal industry. Fuck, really? Yes.
We’ve got a couple of problems with this.
1) Of course, the most deeply ironic (and deeply disturbing) part of Mayor Bloomberg’s environmentally-friendly bike share vision is that Citibank is one of the primary financiers of climate-wrecking coal production. Despite a statement announcing the group’s commitment to investment in alternative energy solutions, Citibank still brokered 40 transactions in the coal sector between January of 2010 and March of 2012, and continues to participate in the process behind mountaintop removal. A report published nearly a week ago by the Sierra Club and Rainforest Action Network highlights Citibank as one of the nation’s top “dirty” five financial backers of coal. Riding a bike with a Citibank logo doesn’t seem too different from wearing a nicotine patch emblazoned with an image of a grinning Marlboro Man.
2) “We are getting an entirely new transportation network without spending any taxpayer money,” Mayor Bloomberg said at the Citibike press conference today. Erm, try again. Do you guys remember that thing that happened at the peak of the financial crisis in 2008, when Citigroup received more than $45 billion as part of a federal aid buyout? In 2010, Citigroup’s chief executive Vikram Pandit thanked American taxpayers for the funding that “built a bridge over the crisis to a sound footing on the other side.” “Citi owes a large debt of gratitude to American taxpayers,” he also told the congressional panel that handled the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
Seriously, you guys? You’re really doing this? Really?
Follow Sydney Brownstone on Twitter @sydbrownstone.