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OpinionColumnistsMark Chiusano

It’s a dark world, but at least (some) Citi Bikes will have baskets

Sometimes good news is hard to come by.

Sometimes good news is hard to come by. But here's one thing to be excited about: Five out of 12,000 Citi Bikes now have carrying baskets. Photo Credit: amNY / Mark Chiusano

It’s time for some good news in this city, and the news is this: Citi Bike has started testing bikes with baskets.

Every Citi Bike user has surely had the experience of unsuccesfully stuffing a bag of groceries into the inferior storage space on the bike handlebars. Trying to wrestle that little strap over it all. You can’t even call that cell-phone-deep slot a bin. No one in the history of Citi Bike has figured out a good way to fit more than a purse or murse up front there. There are adrenaline junkies who squeeze their tiny toddlers in, but that’s just oddball behavior.

But folks, your Citi Bike basket world is about to be rocked. The bike-share company is testing legitimate storage space above the front wheel, so that you might at least fit your gym bag or a normal-sized child.

Before you get too excited, this is a very small test. At the end of 2017 the company equipped one (uno, un, eins, echad) bike with the test basket. At the beginning of this year they added four more to freely roam a system of 12,000. So there are now five beautiful basket-ready bicycles making their way around the city, like top-heavy unicorns just waiting to be undocked.

But we’ll take our limited good news where we can find it in this era. It’s hard to be too hopeful when headlines are dominated by crimes against humanity in Syria, and President Donald Trump tweet-warning Russia that missiles “will be coming.”

The president is also flipping a coin about whether to fire special counsel Robert Mueller as FBI agents turn over his lawyer’s hotel room in NYC.

So let’s take a moment to appreciate the simple pleasures of the Citi Bike basket, which could at least help riders weave through traffic without plastic bags hanging from either handlebar.

The people are yearning for the baskets. Just ask Sophia Lee, 27, of Manhattan, who says she usually brings her boyfriend to help with the grocery portage from Trader Joe’s, two mini-baskets being necessary for their Citi Bike commute back home.

Or Brooklynite Kenneth Ho who was looking for a good place to stash an iced coffee while riding on Wednesday. Bring on the basket.

Ho, 27, added another reason that the people are yearning for some good news in the haystack of bad: He rides Citi Bike because it’s “kind of hard to trust the MTA these days.” The system, as most riders know, has recently gone to hell in a handbasket.

This being New York, there are some enterprising souls who saw what riders wanted and attempted to answer them, even before Citi Bike did. People like Alan Meckler, a 70-year-old technology entrepreneur who also dabbles in the fields of 3-D printing and cryptocurrency. But a few years ago, “I saw the flaw,” with Citi Bike, Meckler says. So last year he started selling a clip-on basket that indulges your lugging fantasies on any old Citi Bike. Meckler says he’s given away about 350 and sold a similar number. You can order online for $49.95.

Or you can wait for Citi Bike to, hopefully, add free baskets to more than a handful of chariots. (A preliminary pox, by the way, upon the first person who puts trash in the new containers.) For now, perhaps your day will be brightened by the lucky appearance of one of the Faithful Five somewhere in this vast metropolis around which Citi Bike is slowly spreading, and maybe that luck will help you forget for a moment all the bad news in this world — the chaotic national politics, the woes and dangers of a remorseful social media giant, plus the usual nagging travesties of poverty and sickness on the streets of New York.

For a few moments, at least, you’ll be able to set down your baggage. Lighten the load.

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