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Will New York really ban fat riders from its bike-share program?
The weight limit would appear to defeat Michael Bloomberg's attempt to encourage healthy living
 
New York's Citi Bike share program: Only for the thin and fit?
New York's Citi Bike share program: Only for the thin and fit? Facebook.com/CitiBikeNY

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made public health a central aspect of his ambitious citywide initiatives, which include banning trans fats, seeking to outlaw large sodas, and laying down miles of new bikes lanes.

In his latest effort, the city will soon roll out a new bike-share program that will allow anyone to rent a bike — so long as they don't weigh too much. 

As the New York Post noted Thursday in typical New York Post fashion, prospective cyclists must first sign a contract that specifically bars anyone over a certain weight limit from enrolling.

From the Post:

Can obese cyclists sign up for the city’s new bike-share program? Fat chance!

It is "prohibited" for any rider who weighs more than 260 pounds to sign up for the soon-to-launch initiative — prompting backlash from riders who say the fat-shaming rule is enough to make them fly off the handle. [New York Post]

Understandably, that prompted some head-scratching from the Post and others. The program is partly intended to promote healthy lifestyles, and banning overweight riders — and possibly tall and muscle-bound riders as well — seems to defeat the purpose.

"That’s bogus. 260 pounds isn't going to break the bike," one woman told the Post. "To me, that's discrimination. And I'm not easily offended!"

The city contends the weight limit is hardly a form of discrimination, but rather a safety measure to ensure the bikes don't crumple and spill riders into the street. Bike share programs in other cities feature similar weight limits, with both Boston and Washington, D.C., capping riders' weight at 260 pounds.

"These technical specs are established by the equipment manufacturer and are the same as other bike share cities around the world and standard on commercially available bikes and components," Department of Transportation spokesperson, Seth Solomonow, told Gothamist. "We expect people will use the bikes safely."

And structural integrity of the frames aside, the city won't be cracking down on hefty riders. As the DOT's policy director told the Post, the department would have a tough time enforcing the policy even if it wanted to, saying, "I think people will be self-selecting, practical and safe."

So while a weight limit technically exists, the city won't necessarily be kicking overweight riders to the curb this summer.

 
Jon Terbush is an associate editor at TheWeek.com covering politics, sports, and other things he finds interesting. He has previously written for Talking Points Memo, Raw Story, and Business Insider.

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