When Alexandra Dill, a 22-year-old New York University student decided last year to buy a bicycle to save money on transportation, she turned to Craig’s List. In sifting through ads, the words that instantly caught her eye were “sparkly bike for sale.” No photo was included in the post, but she was intrigued.
A few days later, Dill rode the subway to Java Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to negotiate the purchase of a bicycle whose owner had bedazzled the entire frame and fork with colorful glass jewels. She had also given her bike a name: Sparkle Pony.
The price, with a city lock thrown in: $60. After getting her new ride tuned up, Dill, a Wilmington, Delaware native who is studying for a master’s degree in creative writing and gender studies, emerged as a commuter on the first bike she had owned since childhood.
“She’s showing her roots,” Dill laughs, as a jewel falls to the pavement in Washington Square Park, revealing an underlying blob of dried glue. Dill says neighbors sometimes return jewels to her that they’ve found on her sidewalk or stoop. She also uses bits and pieces of her mom’s old costume jewelry to keep up with “shedding.”
Dill says gaining confidence in the bike lanes took time, but she cherishes the carefree feeling and independence of cycling around town while maintaining her commitment to the environment and saving a few dollars. (Pet peeve: Cars that park in the bike lanes.)
In the mean time, her bicycle has become a fixture on the downtown scene, recognized around campus and often photographed by passersby.
Dill says Sparkle Pony’s original owner didn’t share much about her impulse to decorate the bike, only that she was selling possessions to embark on a travel adventure. But one would think that, where ever she is, she would be happy to know that this rolling work of art is in the hands of a kindred creative spirit. Sparkle Pony rides again.