Hipstomp recently picked up on Bike Fixtation's bicycle vending machine, suggesting that these machines would be welcome in "cities that still have a bike messenger presence."
The machine in March 2010; Colin Moynihan for The New York Times
It turns out that he's right: New York City has a bike vending machine of it's own, at Brooklyn's Times Up! Bike Co-Op at 99 S 6th St, conveniently located near the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge.
Fast forward to July 2010... via bitchcakes' Flickr
It ain't as pretty as the fire engine (or is that Coca-Cola?) red BF version—the New York Times opts for choice adjectives "squat black"—but it's got all of the necessary goods and more: sunglasses, t-shirts, a Blackberry (see video after the jump)... all of which may come in handy while you're cruising around the 'burg.
It's not clear whether the vending machine is run by Time's Up! or, as the Times reports, Baruch Herzfeld of Traif Bike Gesheft, or they're actually one in the same... but either way, it is, as per Hipstomp's intuition, welcome in the neighborhood. I, for one, have made good use of the 24-hour hand-pump (though other tools aren't free to use—you'll have to buy them from the machine).
TIME'S UP! is a grassroots environmental group that uses educational outreach and direct action to promote a more sustainable, less toxic city. For more than 20 years, TIME'S UP! has worked to educate people about the environmental impacts of everyday decisions, from the food we buy to the means of transportation we use.
Still, it's worth mentioning that last time I was there back in June, the Time's Up! vending machine was out of order. It was late, I'd gotten a flat on the bridge and busted my spare tube as well, so the 24-hour vending machine had been my last hope... but in a remarkably felicitous turn of events, I was able to buy a spare tube from a messenger happened to be hanging out on the stoop (Thanks Gus!).
Long story short, it might be worth stopping by even when the machine is out of order... worst case, you can drown your bike-related sorrows at any of the nearby bars.
These, for the most part, look like re-purposed sandwich or soda vending machines, and, as commenter pauliesatx points out, "maybe the purchaser isn't mechanically inclined and still has to find a person to assemble/install the product/s."