By Carla Zanoni
UPPER MANHATTAN — Making drivers stuck in Manhattan's traffic snarl-ups smile is a tall order, but Jonathan Aquino has the vehicle to do it.
The artist's seven-foot bicycle is entertaining street-goers in Washington Heights and Inwood.
“I see people who look sad who just start smiling when they see me — and it feels good,” said Aquino, 19.
“The purpose of this bike is to make people laugh, make them smile.”
The bike is one of three he and two friends made out of recycled materials as part of their business venture, MTDE (Make The Difference Entertainment). The company's mission is simply to make people smile.
Partners Xavier Feliz, 26, sketched the plan for the bike while Brian Espaillat, 22, welded the parts together. Aquino came up with the business platform.
The trio aims to sell custom bikes through internet orders and will soon be selling t-shirts with silkscreened photographs of Aquino riding the bike.
Far from being a new feature on uptown streets, Aquino and Feliz say they regularly speak to old-timers in the neighborhood who say similar bikes used to be ridden in the area during the '70s and '80s, and as far back as the early 1900s.