Monday, August 11, 2008

Bike Share?

Here's an interesting story reporting on the concept of Bike Sharing. Storage and transport convenience have long been the negative issues facing bicycle commuting efforts around the globe, and the concepts in this article are championed in places like DC, Denver, the Pacific NW and Europe. It's kind of a neat idea, but to me its got some very obvious short comings as well. First, I want to ride MY bike. Second, why not just provide for more bicycle friendly transportation corridors to promote cycling as a true transportation alternative. Finally...and here's the real kicker...if we as planners and as a society promote and demand more compact development, the idea that the commuter would ride a train or car-pool or hitch the bus 3/4s of the way to their destination, and then borrow a bike from a bike-share program to finish their commute wouldn't be necessary. Wouldn't it be nice to just walk a few blocks or maybe ride 2-3 miles to work and ditch the bus altogether? (obviously ADA needs would still be met by some direct transport transit services) Why do I need to borrow a bicycle? The whole program seems to be a feel good band-aid for general wastefulness and bad planning and I think it's a bust. Generally, unless you have a tremendous influx of persons related to seasonal tourism, like Paris (mentioned in the article as having 20,000 bikes in their program), I wonder as to the effectiveness of the program on the daily user-commuter.

Don't get me wrong...we obviously can't just tear down 50 years of sloppy land development pattern and return to more traditional neighborhood/live-work-shop relationships with the wave of a hand. Still, we can at least PUSH for that return harder than we are, and relegate these feel good approaches to the back-burner recognizing that they aren't full solutions to sprawl...just means to make the sprawl less awful.

Bike Share as treatment for bad land planning practice is like taking Senekot to make constipation less're still stuck with a heck of a lot of crap and discomfort and the causes of the condition aren't necessarily addressed, jut temporarily relieved.

I sound a little more pessimistic about the program than I really am. There are certainly communities where the plan has big benefits, but North Florida aint one of them right now for sure. Maybe I'm just jealous?

Don't get me wrong...I'm not a total poopoo'er of the program, just of the practices that have put us in this situation where we need the program in the first place. I mean there going to be a Bike Share rack at my local Whataburger?,9171,1813972,00.html


Steve said...

Did you really mention Senokot in a piece about bike sharing? (And then say you're "not a poo-pooer"?) :)

I think bike sharing is great for people who only need a bike occasionally, whether they're tourists or just periodic bikers. I would use a borrowed bike if I wanted to ride somewhere.

But you're certainly right that it's not really a solution to sprawl. It just makes it slightly less poisonous.

Utahdog! said...

I dig it as an idea too, just with the BIG caveat thatit makes much more sense in locations heavy on tourism. Humans don't commute well when their are questions regarding "if there's capacity". In other words, nobody will factor in the bike share plan to their daily grind unless they are guaranteed a bike to be there when they need it. As for you being a user on occaision, I'd call that tourism, even with you being local. You check out a bike and ride all over the island snapping street art pics, you are touring, no different really than the guy flying in from Lubbock or Hamburg doing the same thing. I would think New York would be a Bike Share city candidate...if you don't already have one.

There's always 'room' for a Senekot joke.

Steve said...

That's true -- I would be a tourist under that definition. (I guess essentially anyone who didn't need a bike regularly would be touring, more or less.)

I don't know whether we have bike share or not.

There is never room for a Senokot joke. :)

Utahdog! said...

I have a life is one big dose of Senokot after another!


edward said...

when i was in amsterdam they had public bikes everywhere. people used them to commute to their jobs daily.

Utahdog! said...

You've got me motivated to see if I can get some ridership statistics from a few euro-cities which have the bike share program...I'll try Amsterdam too.