Friday, September 30, 2011

Bike Share?

I am somewhat perplexed about this whole Bike Share Program NYC is getting involved with.  I found it mildly disturbing at first and the more I learn, the less I like it.  It strikes me as a waste of city money, but then I learned that it is really just a lease arrangement with a private company--Alta Bike Share to be exact.  What bothers me most at first is that a bike is not like Zip Car.  Bicycles are pretty inexpensive items and they are somewhat personalized as well.  Bikes vary considerably more among cyclists than motorists with many serious cyclists preferring performance vehicles, so why would they use a generic bike?  It's fine for tourists, but outside of that I don't see the point.  Furthermore, the average tourist probably shouldn't be taking too many chances in city traffic anyway.  If a person is really a serious cyclist, then they aren't going to ditch their bike for what is essentially a rental.  A driver who gets any real use out of a car wouldn't do it either.  What's really afoot here?

The plan is to put in 10,000 bikes at these bike share locations throughout the city.  That's a lot of bicycles!  I see a serious problem.  I see a competition, even a potential conflict of interest for the city because now who will the city's policy favor: individual cyclists or this new company?  Will the city make private bicycle parking anywhere in the vicinity of these stations difficult for it's resident-cyclists?  Considering the space shortage and the hard sell that these bike share stations will be, I don't anticipate the city allowing private bike parking anywhere near these things.  I think that automatically happens whether the city tries or not, and you know the company will ask the city to do so.  Furthermore, the city already has rules prohibiting the use of public property as bike racks and occasionally the police make the rounds, clip the locks and take the bikes to the precinct. The rules are mildly enforced now, but if they got serious about it it would be parking hell!  The DOT website states that membership costs would be low: less than the cost of a monthly Metrocard, but if I wanted to pay for a Metrocard why would I ride my bike?  Duh! 

I really don't think this is innocent at all.  It is the commercialization of bicycle commuting, which is one of the freest and most independent things there is!  I am definitely NOT doing bike share simply out of principle.  This will simply produce bicycle fatigue among city residents and be bad for cycling in the long term.  I might have to look into skateboards or longboards that are becoming the new trend--hey, gotta stay ahead of the posse!