Thursday, June 04, 2009

Boulder to implement bike-share program?

From the "wow, what a dumb idea" department: the city of Boulder is applying for grant money to run a $1 million bikeshare scheme.

So why would I say this is stupid? Well, it's pretty simple, really.

If we assume that a halfway decent town bike costs, say, $250 (that's assuming you buy them in bulk - and yes, you can even get a mostly American-made bike for that price), you could just buy 4000 bikes and give them to anyone who wanted one. Or buy 2000 bikes and pay someone $50k a year to run a little bike stand and help owners maintain them for the next DECADE. Even if you pay extra for really nice stuff, and spend, say $1000 per bike (and use as much domestically manufactured stuff as you can) you can still buy 1000 bikes, or 500 bikes and a lot of money for maintenance. Heck, you could even just rent the bikes for a nominal fee and charge people if they were returned damaged - there are so many better ways to do something like this.

You could even throw in some tight jeans and ironic t-shirts to keep up with the fixie trend. Though you might blow through money pretty quickly doing that. The blue aerospoke wheels are probably a necessary expense, though.

I'm pretty sure there aren't even close to 1000 people in Boulder who both want to ride a bike and don't have one/can't afford one. If you have any motivation at all to ride, you probably *already have* a bike. If not, a quick trip to a bike shop, or a garage sale, or the Sports Recycler (used sporting goods place here in Boulder) is pretty easy, and it's not that hard to end up with a decent used bike for <$100. I tend to think that folks who can't overcome the limited obstacles involved in acquiring a bike are unlikely to actually ride to work on one.

It's also worth mentioning that you can get a bike for *free* from Community Cycles just by volunteering there for a day or two. And they'll even teach you how to fix it up. Why not just hand them some money for decent tools and replacement parts, help them expand their reach in the community, and call it good?

I ran a "yellow bike" program in college, and it was a lot of fun, but in the end, it was basically a waste of time. If people don't feel that they have an ownership stake in something, they treat it like crap most of the time. I predict that this program will be a huge waste of money, assuming that the grant application succeeds.

1 comment:

Corey said...

I really like community cycles and would have been neat to see them get a nice grant to expand what they already do.

Doesn't Seattle have a plan like this?