By STEVE “BIKEBOY” HULME
A year or so ago, Mayor Bieter, an eternal proponent of alternative transportation whether it be a trolley, or valley-wide rail service, or bicycles, proposed a bike-sharing program, just like in the Big City.
The Boise proposal is for 140 bikes at 14 stations, primarily around downtown but extending to the BSU Campus and of course the North End. The startup cost was an estimated $650,000.
As much as I love bicycle transportation (it’s been my primary mode of local transport for 27+ years now), I’m skeptical. Partly because I don’t believe our demographics are anything like those of Boston or San Francisco or Seattle. And partly because the startup cost of $4600 per bike! seems excessive and would mostly be funded by the ever-deep-pockets taxpayers. I’ve BLOGGED about it in the past.
I happened across an article about the new bike-share in beautiful Orange County, California, that seems to reinforce my skepticism. “Bike Nation” just opened three kiosks for their bike share. In the first 28 days, 30 people have rented bikes. The manager of the project attributes the low participation to bad weather. (Five of those 28 days were rainy. Bad weather? Yeah, right!) He says, “A lot of people are really interested in the system,” and expects business to pick right up, once the weather gets nice. The story can be seen HERE.
I wish him luck! Unlike the proposed Boise bike share, the city didn’t give any money to Bike Nation. Perhaps it’s a private project. (More likely, he probably got some grant money from the feds, or a state government.)
I’d gladly support any such project that’s funded by the actual users… or by corporate sponsors in exchange for advertising space, like the NYC program that will soon be underway. Last I heard, the government is broke and getting further broke by billions a day. Now is not the time to start new taxpayer-funded enterprises, no matter how much they sparkle.
“Bike Boy” is a frequent commenter and sometimes contributor to the GUARDIAN.
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