Bike Nazi Endorses Bieter Bikes

Guest Opinion by
GUARDIAN bike Nazi

A bike share – just like in the Big City! – is on the horizon, here in li’l ol’ Boise! The honchos are predicting that by the end of April, 114 shareable bikes will be available at 15 stations, scattered around the city center, north end, and BSU area.
According to the website you download the app (very 21st-century!) and reserve a bike. The pay-as-you-go plan is $4/hour. Or a membership can be purchased for a month or a year, which includes one hour per day of bike use. There is also an additional $2 “out of hub” fee if you stray out of the approved zone. (How did they come up with the hub? Who knows? Perhaps they asked Mayor Bieter where he likes to ride…or the legislature will rule outside the hub like they do with Uber).

Old-timers will remember a “yellow bike” scheme from a few years back. Cheap bikes were painted pale yellow and dropped on city streets for free use by whoever came along. Nobody should’ve been surprised when the bikes evaporated or ended up trashed and abandoned. By contrast, the new Green bikes will be maintained… and the registered borrower will be responsible for safekeeping. You can’t just ride to your destination, lean the bike against a tree or a parking meter, and walk away.

The bikes look a little on the “klunky” size – cruiser-style bikes with fat tires, baskets, adjustable seats, etc. They have a GPS locator, just in case one wanders off the range. One interesting feature – they have a drive shaft instead of a chain. They should be low-maintenance and well-suited for putting around in the downtown/hub area.

Will it succeed?

Bike-shares have been wildly successful in big cities like Boston and New York. In those cities, with dense populations and heavy tourism, bicycle ownership is a luxury. By contrast, Boise is a sprawling suburbia where most residents live away from downtown and can easily own a fleet of bikes and a place to store ’em.

The membership and rental fees will not cover the costs. Our bankrupt federal government wrote the check for the startup costs, and sponsors will kick in for the ongoing operational costs. Good neighbor St. Lukes is sponsoring it. (Perhaps I’m just being cynical, but are they trying to buy some “good will” from area bike riders, to help them with their grandiose plans to rearrange their neighborhood?) I expect that taxpayers will also help foot the bill going forward, but it’s hard to say what the level of commitment ($) will be.

I saw the spokesman on TV – he was saying the “app” will keep track of how many miles you ride, how many dollars you saved on gas, how much atmospheric carbon your smart transportation choice prevented, etc. Life is good! (Obviously those numbers are only meaningful if the GreenBike is replacing some other form of transportation. If you’re driving downtown to ride a GreenBike, and then driving home again afterwards, you’ll end up spewing more deadly carbon than if you’d just stayed home.)

I personally hope that a year from now we can look back and declare it an unqualified success! But I’m also happy that they have the good judgment to start off modestly.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Gene Fadness
    Apr 16, 2015, 6:01 pm

    “Bike Nazi” really? I look forward to the day when we quit using this horrible word for anything but reference to the actual Nazis. It’s grotesquely offensive, especially to the Jewish people in our community, and intellectually lazy. You’re smarter, more compassionate and a better writer than that Dave.

    EDITOR NOTE–We didn’t coin the term and we certainly have no intention of converting you Gene. However, here are a couple of sites which will offer some edification:
    First– the long standing website for perhaps the most reasonable advocate of two-wheel personal transport in the entire state of Idaho. He is the self-proclaimed Bike Nazi and one in the same “BIKE BOY.”

    Visit his site and you will see why he is a welcome contributor to the GUARDIAN.

    Over the past 10 years, this self announced member of the LDS church has advocated free speech, civility, safe biking, common sense, compassion, religious tolerance and about every other attribute one could seek in a husband, father, and friend.

    I am not “back peddling” here, but since you played the “religion card,” our use of Nazi is no different than “drug Czar” or perhaps a “come to Jesus meeting,” or even a “(fishing, football, or sports) god.” “Our old Ford went to car heaven” is not a slam at Christianity. All those terms are figures of speech.

  2. Fat tire bikes are typically a goathead magnet. Hope they’ve got armored tires… I was curious about the shaft drive, the mfgs say they are only about 5% less efficient than a perfectly maintained conventional chain drive. There might be a new bike in my future, chains are so yesterday. Wondering if these rent a bikes are tied to the new hotel buildout, hoping they will be used by the gazillions of conventioneers swarming to Boise Idaho.

  3. Bikeboy, Better have the BG write your obituary as his description of you is very flattering as well as true.

    Gene, Bikeboy(bikenazi) is a great guy that means no harm with his internet persona. Go visit his blog and read the bookmarked post.

    I hope that Boise GreenBike is successful. This program is just one of the many puzzle pieces into making Boise a better place for bikes. Boise is a great bicycling city and has the potential to become the bicycle capitol of America. Stay tuned for the Boise Bicycle Project’s plans for May 7. #carfree4BBP

    EDITOR NOTE–While I wish neither BikeBoy or Clancy an early demise, I could easily put them both in the same category. Clancy too is a great advocate of our fair city and serves as an “accuracy copper,” keeping the GUARDIAN facts in line.

  4. Grumpy ole Guy
    Apr 16, 2015, 10:44 pm

    I must say I am surprised by Gene’s exception to the use of “Nazi” in this context. As one who is somewhat proud of the appellation of himself as a “grammar nazi” I may speak from a prejudiced position. However in current parlance I think that use of the word “Nazi” as a modifier is generally accepted by most and not typically intended to offend. Just as political foes so often refer to their opponent as Fascist or Communists I think that most of us realize that those terms are not intended to be “exactly accurate”; but as warning of a drift out of the main-stream.

  5. $4 per hour seems pricey to me. I can walk from the garage to lunch for free. That said, I go there so seldom that my opinion is of little value.

  6. I grow weary of government subsidizing their version of a good idea. My definition of a good idea is something that has enough value it is self-supporting through use fees and/or private donations.

    I like to bike, therefore I bought a bike. You can buy a bike for $50 at a box store, which only gets you about 15 hours of bike rental.

    Bikes for tourists downtown is a good idea, so charge whatever is needed to at least break even less any private sponsorship.

  7. Off-topic: I occasionally regret the “Bike Nazi” moniker, but only when people read something “political” into it that’s not intended. (I was inspired by the “Soup Nazi.” People who watched “Seinfeld” would understand that… and that’s not everybody.) I’m sincerely appreciative to both Dave and Clancy, who know me, for their kind words! (Good friends and family are my most treasured blessings.)

    I’m a “Nazi” only in the sense that I tirelessly advocate in favor of transportation cycling. After 30 years of it, right here in Boise, I believe in it with almost a religious fervor. (But, as enthusiastic motorcycle riders say, “If I have to explain it, maybe you wouldn’t understand.”)

    On-topic: I wouldn’t characterize my column as an ENDORSEMENT of the bike-share. I’m trying to objectively look at it and explain the up-side and down-side. BUT – I do hope it succeeds! Statistically, the more cyclists, the safer cycling becomes, because motorists grow accustomed to seeing them and sharing the pavement with them.

    (I was skeptical about the branch libraries, and they’ve been a resounding success.)

  8. JJ, I’d like to know what your favorite example of a self supporting transportation system is. Last I checked there aren’t many. For example, the car&truck+road system is very far from self sufficient, requiring non-user fees (usually general fund or property taxes) at the local, state, and federal levels. Same for airplane traffic. At the same time, there is no denying the incredible benefits of a robust road system, enabling all sorts of commerce, travel, recreation, as well as endless other benefits. Would a robust road network, like Boise has, been considered if it was required to be self-sustaining?

    EDITOR NOTE–It appears JJ was commenting on the “green bike” program. He favored $50 bikes over a government rental scheme. Sort of like being OK with roads and rails, but let the users pay for their own cars and trains.

  9. I was on the board of the Yellow Bike project. It died for lack of demand, not for the quality of the bikes. Though it was 15+ years ago, I’m dubious that this new project can work confined to only downtown (Bike Nazi points out that you pretty much have to drive downtown to rent a bike… which is rather pointless). Time will tell.

  10. I can’t think of but a handful of activities more dangerous than riding a bike in a downtown area.

    This is just a gimmick to get a green-article written about Boise in some yuppie magazine, and a way to keep the grant money flowing.

  11. Gene Fadness
    Apr 19, 2015, 4:32 pm

    Interesting comments. And you’re right, Dave, you didn’t convert me and never will. I don’t care how many reference you find to that horrible term. I wasn’t the perfect son, but I always try to remember one important lesson my mother taught me: “Just because everyone’s doing it …” You know the rest.

  12. Thanks for the writing Bikeboy.

    I just want to know, who will be the defendant in the first personal injury lawsuit stemming from the Bikeshare program?

    City of Boise? St Lukes? Valley Ride? Social Bicycles? Or all the above?

    Some attorney is going to win big on this deal!
    Seems like a good pair of sneakers would be a better deal than trying to find the nearest bikeshare. No app required. 🙂

  13. It is a good point that no transit system is self supporting from the user fees, but I think there is more to consider:

    Automobile users pay anywhere from 50-60% of the cost to build and maintain roads, depending on the study you believe. Roads were built by the government to facilitate commerce, open up new areas for development, and our daily commute to work, all things the government taxes us dearly for. If we were to apply some of the secondary benefit the government gets from roads (freight taxes, increased property taxes when roads connect rural areas and development occurs, etc) then the road program might be pretty close to self supporting.

    I fail to see in this green bike program how it helps commerce, helps people get to work or facilitates taxable new development. It is an amusement or service for recreation or tourism for people who are already downtown, and should therefore be self supporting in my opinion, or subsidized by GBAD or DBA, agencies with their own funding sources who are interested in tourism and downtown vibrancy.

    But to the broader point which was more of a philosophical argument, that if something is of value to the general population, that same population will organically find a way to fund that item. Here are some examples or experiments I would like to see:

    Triple the bus pass cost so buses are self-supporting but they would still be less than half the total cost of ownership of a car. See if the bus system survives.

    Stop subsidizing PBS and NPR and like every other TV or Radio station they can sell advertising or close their doors.

    Stop funding art from the NEA, and let the community support the artists they choose to, by buying art or the attendance of performances. Artists that are good will survive, artists which are not can get other jobs.

    Eliminate tax exemptions for non-profits including churches and see how many close their doors.

    It is a matter of efficiency. When the consumer is aware of and burdened with the total cost of their decision, they will make better decisions, but we end up taxed to death, because the true cost of every “good” idea or politicians pet project is buried in multiple and ambiguous funding sources, which for the most part always end up as taxes.

  14. I would like to mention BikeBoy’s reference as “wildly successful” may be a bit of an overstatement.
    DC’s first bikeshare program went belly up and is now on version 2.0. Along with others, including NYC’s there have been many problems.
    And keep in mind, those few “successful” program’s are still in their infancy. That’s like saying your two-year-old is a successful college football quarterback.

    Or this all might be like the next new, “successful” restaurant in town- it’s just a matter of time before they close their doors.
    Success will be 10 years from now.
    I don’t think any bikeshare program has been around that long in the U.S. (if anywhere).
    Fad or sustainable?

    I don’t understand why a potential resident user wouldn’t already have their own bike at whatever local they might be using a bikeshare. So does it depend on tourists? In January?

    good luck bikeshare!

  15. Goat Heads and flat tires will surely impact the success or failure of this effort. Also, under inflated tires and other maintenance will kill the project.

  16. I have a set of bike tires with thousands of goat heads in them… never been flat. It’s a $45-$55 per tire however.

    Here’s an interesting article:

  17. Great article Zippo. Here is another on Hans Monderman on why street signs often make traffic more dangerous and allow cars to greatly degrade quality of life by turning people into idiots, by treating them like idiots.

  18. The problem of goatheads can be solved by passing a city ordinance outlawing them. It is very difficult however when one of the problems with rubber tires is the transfer of seeds to areas where they have not been propagated. An inspection and de-goatheading system should be implemented as soon as possible. A Port-of-Entry near city hall or in the new bus terminal would be a central location

  19. Chicago.. you forgot a yearly fee for a sticker to help defray the enforcement activities for pedal-powered vehicles. And we need to write the regulations in sufficient detail to ensure that tricycles not driven out of the culdesac are also included in the system.

  20. Godwin’s Law just got reversed.'s_law

  21. #CarfreeforBBP on May 7th

    I have taken the challenge and challenged others. I encourage all of you to take the challenge and be weird. Learn more at

  22. I thought the article was about “Bieters Bikes”, not Nazi anything.

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