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View Diary: Cities of Bikes (72 comments)

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  •  Largely pointless (2+ / 0-)
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    Utahrd, gatorcog

    I know this all feels good, but it only works in places which already have public transportation systems, so it does almost nothing to relieve vehicle traffic.

    I'm a great fan of cycling, and I have even bike commute on occasion, but let's be realistic about bikes saving the world.

    The most successful program you mention is in Lyon, a city of half a million.  With 16000 trips per day, that's a maximum of 8000 users, probably less.  So you've got a tad over 1% using the system.  That's essentially the same as what the rate of bicycle commuting is already here in Silicon Valley.

    •  not that pointless (0+ / 0-)

      I'm a great fan of cycling, and I have even bike commute on occasion, but let's be realistic about bikes saving the world.

      fair enough, they won't save the world any time soon, still, in most metropolitan areas commute time goes down when changing from car to bike, and would reduce drastically if everyone rode. It is a good thing to keep in mind.

      Also, the 1% is just the people on the public system, I take it more people have bikes privately.

    •  Too many assumptions. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      First, there are several cities that would work great for bikes but don't have much in the way of public transportation--in fact, most smaller East Coast cities were designed in the horse-and-buggy days, so the downtown area is compact enough to make biking useful but widespread enough that buses don't work very well and subways are impractical. See, for example, New Haven and Hartford, CT, Providence, RI, Portland, ME...any of these is much easier to get around biking than anywhere in Silicon Valley (with the possible exception of San Francisco). A more appropriate statement would be that it works in places that already could have public transit--not every such city in the US does.

      Second, even in US cities with public transit, most transit systems shut down overnight, whereas the bikes need not--late night partiers weaving down the sidewalk on a bike will be dangerous, but less so than if they were driving.

      Third, the Lyon program was the first program, not the most successful. I'd think that the statistic on Paris--over 600,000 signed up for the program--shows that it is headed towards being far more successful.

      Fourth, the classic 'it hasn't happened there so it won't happen here' assumption: ok, say you're correct that only about 1% of Lyon is using the system daily. Say you're also correct that about 1% of Silicon Valley already uses bikes. Does it necessarily follow that a bike program in SV wouldn't attract even more people? That a bike program in NYC or DC wouldn't get bike commuting to, say, 5% in those cities? Of course not.

      So ultimately--let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. This is a potential solution to the problems of traffic congestion and pollution. It's not a perfect solution, but it will help. If we wring our hands and wait to do anything until we can find a perfect solution, we'll be waiting a very long time.

      Nobody's suggesting that bikes will save the world. The diarist suggested that bikes might help solve a problem. The evidence supports his point.

      O it is excellent to have a giant's strength: but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant. --Measure for Measure, II.2

      by RogueStage on Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 06:57:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Costs v. benefits, chicken & egg, etc. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      (1) Let's say you're right -- the benefits are small. But the cost is beyond small -- it's NEGATIVE. It's a money-MAKER. So why not do it?

      (2) Global warming will not be solved by one big magic solution. If it is to be addressed effectively, it will be by many small solutions, some of which will be easy and cheap and some of which will be very difficult and expensive. The more easy solutions we adopt, and the sooner, the fewer hard solutions will be necessary. Including this in the mix seems like a no-brainer.

      (3) If more people cycle and think, "Hey, this would be a lot more pleasant and efficient if we had better public transportation around here," more public transportation will come into being.

      -4.25, -4.87 "If the truth were self-evident, there would be no need for eloquence." -- Cicero

      by HeyMikey on Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 09:49:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Anything that doesn't solve all our problems (0+ / 0-)

      isn't worth doing??

      I see this as a program that has modest benefits right now, but will become more and more important as climate/peak oil concerns increase.  Let's experiment, learn what works and what doesn't, and we'll scale up as needed.

      And as HeyMikey pointed out, think in terms of cost/benefits.

      •  If somebody can make money doing it, I'm for it (0+ / 0-)

        Government shouldn't stand in the way of somebody providing such a service.

        But I don't see why it has to be subsidized.

        •  All other transportation is heavily subsidized (0+ / 0-)

          at least, all of the ones that use oil.

          The subsidies for this program are extremely small, to the extent they even exist.  The city would give up some public space for the kiosks, and the billboards may (or may not) be sold at below-market rate.

          But remember in Europe, this is being run by a for-profit company (JC Decaux), which is making quite a bit of money.

          But even if it weren't, paying small subsidies for bikes is a good way to reduce our heavy subsidies for oil.

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