Monday, September 30, 2013

Rolling out Boise Bike Share

I happened across a news story reporting that Dave Fotsch has been named the first director of the Boise Bike Share project. And it, in turn, points at the Boise Bike Share website.

Gosh! I must've gone to sleep under a rock! Last I heard, it was in the "study stage." I had no idea that it was ready to roll forward, but they intend to have it up and running sometime in the spring or summer of next year. It will be operated by Valley Regional Transit - the same people who run the city buses and the vanpool program.

The initial rollout will be 70 bikes at 7 strategically-located stations; those numbers will double as the program expands to envisioned capacity. Memberships - required to use the bikes for 30-minute intervals - will range from $5 for a daily pass to $75 for a year.

Does Boise have the population base to support such an endeavor? I guess we're going to find out. New York City's new "Citibike" has been wildly successful; similar bike-shares in other cities not quite so much, at least in participation and keeping the bikes rolling.

Most successful bike-sharing cities have large populations of apartment dwellers and other "urbanites" for whom owning and storing a bike can be much more complicated than for us suburban-types who have garages, etc. And large numbers of tourists, who would be the primary customers for the daily and weekly membership options.

For me, the main downside is the cost; estimated to be $650K for the rollout, or $4600 per bike. And if corporate sponsorships were paying for it, as in NYC, I'd have no bones to pick. But in Boise's case, the deep-pocket taxpayers will be picking up the tab for the startup. (According to the website, the money will come from "federal transportation alternatives dollars" and federal Surface Transportation Program.)

Um - we're broke! Just in case you haven't been paying attention, the government is poised to shut down for lack of funds. We (the citizens of the U.S.A.) are in debt almost $17 trillion! If we were flush with surplus funds, a bike share would probably be an awesome expenditure, but not when we're bankrupt. (I liken our debt ceiling to a family with a maxed-out credit card and barely able to make the minimum payment each month. So they call the bank and ask to have their credit limit raised $5000... it's approved, and to celebrate they buy new furniture! The problem has NOT been solved!)

(Sorry to be Mister Buzz-kill... but we're in our current horrible fiscal situation because NOBODY wants to be Mister Buzz-kill, least of all our esteemed "public servants"!)

(Previous commentary: HERE and HERE.)

1 comment:

Clancy Anderson said...

I agree with you the cost in general. But a smaller community like Boise may be able to make it work.