Friday, December 27, 2013

Big City / Little City Biking

First, little city. (Boise is still on the "little" side, I maintain.) There is a story on the Statesman website about the bike sharing program that is launching in 2014, if the honchos have their way. I've commented before, most recently in September.

Really, there's not anything new to report. The annual pass remains at $75 (providing unlimited use, in 30-minute increments). Weekly and daily passes will also be available. The 14 stations scattered across town will cost $20k-30k each to install. The bikes will probably be "3 speed cruisers." If you lose one while you have it checked out, you'll probably have to cough up $1200 to replace it. (Sweeeeet cruiser, huh?!!)

I like the concept of bike share! And it really makes sense in densely-populated cities with lots of tourists and downtown apartment dwellers. The demographics are a little different in Boise - not a huge tourist trade, and relatively few urban apartment dwellers (where space is at a premium and a "shared" bike would therefore be more attractive). But it could very well be successful here, if you measure success in usage.

If you measure "successful" by the program being self-sustaining, it's less likely. Most or all bike share programs are subsidized, either by the government or private industry. (Driving a car or riding a city bus are also subsidized.) My only misgivings about the Boise Bike Share are the government subsidies. As a fiscal conservative, I question the expenditure of public dollars for yet another new program, when we're already so deeply in debt. As one commenter on the Statesman website said, "The amount of money for bike share programs is dwarfed by corporate subsidies. Bike share gets a crumb or two while corporate interests get their own cake." That is true... but a million bike shares, pathways, bridge rebuilds, highway projects, etc., etc., and suddenly you have multiple cakes' worth of crumbs!

Get some deep-pockets local private enterprise - Zions Bank, US Bank, Micron, Gardener Company, Albertsons - to sponsor it, and I'm all in!

Now, Big City. Chicago has seen a major uptick in the number of bicycle commuters. As bike lanes have expanded, and they've kicked off their own bike share (second in scope only to New York, in USA programs), gas keeps getting more expensive, more people have taken to their two-wheelers.

Bike lanes, and maintenance of bike lanes (including winter maintenance) aren't free. And a city councilman recently suggested a $25/year cycling tax to offset those expenses. Story HERE. Some - the anti-bike people - spoke up in favor. Others mocked the idea. "Maybe pedestrians ought to be charged a shoe tax to use the sidewalks." There are other questions - how is it enforced? being a major one.

I can see both sides. As a libertarian/conservative, I'm totally in favor of the actual beneficiaries of the facility, whatever it happens to be, footing the bill. And I'm happy to pay my fair share. But what is it?

Everybody benefits when people choose bike transportation, in the sense that the roadways become incrementally less congested, and air quality incrementally improves. And even if I don't own a car, I benefit from having the roads, so the UPS guy can bring stuff to me, and the garbage man can take stuff away.

But should the person who rides 50 miles a year, pay the same "tax" as the person who rides 5000 miles a year? And how much wear-and-tear does a bicycle inflict on the infrastructure, compared with a Prius or a Peterbilt? It's very difficult to make any sort of objective assessment. (Even a per-gallon fuel tax is "rigged," because miles per gallon doesn't always equate to wear-and-tear, need for infrastructure, etc.)

1 comment:

john said...

On Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gear Review - Nashbar Jacket, Lightman Xenon Strobe
This was your review.
Correspondent and friend Bob T introduced me to the Lightman Xenon strobe light. As soon as I saw it, I knew if I could afford it I had to have one. I found it for $12.99 (!), plus shipping, at the "Code-2" website. (NOTE: It's marked as "closeout," so will likely not be available long-term.) Code 2 has it in blue or amber; I ordered 2 amber ones. The package arrived quickly, and with tracking info, etc. I can recommend the Code-2 folks based on my experience.
Do you still have strobe and are you willing to sell it