May 3, 2013

May 3, 2013

This Sidewalk's Mine


Do you live in a city with an –ist? I’m codependent with DCist to an unhealthy degree, and I’m getting there with Gothamist. Call me a sucker for hyperlocal news, call me an RSS addict, but don’t call me unaware of the idiosyncracies of our great cities. Even Shanghaiist paints an exotic picture of stray puppies, school hijinks, and reviews of the new Iron Man movie. Long live our metropolises (metropolii?)!

(Well, except Austinist, because seriously? One of these things is not like the others.)

(Yeah, haters gonna hate.)

Sometimes, a trend can be found in the travails of multiple cities. Case in point: bike sharing programs. Whilst in London, I learned of but didn’t really take note of the whole Barclay “Boris” Bike situation. I was a tourist in a city that can do no wrong. Why should I care about racks of blue bikes? There were PALACES to visit! With ROYALS!

Then Capital Bikeshare came to DC and

OH

HELL

NO.

Hell to the no. Because now I’m dealing with the typical Capital Bikeshare cyclist:

A. Not from around here = unfamiliar with the streets.
B. Allowed to bike on the sidewalk, WHERE I AM WALKING.
C. Not used to riding a bike.
D. Riding a Capital Bikeshare bike, which is almost as unwieldy as a wonky grocery cart that even the homeless won’t steal.

La di freaking dah. And the program just keeps expanding. It’s like an STD*, or the Kardashian family. Now, it’s New York’s turn. The program there is going to be called Citi Bikes, and has already raised a number of hackles. (Note to self: What is a hackle?) The racks has been shoehorned into already-cramped streetscapes. The bikes suck (see point D, above). And so on.

It’s like a train (bike?) wreck. I can’t look away. I mean, DC is one thing. But New York is even bigger, and more crowded, with less parking. Who thought this was a good idea, again? Freaking cyclists. (To blog friends who cycle: I don’t hate you individually. I hate the people who rides these shared bikes collectively. Because I typically WALK faster than they BIKE.)

Where I grew up, we didn’t have this sort of thing, because it’s warm enough for cycling only three months of the year. Since those three months are dedicated to the complete overhaul of every road and sidewalk, it’s barely possible to drive, let alone cycle. Plus, we’re not so hot on the whole physical fitness thing in Wisconsin. Because CHEESE.

Should this sort of shared-bicycle program come to your town, and should that town not be Portland, you’ve been forewarned.

* I first typed “like a bad STD” then realized, aren’t they all bad?

2 Fish in a Sea of Diet Coke:

1. Madison had a bike-share problem, and you nailed all the ills about it. Although generally, it managed to keep the rental stations out of crowded places. Which just led me to wonder: how did they expect the tourists to GET the bikes?

2. "it’s warm enough for cycling only three months of the year. Since those three months are dedicated to the complete overhaul of every road and sidewalk, it’s barely possible to drive, let alone cycle." THIS IS ACCURATE. On the other hand, being on a bike at least 'allowed' one to ignore the barricades and cut through the construction zones in their off hours. At least, I did it all the time, and never got more than a wistful glance from commuters.

3. Your remark about Portland made me Google, and I'm *thrilled* to discover this lovely city will be opening a bike share in 2014. Le sigh.

How timely. We were just today discussing OKC's bike sharing (Spokies).

1. Here, there are about three months too cold to bike. But there are a good six months too hot to bike.

2. We're a (small) driving city. Parking is easy; foot and auto traffic is light. The roads are wide enough they just tacked bike lanes onto a number of streets with only some paint and a stencil. No need to change anything else. There's plenty of room for biking, and no need for it.

3. Also, we're a driving city. There really isn't much within biking distance.

4. Also, we're a driving city. No one uses the shared bikes. We've had them for about a year, and I've never seen a person use one.

5. Also, tourists?