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Totalitarian Plot or Just a Bike Share Program?

by Borderstan.com — June 6, 2013 at 10:00 am 0

From John Shannon, who writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics. Email him at john[AT]borderstan.com.

"Bike"

DC’s Capital Bikeshare program. (Luis Gomez Photos)

DC has fallen in love with Capital Bikeshare (although not everyone in DC loves bikes,  bikers or bike lanes). The system has grown in numbers of bikes, stations and users ever since its opening. It has made parts of our city more accessible and helped many Washingtonians get into better shape.

However, in New York City the story might seem different with the opening of Citi Bike, at least according some detractors. New York’s bike sharing plan might even be a totalitarian plot!

Dorothy Rabinowitz, of Wall Street Journal Editorial Board fame, has criticized New York City’s bike share infrastructure plan in a video, which can only be characterized as an indignant rant, complaining that the bikes and ostensibly the people who ride them, are mucking up the scenery for her and her friends.

Apparently, “we now look at a city whose best neighborhoods are absolutely, you know, begrimed, is the word… by these blazing blue Citibank bikes, in all the finest, most picturesque parts of the city.”

She says, “the majority of citizens are appalled by what has happened,” and, “the bike lobby is an all-powerful enterprise.”

How all-powerful you may ask? Let’s ‘hit the streets’ to find out! Here are comments that accompanied a New York magazine article.

  • Just how powerful is the bike lobby? So powerful that you’ve never heard of it.
  • WSJ thinks that the bike lobby is all-powerful, but oil companies, arms manufacturers and Goldman Sachs are just victims.
  • “The majority of citizens are appalled by what has happened.” a line often used by someone who is part of a definite minority.
  • Truly disturbing interview by Dorothy Rabinowitz. Even the WSJ interviewer inserted a reality check by mentioning that no pedestrians have been killed by NYC cyclists in the past 4 years, yet there have been nearly 600 deaths of cyclists and pedestrians by cars. Dorothy didn’t pause for a split second before starting her rant.
  • Love the curmudgeons. If Ms. Rabinowitz looked at one bike, she would see the Rules of biking right on the handlebars. Those poor taxicabs don’t stand a chance against a bike – better watch out.

As is often the case with these kind of stories, the fun is in the comment sections, but some serious and thoughtful comments were posted on NYC websites and on YouTube.

  • bikeshare is great. an urban game changer. only problem is that the smart-dock technology is outdated: http://inventropolis.com/bikeshares-technological-…
  • How come no one has noticed that the citibike app continually posts the wrong information about the bikes available at the bike stations? The number of bikes that are supposedly available is off by double or triple the number of bikes — right now E45 and 3rd is supposed to have 4 bikes and it has 13. I just passed 3 stations in Midtown East and all were way off.
  • @driverseven – Use Spotcycle app – it’s 10,000 times better. Plus it has all the OTHER cities with bike share.

In a growing city of 8.3 million people, according to an NPR piece on March 13, apparently there is only one disgruntled voice so far to complain about NYC’s new bike-share system.

Even at this early stage of New York City’s bike-share program, that statistic must surely qualify it as a resounding success.

Hats off to New York City, hats off!

Helmets “on” though, riders!

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