TRANSIT: Urban bike programs hitting many bumps in the road



TRANSIT: Urban bike programs hitting many bumps in the road

U.S. cities hoping to lessen air pollution and traffic congestion through bike programs are facing unexpected questions over funding, accident liability and even “anti-bike” activists.

The first enthusiastic wave of bike-sharing programs worked on an honor system — bikes donated or left over from police auctions were left on racks throughout cities, trusting that users would bring the bikes back. But bikes were stolen.

Cities such as Washington, D.C., are starting to model a Parisian bike-sharing system, where users would register with a credit card, and check out a bike by swiping a card.

Funding bike programs is also a problem, and many programs were delayed because lawyers are trying to figure out who would be liable if a biker gets hurt while riding. In San Francisco, a bike program was stalled because a resident said the city had not reviewed how the bikes would affect traffic. That city now plans to add bike lanes (Alan Gomez, USA Today, Oct. 2). — HDM


  • Oct 5, 2008 at 12:00 am

    SF has Rob Anderson, who sued for and won an injunction against the city's municipal bike plan on the basis that there wasn’t any environmental impact study. Rather ironic, using such a law against majority support for the only nonpolluting alternative. What about moor vehicles impact? Study that before you allow any!

    The time will come, and it may be sooner than you think, when courts will rule against motoring on a basis that it is criminally negligent of non-motorized majority trying to breathe and live. Further, city planning that doesn't support biking and walking in favor of motoring will be held in contempt and punishable by huge fines and settlements, like tobacco cartels. Stories like the one above are ridiculous. Despite numerous impracticalities, Velibs are no problem to anyone, except impatient cagers already violating laws.

    Do you know that CT, MA, RI and Coastal NE and NH all violate federal standards for air quality? MA is now on CA emission standards, and has to pay millions to reduce pollutants. This is not someone's else's money, it is your taxes. It should be MOTORISTS' paying fuel surcharges, not public at large paying for it. I reject the notion that, if you own property or work for a living, the state can demand payment for said cleanup, especially if you don't drive. A massive surcharge will help depopulate roadways of a major nuisance, fuel hogs, aka SUVs. Cheers when the Hummer dealership on Rt 6 disappears. Ditto when Johnston's administration is replaced with pro-bicycling activists.

  • Oct 16, 2008 at 4:16 am

    So you think urban biking is for dummies? Read Labann's blog…


    SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2008

    Competitive success is not just copying previous champions but thinking out of the box. Tampa Bay’s baseball team was the American League’s surprise for 2008, mostly based on its exceptional talent and extraordinary manager, Joe Maddon. It’s Tampa Bay’s first trip to the post season in its 11-year history.

    Maddon admits to cruising around rival cities by bike to think of ways to win, like giving up a single run by walking opposing team’s best hitter with bases loaded. “When I’m able to ride, I feel a lot freer in my thinking.” He cites Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, as validating his offbeat methods, “All that stuff I thought about on bike rides gets all stirred up in a vat. That what instinct is.”

    Labann concurs. Bicycling can be too boring to be done mindlessly. There’s not much else to do while staying safe but meditate and mull. It evokes ideal brain waves for that purpose. Instinct is instant cognition that cuts through stacks of known facts. Relying on instinct is probably as logical as sorting though conflicting details, as described in Chapter "Fall Classic". If you want your ball team to be there come October, some mental magic must occur for you to find a way to win despite improbability. Tito, get a bike!