First, I owe you kids an apology for yesterday’s mysterious lack of blog entry. I’m unusually busy this quarter (turns out I’m actually reading for my classes… go figure) and I can’t keep updating every day. Starting now I’ll only be writing Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I know it’s depressing, but please stop crying so openly.
Alright, on to today’s topic of news. Though the rumors have been circulating for months, it seems as if the bike sharing program in Washington D.C. will finally grow some legs and get off the ground. SmartBike DC will have 10 locations around the city, providing users 120 bikes to rent for three hours at a time. Users will only have to pay a $40 membership fee annually for use of the SmartBikes whenever they please. The bikes will obviously reduce the stress on the already overworked transit system in D.C. and will make Mother Earth smile.
The pessimists, of course, say bikes will be stolen within just a few weeks or that lazy people will just take a cab. But programs similar to SmartBike have already launched around Europe and have done quite well. I saw Paris’ Vélib’ in action while I was abroad and it worked damn well. You don’t need a membership to use Vélib’, just a French bank account (though memberships are available and make renting bikes easier). For every 30 minutes you ride, your bank account is charged a fee. You can keep the bike for as long as you want; all you have to keep in mind is that fees get up to 4 euro per half hour – which will be something like $17 soon – and can get expensive if you keep the bike for too long (maybe the U.S. should keep this “We charge your bank account for the whole time you have the bike” thing in mind). The Parisians love their Vélib’ because the bikes will never go on strike, like the Metro workers are prone to do.
Though American transit workers don’t strike the way the Parisians do, getting to work via public transportation can still be a bitch. With most of us all hyped up on squishing global warming and saving money in the face of an almost certain recession, I think SmartBikes will please Americans and become quite successful. In fact, I think SmartBikes would be great at UCSB and in Isla Vista. I wouldn’t have to worry about my bike getting stolen or impounded by the CSOs. I could just pick up a bike from a rack whenever I needed and go! Maybe we could even enlist the Trunk Boiz to work on bike design. Ah, excellent idea. Snaps for SmartBike.