Pave more roads or free bikes? Stimulus for the future

by David Esrati on March 31, 2009

in big ideas for Dayton OH, Bike Share in Dayton Ohio, Dayton's future

While everyone seems excited about getting Federal Stimulus dollars, spending them on existing infrastructure doesn’t really stimulate much for very long. Real change means changing the infrastructure to make Dayton a more desirable place to live.

The idea of the free bike isn’t new, and it’s not out of reach. It’s working in Paris, and it’s being rolled out in small communities across the country and a few big ones. To appease the old school thinkers in Dayton- remember, the Wright Brothers were bicycle builders first.

Watch this video about the B Cycle, a big idea from Crispin Porter + Bogusky (an ad agency- with visionary leadership)
YouTube Preview Image

The video doesn’t get into the specifics – so I found this description from Time Magazine that explains it a bit better:

To borrow a SmartBike, users have to be over 18 and have a credit card. An annual fee of $40 lets riders tool around on a three-speed bike as often as they like for up to three hours at a time. Better be punctual: your second tardy return gets you booted from the system. The program keeps track of the bikes via tiny rfid chips, the same tamper-proof radio-frequency devices used to monitor everything from clothing inventories to office ID badges. Riders use a swipe card to unlock the bikes, and if they fail to return them–or if the bikes are stolen on their watch–they’ll be out $200. SmartBikes will soon be outfitted with independent wire locks so that cyclists can make pit stops wherever they want. No need to worry, though, about wheels getting pilfered. They’re not quick release and are too small for regular bike frames.

via Bike-Sharing Gets Smart – TIME.

The B Cycle site where the video came from, provides a really great way of seeing the impact of the B Cycle program- but, unfortunately, you can’t copy and paste the benefits elsewhere. If all of my readers would go to the site- and plug in their zip code, pick Dayton, I’m sure we’d be at the top of the list really quickly: http://bcycle.com/b_effect/

Sure, we could pave a few roads–or buy 2,000 bikes and 200 stations. Years from now, the roads will be in worse shape–but with the bikes–you’ll be in better shape. With our system of bike ways–and talk of complete streets, I think this is a better stimulus to our economy by far.

Help out- click on that last link.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff March 31, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Free bikes!

This concept goes back to the anarchist Provos and their White Bicycle Plan (circa 1965).

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Gene March 31, 2009 at 6:28 pm

I would love for a private company to do this.

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Jeff March 31, 2009 at 9:54 pm

I like that rental station. They designed it to look like a retro gas pump. And the blue circle D, making it look like some sort of service (like the white H for hospital). Or maybe too much like Dewewys Pizza (for our area).

Of the cities ranked on their interest-o-meter, for the top 10, Louisville came in @ #6. Wonder of wonders, Oklahoma City came in at #2.

(hmmm, I notice their bikes are white, like the Provos. Do you think they knew of that Dutch thingy from the ’60s?)

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David Esrati March 31, 2009 at 11:32 pm

@jeff, I’m sure the people at CP+B will see this- and possibly answer your question.
@Gene- it has an ability to be ad supported, but the initial investment- or the use of the public right of way for the rental stations may have to have some government involvement.

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Gene March 31, 2009 at 11:39 pm

The bikes are not that “cool”, not that I am the authority on such things – in fact I like them, which therefore anyone under the age of 45 will hate them. They are not hip enough, if you will. But that is an easy change.

These romantic ideas are fun, but honestly they won’t do it and it most likely won’t work. People love their cars, it is our independence.

“Green” ideas I support, like this, but the catch is………. as with all things I promote that are more Green, is how much money can you save. Yes, they tell us this, but make it a real number to a regular person. It may hit home.

Green is often associated with saving the environment, Great! But to make Green ideas more reasonable and attractive to the regular gal and guy, tell them they will SAVE money, or approach it with getting food discounts and such. People say they care about the environment, and to a certain degree we all do, but MOST people want OTHER people to stop driving, stop polluting, stop this and that. They really don’t want to apply it to themselves. I am certain most agree on that – we all could do more. But hit them in the wallet, for the vast majority, and you might get their attention (with all things Green, including this…)

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Greg Hunter April 1, 2009 at 2:04 am

People love their cars, it is our independence.

This way of life is negotiable and in order for Americans to maintain this “independence” several things are going to have to happen.

1. Less people

2. More Oil and Lots more Oil as in spite of the BS we have not found replacement Oil since the 1980′s.

3. The Rapture – See 1, but I don’t believe in that scenario.

Nothing replaces in oil in its utility and it is irreplaceable as a cheap energy source, so until someone refutes this fact with hard data or a proven new energy source that will allow exponential growth, investing in proven technologies that benefit health and support mobility is exactly the kind of thing the government should promote.

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Donald Phillips April 1, 2009 at 10:51 am

Good heavens!

Just purchase a bicycle and ride the damn thing. Used bicycles are readily available. People throw them out weekly. Pull one out of a trash heap and invest of a couple hundred dollars to put it back on the road. Thrift stores and junk shops freqenty have them for sale. A ‘beater bikes’ is preferable to a new one because it isn’t enticing to thieves.

Stop waiting for Godot!

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Bridget April 1, 2009 at 11:06 am

I disagree with Gene and Greg. I live in the south suburbs and when I have meetings downtown and the surrounding area, I try to consolidate all appointments into one trip. If I could park for free or cheap (5 hour meter) and grab a bike, I would. It saves me time (no need to drive around finding another parking place close to each appointment), money (not having to pay for a middle of town parking garage) and energy (looking for parking spots in traffic while maneuvering the one-ways).

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Greg Hunter April 1, 2009 at 11:36 am

Bridget I was pointing out Gene’s flawed argument.

Here is a comparison of oil power to bicycle power.

Now considering that a litre of petrol stores 10kWh (10,000 Wh) of energy, one hour spent pedaling four bicycles generates about as much energy as is stored in just three tablespoons of petrol (gasoline)! Looking at it another way, each bike was generating energy at the rate of about one small drip of oil per minute.

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Gene April 1, 2009 at 11:59 am

I had an argument? Basically, I like the idea but ultimately think that not enough people truly care. I guess that was my argument.

Show me that a majority people really care………… we all say we care, but few of us give up a car or turn down the heat in the house or live without AC , etc. The majority wants someone else to sacrifice.

But people are getting better – I just don’t think the majority will want to really give up their cars or use them a whole lot less. Over time we may get better, but as of now the sacrifice thing is for the other guy.

Prove me wrong.

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David Esrati April 14, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Excellent article from Boston on bikeshare: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/articles/2009/04/12/is_boston_ready_for_a_revolution/?page=1
There are expenses, but in the long run, cars are doomed.

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David Esrati April 23, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Another link: http://www.cooltownstudios.com/site/bike-sharing-the-next-mass-transit-system/#When:07:57:48Z
and- we’re moving ahead with this proposal. Lots of interest.
More news soon.

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David Esrati April 26, 2009 at 10:30 am

A whole summary of the NYC bike share plan- (Thanks to Bill Pote)
http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/transportation/td_bike_share.shtml
142 page pdf to download and read.

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David Esrati May 4, 2009 at 6:07 am

The NYT has an article about hotels in Europe supplying branded bicycles as an amenity. http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/travel/03journeys.html?emc=eta1
Dayton as a vacation paradise? It fits with the aviation tourism theme.

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David Esrati May 14, 2009 at 11:33 am

Another NYT article on the Montreal system: good stuff:
http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/13/montreal-inaugurates-continents-most-ambitious-bike-sharing-program/

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