January 25, 2011

"The money would come from the contingency reserve fund, where money is mainly used for unexpected expenses."

Oh! The contingency reserve fund, where we get money when we need more money, because we hadn't expected that we were going to spend money on that.

That in this case is a bicycle-sharing program, called B-Cycle, here in Madison, so it's just another project the City Council thinks it would be nice to have. It's regular old spending on a fancy (and probably terrible) supposed improvement, that in no way seems to be an "unexpected expense."
The proposal includes the installation of 35 stations and would bring 350 bikes to Madison in May.

The tentative user fees range from $10 day passes to $65 annual passes, and there is a proposed student annual price of $45.

Users would use credit or debit cards to pay for the passes.

Chicago, Denver and some European cities are among those with bike sharing systems already installed. According to [Director of Operations for B-Cycle Danielle] Dejean, in Denver the use of the rented bikes replaced 43 percent of car trips.
According to Dejean... Sorry, I don't believe it!
"Bike sharing is synonymous with world-class cities," Dejean said.
So get a bike-sharing system and be a world-class city.

ADDED: The only way this is an "unexpected expense" is if this is an impulse purchase. Either it was carefully planned and thought-through, in which case they shouldn't tap the contingency reserve fund. Or it's a sudden flight of fancy, in which case they should calm down and figure out exactly what they're doing and whether it's a good idea.

By the way, what happens if the bike gets stolen en route from one station to the next? What keeps annual pass holders from stowing the bikes at home between rides? What happens when kids don't use helmets? Etc. etc.

105 comments:

Comrade X said...

buying a bike is one of the things only government can do.

Robert Burnham said...

So much of leftie behavior can be explained by their craving to be approved of by Europeans.

Scott M said...

So much of leftie behavior can be explained by their craving to be approved of by Europeans.

HOWARD JOHNSON IS RIGHT!!!

Florida said...

This is just more proof that our government has too much fucking money.

If Democrats think we can afford to piss away our tax money (rainy day tax money to boot!) purchasing bicycles in the middle of a fucking recession - when 17% of our citizens are either completely unemployed or cannot find a full time job, and food bank use is rising dramatically and when people cannot afford the massively priced health insurance we have been compelled like slaves to purchase - then we need to remove Democrats from public office.

Democrarts are demonstating that they are too immature to handle the responsibility of governing our country.

This is just another example of their immaturity.

You start bike programs when every OTHER fucking problem has been solved.

Not until then.

SteveR said...

43% wow? It would probably be 100% if they could get the snowplows clearing the roads quicker

Scott M said...

You start bike programs when every OTHER fucking problem has been solved.

Follow the money. Someone's uncle is deep in the pockets of the bike chain, reflector, or clickity-clacker lobby.

Original Mike said...

No way Paul Soglin will spend money on bicycle-sharing. The election can't come soon enough.

AllenS said...

It's a really good idea. Once implimented, the oceans will start to recede and the earth will begin to heal.

that-xmas said...

A lot of the Parisian bike have ended up as wrecks in the Seine or being used on the streets in Africa.

Just saying, for $10 plus the the cost of opening, then closing a bank account, you can get a pretty spiffy bike.

AllenS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Florida said...

Taxpayers On Hook: $300,000
Bikes purchased: 350

Cost per bike: $857.00

Who buys a bike for $857 in the middle of a fucking recession except Democrats with too much of our tax money to blow on wasteful shit like bicycles?

Madison City Channel facing $270,000 deficit

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt_and_politics/article_83437179-ffbb-5512-99a8-f1e9c3199a14.html

Madison Schools Facing Array of Cuts
http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt_and_politics/article_387fb4c2-28c7-11df-8a77-001cc4c002e0.html

State Deficit Looms Over Vows to Spur Growth
http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/elections/article_1330169e-c403-11df-b61f-001cc4c002e0.html

In the face of all this horrible economic news, Democrats running Madison, Wisconsin want to piss away $857 apiece of taxpayer money buying 350 fucking bicycles?

It's time to recall these bastards.

AllenS said...

If you could get on a train in Madison, you could take a bike to Milwaukee and sell it.

Michael said...

Could you take said bicycles on the high speed train to Milwaukee to see a baseball game and ride it to and from that ball park to the luxury European style terminal? That is the larger question.

Florida said...

Much of leftie behavior has already been explained by Lyle Lanley.

"A town with money is a lot like a mule with a spinning wheel. Nobody knows how he got it and danged if he knows how to use it."

Monorail!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEZjzsnPhnw

SarcastiCarrie said...

If it's such a great idea, maybe the private company would like to open a business renting bikes, earn a profit, and keep the government out of it.

qv: mnesti, really.

PaulV said...

It would make more sense to buy used clunker bikes and let people use them for free. I had an English bike stolen when I was 15 and was not upset. (1) at that age you had friend with cars and (2) it had no breaks. I just turned it uphill and wore out the soles of my tennis shoes.

AllenS said...

Yes, Michael, you could. Then you could sell it.

Calypso Facto said...

How'd you like to be one of the city employees told they have to be laid off this year due to hard economic times and the importance of the city's heretofore un-missed BIKE SHARE program?

Of course, since the city MANDATES new bike racks from suppliers of their choice (cough, cough, KICKBACK?!?! cough, cough) for all new commercial construction, they have to find a way to fill the racks. I know our new $2,500 bike rack has yet to see a bicycle.

James said...

No comment about Michelle not getting enough of us killed meandering about our highways...

Florida said...

"If it's such a great idea, maybe the private company would like to open a business renting bikes, earn a profit, and keep the government out of it."

You clearly did not read the story. You see, Madison is getting a better discount than Denver, Brockway, Ogdenville or North Haverbrook!. And by gum it put them on the map.

Ah well ... I guess this idea was more of a Shelbyville idea than a Madison idea.

Here's the corrupt Democrat-dominiated multi-national for-profit company behind this theft of Madison's taxpayer dollars.

http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/company/believe/

Gee, I wonder if any city council members have been taking campaign donations from Trek Bikes or its executives.

rdkraus said...

The bikes in Paris are kinda cool. Don't know if they're a money maker or loser. The women in skirts look good on them, the guys in shorts ... well, better not go there.

I'd estimate they replace less than one percent of car use based on what I saw.

43% ??? This is too far off to be even a good joke. It's just a big lie.

flynful said...

Of course, they will come with snow tires for the winter.
Steve G

TosaGuy said...

Is the Contingency Reserve Fund monitored by the Dept. of Redundancy Department?

Original Mike said...

"in Denver the use of the rented bikes replaced 43 percent of car trips."

Oh, come on!

Maguro said...

Sounds great, then r-v can commute to his world class environmental engineering school on a publicly owned bicycle. A progressive's wet dream.

garage mahal said...

The CBO is wrong!

Shanna said...

857 for a bike? For a bike sharing, taxpayer funded, half the bikes will probably be stolen anyway program, maybe you should start with the 100 dollar kind.

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)



My town tried this…it was an abject failure…true it wasn’t structured like this, but it was a costly failure…beware.

As a side note, I understand it’s appeal, my boss lamented the failure of the Bike Program in ****, (). I pointed out that the program was fundamentally flawed, but my boss, though admitting that the flaws were obvious, and unstoppable, STILL Lamented that “people aren’t nice enough” to make such a program work…Geeeeeeeez, no wonder things like this pass, people can’t get their heads around the fact that people will do nasty things, if given the chance, and we just keep on hoping that they’ll do the right thing. OI VEY!

garage mahal said...

It's been a failure everywhere it's been tried!

AJ Lynch said...

Do the fish get a bike too?

TWM said...

Feel good wast of money as nearly all liberal ideas are. You can get a decent bike at Wal-Mart for a little over $100 by the way. And I heard Wisconson winters were pretty harsh so who is going to bike in that crap?

Scott M said...

Do the fish get a bike too?

Naw. He didn't need it.

Honestly, folks. Florida has a very good point. Expenses like this are for days when a city is running a budget surplus. There has GOT to be a better place for those funds to be used. Hell, putting it in a savings account is a better use.

Our officials need to grow up and run their offices like they run their own personal finances...across the board.

Hagar said...

The eternal libaral complaint:
"But we did not mean for that to happen!"

john said...

My town got all its "free bikes" stolen or trashed in about a year. Despite painting them (with brushes) using donated roof coating and giving them rotted out seats (so noone would want to steal them).

Most are probably still being used in Mexico; nice that the program had some benefit.

We might be called the Berkeley of Arizona, but as for being a world class city, not yet.

rhhardin said...

Check one out and ride it to NYC.

Dad29 said...

So get a bike-sharing system and be a world-class city.

Wait, wait!! Does that mean that a Midwestern wannabee 'world class city' can give up the Bucks and Brewers cash-drains??

All it needs is bicycles??

Original Mike said...

"Expenses like this are for days when a city is running a budget surplus."

Exactly.

Trooper York said...

I think bikes should be banned for anyone over 14 years old.

All they do in NYC is run down little old ladies while they are trying to cross the street.

Enough with this liberial commie yuppie bullshit!

virgil xenophon said...

For ONCE garage is right! And the reason? Well, most bike rides are spontaneous decisions, not planned, and in Europe they eschewed "safety" concerns by not demanding helmets. IIRC most US cities where this has been tried and FAILED miserably have done so because, in large part, they have required the rider to provide his own helmet for "safety"/insurance-liability considerations in our typical nanny-state manner, thus making use of bikes a pre-planned operation rather than flexible, "spur-of-the-moment" decision and also a logistical burden on the potential rider who has to lug his helmet around all day whether on bike or no...hence a predictable (to sane people) "unexpected lack of participation."

Meade said...

The proposal is expected to be heard at the City Council meeting Feb. 1.

I expect to see all you naysayers there then.

Tex the Pontificator said...

The City of San Antonio, Texas started a bike-sharing program for the approximate cost of which we could have given a bicycle to every man, woman, and child in the City. But of course, that's not what we did, because it would not have put money into the hands of the ministering class. I occasionally see a City bicycle locked up somewhere. I personally have never seen one available to ride.

Meade said...

Common Council Meeting
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
6:30 p.m.
Room 201, City-County Building

Let me know if you need directions.

chr1 said...

Out in Seattle here, the bikers are militant. They "activate" and protest for their rights. Really, you don't want this in your town.

Everytime a non-Prius coughs out exhaust, Gaia sheds a tear.

Scott M said...

Let me know if you need directions.

Passive-aggressiveness will get you nowhere.

...unless that's the name of the new high-speed rail line to Milwaukee. Then it will get you to Milwaukee.

Meade said...

rhhardin said...
Check one out and ride it to NYC.

THAT is a marvelous idea. Via Columbus, Ohio. Join me?

Meade said...

Great Allegheny Passage
1,227 mi
4 days 11 hours

Who's in?

Richard Dolan said...

"Contingency reserve fund" has such a nice, CPA-like ring to it -- rhetoric promising but not delivering serious, green-eyeshade stuff. And then you stop to wonder: what would a non-contingency reserve fund be?

As Ann shows, it's more fancy labels offered to hide ordinary realities that the offeror would just as soon no one noticed.

William said...

I would be interested in finding out the methodology by which they arrived at the 43% figure. Did they round it off from 42.7%? Does that figure include rainy days and were fat Americans counted in the survey?

Florida said...

Here is information on how to recall any Madison City Council members who vote to give a private for-profit multi-national bike conglomerate your hard-earned tax dollars:

http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Laws_governing_recall_in_Wisconsin

Florida said...

"I would be interested in finding out the methodology by which they arrived at the 43% figure."

Here is the metholodology they used:

1) Shove your arm as far up your ass as you can possibly fucking jam it.

2) Grab ahold of a "fact"

3) Then, pull your shit-stained arm out of your colon. Present said "fact" to an admiring city council and collect your $300,000.

Got it?

Florida said...

"'Contingency reserve fund' has such a nice, CPA-like ring to it ..."

Yea, sounds a lot more respectible than "slush fund" which is what it really is.

Bob Ellison said...

Anyone studying the promotion of bike-use as a civic virtue must grapple with the Netherlands. Some governments there have placed free bikes around, and the whole country is dedicated to biking. But there are several key ingredients:

1) The entire country is flat. Get the bike rolling, and you can pretty much coast to your destination.

2) In the eyes of the law, the bicyclist is pretty much always right. If a car hits a bike, it's the car's fault. So people on bikes worry much less about traffic and cars.

3) No helmets. Laws and culture requiring helmets are death to biking-as-transportation.

Without these ingredients, you can't get very many people biking everywhere. A city bike program might still do some good, but probably not enough to justify the cost of administering it.

traditionalguy said...

This is so old fashioned. The walking challenged folks deserve Segways and Vespas. Giving away stuff for free is not nearly liberal enough unless it shows our commitment to the walking challenged.

Trooper York said...

Meade said....
I expect to see all you naysayers there then.


Sorry. I am saving my naysaying for the Super Bowl.

Bob From Ohio said...

"the use of the rented bikes replaced 43 percent of car trips"

Its a known fact that 90% of all stats are simply made up.

bandmeeting said...

I used the system in Montreal last summer. It is used extensively by the residents and is fairly convenient for tourists (the exception being a $750 hold on your credit card and the fact that you can only use it for 30 minutes at a time if you don't have a long term pass). The stations are EVERYWHERE. On is never far from one. I'm not sure who paid for the system or if it makes money (possible but not likely).

regarding the complaints about riders in NYC, "they run over grannies", and the recent ticket fest: Are you pedestrians willing to start waiting for green lights before crossing the street? I see peds constantly stepping into traffic and causing drivers--with the right of way--to slow down.

roesch-voltaire said...

While vacationing in Paris this summer, I used a similar system to avoid the hot Metro system-- it worked fine, but fellow riders told me at the beginning many of the bikes were stolen by out of work teens, and than presented a costly problem. We have the free red bike system here in Madison, which I think is cheaper and can be just as effective if more folks would donate bikes--thus eliminating the need to this extra government spending.

bandmeeting said...

It's been a failure everywhere it's been tried

I just saw this. I'm too lazy to research but that really does not appear to be the case in Montreal.

It must have cost a fortune to implement and there is certainly maintenance involved but there is lots of money coming in. There is heavy use of the bikes.

AJ Lynch said...

RV Said:

"bikes stolen by out of work teens".

Anecdotal, please provide a link that substantiates this statement. :)

AJ Lynch said...

Bandmeeting said:

"but there is lots of money coming in"

A lot? Anecdotal- please quantify how many Canadian Francs are in a lot?

Scott M said...

Anecdotal, please provide a link that substantiates this statement.

Well, 43% of the cars were burned by the unemployed youths, so they didn't have any alternative but to bike it.

edutcher said...

This is in keeping with the SOTU, where The Zero will announce Stimulus III.

PS Agree with those who say this will not work. Do the city fathers think Master made its fortune only making locks for lockers?

bandmeeting said...

how many Canadian Francs are in a lot?

Duh! They dropped the Franc and converted to the "Northo" some years ago.

AJ Lynch said...

Scott M:
My point exactly! Heh- if we hire an out of work teen and he stops stealing bikes and torching cars, we will have to layoff all those people who used to build and sell replacements for all those stolen bikes and burnt cars!

MarkW said...

"in Denver the use of the rented bikes replaced 43 percent of car trips."

I suspect that what they were actually claiming was that 43% of the bike trips replaced a car trip. Not that car trips were reduced by 43% (which would be absurd).

But it's a ridiculous idea for a medium-sized city where winters are brutal, and bikes are cheap to buy. Why would anybody spend $65 a year to ride heavy rental bikes when they could buy their own used bike for about the same money (or pick up a basic new one at Target for $100).

As a resident of Madison's doppelganger city in Michigan, it always warms my heart a little to read that Madison's city government has done something stupider than Ann Arbor's.

Trooper York said...

regarding the complaints about riders in NYC, "they run over grannies", and the recent ticket fest: Are you pedestrians willing to start waiting for green lights before crossing the street? I see peds constantly stepping into traffic and causing drivers--with the right of way--to slow down.

Dude are you are a fuckin' idiot or what. All this bike douchebags do is ride the wrong way down the street so if you look behind you towards traffic they ride right up you ass going the wrong way down the block. Then the fuckin assholes ride on the side walk and expect you to get out of the way like you are in the wrong for walking in front of your house. You bike riders are a fuckin menace and should be banned. Everyone should be alone in their car smoking a cigarette and talking on their cellphone. That's what made America great!!!!!

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trooper York said...

Bikes are like horses. You should only be allowed to ride them in designated bike paths in the woods in parks.

And don't get me started on bike shorts. Jeeeez.

PatCA said...

Yes, the Paris bikes are vandalized and stolen. The SF bikes are too few in number to make a difference.

The Zipcar is a much better alternative, but it is a private profit making concern, and t/4 kind of capitalist-y evil, right?

bandmeeting said...

Dude are you are a fuckin' idiot or what. All this bike douchebags do is ride the wrong way down the street so if you look behind you towards traffic they ride right up you ass going the wrong way down the block.

Everyone should be alone in their car smoking a cigarette and talking on their cellphone


Then get off my sidewalk so I can ride my bike in my oh so fab lycra shorts.

Trooper York said...

This is all part of the international communist conspiracy headed by all people: Nanny Michael Bloomberg.

You know some big fat cats were big time commies like Armand Hammer. Nanny Bloomberg is trying to destroy America. He's like fucking Lex Luthor or something. He wants to take away our salt, take away our transfat donuts, he wants everybody to ride bikes and eat fucking tofu.

It is the duty of all real Americans to fight this tryanny. Slash bike tires! Eat two donuts tomorrow! Put extra salt on your pizza!

FUCK THE FOOD POLICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NO MORE BIKES!!!!!!!!!!

GASOLINE, TOBACCO AND FIREARMS ARE WHAT MADE THIS COUNTRY GREAT!!!!!!

Trooper York said...

That and taking things from the Indians.

LET"S TAKE BACK THE CASINOS!!!!!!!!

Florida said...

"Its a known fact that 90% of all stats are simply made up."

As history has shown us, that's only true 42.2% of the time.

Trooper York said...

Four out of five people who don't go to dentists think Michael Bloomberg is a douchebag.

Robin said...

The claimed statistic about Denver is a fraud. Except for a single big event, I never saw one of the bike's used all season. Which ended in September oddly enough. The racks are all empty for the winter.

bandmeeting said...

I don't post here often so you would likely have no way of knowing that we are on the same side...........but you should get a bike.

It's how I have emancipated myself from the MTA. When I see people waiting for those crappy buses or walking into that subway hole to share a bit of their day stacked into a car with all those smelly crazy and, in many cases, menacing people I feel juuuust wooonderful. But maybe it is the nylon shorts.

My only worry re: Bloomberg. Who comes after him? Eugene Debs? That guy (as has been stated, I'm too lazy to look up his name)who ran against Bloomberg his second time that wanted to turn the city into one big rent controlled building? That serial candidate Green(e)? I fear very much.

I see this bike lane hysteria a lot like global warming. The Post (god bless 'em)thinks if they run enough stories about it then it will be true.

Glenn Howes said...

As it happens, when in graduate school in Madison, I rode my bike around campus on just about any day there wasn't snow plowing, and sometimes then.

I did get two bikes stolen though.

Trooper York said...

I walk everywhere I need to go since I really thing the world only exists between Atlantic and Hamilton Avenues.

When I need to go somewhere I far I call a gyspy cab.

Bike riding is for kids. Well not even for kids as they have to wear helmets and armor like they are about to joust with Ivanhoe.

Trooper York said...

The next mayor is going to be a typical New York City Democratic hack like Christine Quinn or someone like that.....they will screw everything up. It is just gonna happen.

As Tex Antione used to say....you need to lie back and enjoy it.

AllenS said...

Ok, so let's say that you get on one of these bikes, travel down the road, have the front tire blow out, hit the curb and then your head hits a fire hydrant. Who's liable?

prairie wind said...

43%?? Don't let the Omaha mayor hear that. He'll get all excited about the idea just like he got all excited about light rail. This guy is facing a recall election today. Not sure how it will turn out but he diminished his chances by busing homeless people to the election office to vote early, and by paying them $5 for a training session. Because there was a chance he'd hire them at $10/hour to campaign for him on election day. Plus, he asked them to sign something that swears they weren't paid to vote. Yeah.

wv: runboi

Fernandinande said...

If it were a good idea they'd be taxing it rather than subsidizing it.

Scott M said...

If it were a good idea they'd be taxing it rather than subsidizing it.

Thread winner.

Coketown said...

These operations are pretty successful on a small scale, like at the beach where a stand will have maybe 25 bikes for rent for the day. On a large, city-wide scale these things are huge drains on money. Of course there's things like maintenance, theft, vandalism, and employing people to monitor the system. There's the problem of resource misallocation: Just like car traffic, bike traffic tends to coalesce in different areas at different times, so you'll get some stations empty and others overcrowded. Finally, assuming numbers like 43% of trips replaced by bikes, that is a substantial amount of foregone revenue from gasoline tax. For a city like Denver, that could easily creep into the millions.

If the program reduces traffic and gets people healthy, great. But pretending it is anything other than a drain on city and state finances is delusional.

PatCA said...

Trooper,
I am resisting in my own small way. I refuse to eat Starbuck's PC, fat free, sugar free "pastry" and saunter in each morning for my espresso holding a Big D Donut bag, which contains a big, fatty, sugary donut.

Power to the people!

homosapien said...

PaulV said...

"It would make more sense to buy used clunker bikes and let people use them for free."

The city of Madison did this. It was called the "red bike" program. People did treat the bikes like they were free; they stole them, trashed them, and abandoned them on the streets (trash) when they became unrideable.

Whoever repaired the old clunkers made money, some people got free bikes, some people got free rides, the rest of us paid for the program.

Also... Remember when Trek Bicycles funded Dave Cieslewicz's bike study trip to Europe? It looks like it paid dividends, err gained political and economic favors.

Shanna said...

regarding the complaints about riders in NYC, "they run over grannies", and the recent ticket fest: Are you pedestrians willing to start waiting for green lights before crossing the street?

In DC, they were always running on the (quite crowded) sidewalks in gtown, which they probably were not supposed to do. And yes, they seemed like they might mow you over any second.

As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers; but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate bikers! ...

Scott M said...

The city of Madison did this. It was called the "red bike" program. People did treat the bikes like they were free; they stole them, trashed them, and abandoned them on the streets (trash) when they became unrideable.

Oddly enough...the exact same sort of thing happened to the appliances in the free public housing St Louis tried a couple decades ago. The site, once two high-rises, has been leveled and rebuilt again as privately owned, middle income condos.

Guess which version of that neighborhood looks nicer?

Sigivald said...

"Bike sharing is synonymous with world-class cities," Dejean said.

Like hell it is. It's synonymous with bike-obsessed hippies having political influence.

(And if it's synonymous, doesn't that imply that Denver is a "world-class city"?

Shenanigans, I say.)

Scott M said...

Shenanigans, I say

The tragic and sad sort, not the cheeky and fun type. The next person that says Shenanigans gets pistol whipped.

murgatroyd666 said...

Shenanigans, I say.

It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham!

ricpic said...

I'm a biker guy and I'm okay
I knock down those who every day
Forget that I've the right of way
And not the fools who dare sashay.

Michael said...

"Contingency reserve fund" is indeed a nice, cpa-ish name. But it is superior in usage to the "Standby Contingency Reserve Fund" which, in turn, is superior to the "tier one standy contingency reserve fund" which naturally is followed by the tier two standy contingency reserve fund.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Apologies to all Madisonians; but if this plan goes through, I hope the day after the bikes are purchased sees about 3 feet of snow dumped on the city. Then another three feet the next week, and then another, until the budget for salting and plowing is exhausted. And then 3 more feet after that.

And maybe then someone in the Council will finally realize what reserve funds are for.

Sixty Grit said...

Bike sharing? I know what's mine. You can buy my bike, but you may not share it.

Meade said...

Look, all you self-styled so-called Conservatives from your backwater podunk little cities and towns, you don't want a bike-sharing program? Fine. Here in our world-class city of Madison, Wisconsin we will decide for ourselves, through our own democratic republican form of local government. We'll do things our way - you do things your way.

But check it out. Summer vacation? Come on up to Madison! Summer here is as beautiful as winter is - lakes, parks, biking and hiking trails, cafes and great restaurants, hotels, cultural events, botanical gardens, beer and brats.

And if you don't want to lug your own bike all the way up here, don't worry - we'll rent you a nice well-maintained Wisconsin Trek.

Bring the old folks and the kids. We're family friendly!

David said...

AJ Lynch said...

"A lot? Anecdotal- please quantify how many Canadian Francs are in a lot?"

And while you are at it, quantify the number of Canadian Francs in a Canadian Dollar.

shana said...

London's shared bikes ARE nice, but of course London's about sixteen times larger than Madison so it's easy to ride from one densely populated area to another. Plus a private company (a bank! Horrors!) was brought in to defray costs.
A more relevant lesson would be my hometown, Charlottesville, VA, where the government-run free bike program was scrapped because all the bikes were stolen within a couple of weeks. Now a guy runs it fixing old bikes in a garage and everybody's happy.

Calypso Facto said...

Here's my alderperson's response (IN TOTO) to my email of concern about this issue:

"Thanks for taking the time.
Judy"

I'm thinking Judy wants a new bike. But maybe voters will give her a new job.

Paul said...

Building a bike system to be like toronto is different from a cargo cult how?

Doug Sundseth said...

First, the only way I'd believe that any survey showed a 43% replacement of car trips by city-owned bicycle trips is on a survey with a sample size of 7 taken between 10:30 and 10:35 on a Wednesday morning right in front of the Denver Public Library. "Three of them said so; that's 43%!"

Second, in Denver the bicycles are rentals*, requiring a membership card swipe at rental time (per my wife, who works a couple of blocks from the DPL central branch). I think it's quite likely that the business is losing money, since it's run by the city, but at least it's not a "free bikes" program.

* Covered by the membership fee for the first half hour, with a rapidly rising per-hour price thereafter.

Jarrett said...

Now now, kids, just because it's silly to equate being a world class city with free bikes doesn't mean there's not a good libertarian reason to support *a* program like this. If not, you know, the one THEY're proposing.

1) There are no helmet laws, at least none that are enforced. If you fall and crack your head open, that's really too bad but you're a grownup and you should've bought your own health insurance to cover it. Too bad for you. (Realistically, part of the convenience about having bikes located in easy accessible spots for the public is that you DON'T have to haul your bike (and its gear) around with you.) Helmet laws defeat the purpose.

2) The bike subscription is covered by a credit card. Steal the bike, get the bill. The kind of subscription you get determines what kind of overcharges you get if you don't return the bike in time (like cell phone minutes). I also think they could account for market issues by charging more to take bikes from certain stations at different times (e.g. in Paris they found that bikes are taken out from the periphery in the morning into the core, and vice versa in the evening).

3) They don't give "free" bikes - that was a program from Amsterdam in the 60s and 70s and it was an utter disaster. These are like, "Bikes to rent for a small annual fee, when you want them." To use an analogy, this isn't "Starbucks will give you free coffee," so much as "Pay an annual fee, get coffee from Starbucks whenever you damn well want."

4) The bikes are pretty hard to steal effectively when they're rooted in their stations. Most of the thefts as such are from bikes chained up with the chain, because anyone with bolt cutters can get at them. The real trouble in Paris is in the poorer areas where "youths" set whole scores of them on fire in their stations. But that's what insurance is for. And thankfully, the United States isn't like France in the way it treats minorities.

5) The entire operation is more or less **revenue-neutral** thanks to capitalism, at least where I was living in France (not Paris). They cover almost all the cost with a major advertising conglomerate, which pays a premium for space right next to the bike stands. Hippies in the US usually forget that part, even if it's a large part of why those programs run. It doesn't hurt that their standards of decency are lower. One ad by the station near my apartment was, "Sophie Depardieu is going to show you her tits". But I digress.

6) The companies involved - in freaking FRANCE - are almost exclusively private sector subcontractors.

There are ways to make the program work from a pro-capitalist, pro-growth, libertarian approach. Whether they're properly embraced by the program's supporters is another question. Supporters, for instance, say that they reduce auto traffic, but mostly the users are people who are using them as an alternative to public transit over shorter distances. Pretty much by definition, if the place is dense enough to merit a bike station, it's dense enough that you'd want to avoid it by car.

Incidentally, I'm always amused when people make snide remarks about Europeans. Europe has an enormous number of problems, but a good idea is a good idea. Most of you are presumably small government types. What is so wrong about being able to smoke in public, drink hard liquor in public, ride a bike without a helmet, and (in the case of Germany) drive as fast or as slow as I damn well please, patronize a prostitute (in the case of Germany or Holland), or buy pornography openly advertised advertised on the side of a news-stand by city hall?

bandmeeting said...

What is so wrong about being able to smoke in public, drink hard liquor in public, ride a bike without a helmet.......

I agree and up you by stating that the anti-bike hysteria voiced (yelped?) by the avowed conservatives here sounds very much like some sissy liberal trying to outlaw any and everything that they don't like, understand or agree with. "I don't like that so it should be illegal."

As an aside, I'd like to add how fucking tired I am of having to go to the Google Account page to reset my password. Is there some reason for this?

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

bandmeeting said...

I agree and up you by stating that the anti-bike hysteria voiced (yelped?) by the avowed conservatives here sounds very much like some sissy liberal trying to outlaw any and everything that they don't like, understand or agree with. "I don't like that so it should be illegal."

Not in my case. In my case -- and I believe this is well-stated in Professor Althouse's post -- I find this to be a horrible misuse of a "contingency reserve fund". As a taxpayer, when I see a line like that in the budget, I think unexpected snow removal, road repair, disaster relief, police and fire overtime, etc. I don't think "Hey! We found some money! Let's buy stuff!" If it's just a slush fund, call it that. Or be polite, and call it a discretionary fund. But this is bait and switch.

Also, it's not hysteria to point out potential failures in the system, or to cite historical examples of such failures. Is it hysteria when Dejean cites examples? "Hysteria" sounds like some sissy liberal trying to discredit an argument when you can't dispute it.

wv: supeleg. What everyone in Madison will have from all the bike riding.

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