Metro motion rethinks bikeshare system, Flax says sharrows are bullshit, and McSweeney’s says fuck you, I’m a cyclist

Metro is rethinking their bikeshare program.

Which could be a good thing.

A board motion submitted LA Councilmember Paul Krekorian, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, County Supervisor Shiela Kuehl and Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval proposes a number of changes to the Metro Bike system, in part to address theft of the bikes.

Currently, Metro only has 38% of the total original fleet remaining in operation. Metro Bikes have been targets of theft, and rates of fleet loss ebb and flow as new methods of theft are discovered and addressed. The Metro Bike Share team has increased efforts to recover lost and stolen bicycles but this is not sustaining the fleet and the program does not have an established fleet replenishment strategy. As a result, fewer Metro Bikes are available for use, which degrades the quality of service available to the public.

Although I’d think having nearly 40 percent of the original bikes still in operation after five years is pretty damn good.

Regardless, the five are requesting that the Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins report back in 90 days on a number of proposed changes, most of which have nothing to do with addressing bike theft.

A. An action plan to stabilize the current fleet size including actions for how to identify, prioritize, and address new mechanisms of theft as they arise.

B. An action plan to address equitable access in the current program and in any future form of the program. This plan shall include recommendations on issues such as serving people who may be unbanked, addressing the digital divide, and keeping fare cost low.

C. A plan to provide uninterrupted service as the next iteration of the program is determined and executed.

D. A plan to convene an industry forum (as was performed for Metro Micro) to bring together academics, cities with existing bike share programs, community stakeholders, and industry experts to provide recommendations on advancing Metro Bike Share beyond the current contract in one of several forms including but not limited to

  • Continuing Metro Bike Share as a contracted service,
  • Operating the program In-house with Metro employees,
  • A private-sector model with financial subsidy provided by Metro.

E. Performing a market survey to identify best practices and business models among existing bike-share systems in the US, and comparable global systems (e.g., Paris, London, Barcelona, Madrid, and Mexico City), and to develop comparative data on subsidy cost per ride, total ridership, size of fleet, vehicle technology, theft and damage loss and prevention, and alternative financing sources like sponsorship and advertising.

F. Recommendations for continuing and evolving the Metro Bike Share program to meet the goals of the agency, with countywide stakeholder engagement and consideration of cost-sharing, with the goal of expanding service area and local participation to all subregions in the County. These recommendations should include eligible local, state, and federal funding sources for capital and operations budgets, as well as legislative opportunities to expand such funding eligibility.

All of these should be positives, if they’re carried out with a clear intention to maintain the bikeshare system and improve service.

Especially finding better ways to equitably serve low income communities.

As it stands right now, there doesn’t appear to be reason for concern. The question will be what form the response takes when Wiggins reports back in February.

That’s when we’ll want to give her recommendations a close look. And make sure the program is moving forward, not back.

Thanks to an anonymous source for the heads-up. 

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Somehow I missed this one from our friend Peter Flax, who politely proclaims that sharrows are bullshit.

But we haven’t even gotten to the suckiest part yet. These days sharrows are deployed as a bad-faith alternative to actually making roads safer for bike riders. In recent years, sharrows have become increasingly popular as cities try to balance calls from safety advocates to install quality bike lanes — you know, so folks feel more encouraged to ride and get killed a little less often — and grumpy motorists who don’t want to relinquish driving lanes or parking spaces for bike infrastructure. To the politicians and engineers stuck in the middle, sharrows seem like a devilishly perfect compromise — a way to placate the pro-car populists while still being able to claim you did something.

In short, they are perfect for city officials who care enough about safety to do the very least. There’s only one problem: Sharrows are make believe safety infrastructure.

By now, you probably already know my take.

That sharrows are nothing more than an attempt by transportation agencies to thin the herd, with little arrows painted on the pavement to help drivers improve their aim.

The best you can say is they offer a placemaking guide for people on bicycles, while showing riders where they should position themselves to control the lane.

If they’re placed correctly, that is.

And if riders feel comfortable in the middle of the lane in front of too often impatient and angry drivers.

Instead, you usually see people riding next to them on the right, increasing the risk of unsafe passes. If you see them at all, since many riders seem to prefer other routes that place them in less risk of getting run over.

Which is probably smart. Because as Flax notes, a 2018 study found that sharrows are actually worse than nothing when it comes to safety.

It’s worth taking a few minutes to read the whole thing.

Because he’s right.

Sharrows really are bullshit.

Thanks to Keith Johnson for the tip

………

Then there’s this bizarre, incomprehensible, and supposedly tongue-in-cheek screed from McSweeney’s.

It gets worse.

That was followed by this tweet from McSweeney himself, justifying the piece.

It’s a sure sign you missed the mark when you have to tell people something is funny.

Or when you have to say, no, really, we ride bikes, too.

Because it ain’t satire if it’s not funny.

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When is a protected bike lane not a bike lane?

When it’s a parking lot for government cops.

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Recently retired pro Tejay van Garderen had his own bikes stolen recently while moving to Denver.

So if you’re in the Denver area, keep an eye out for them. And it wouldn’t hurt to watch out wherever you are, because high-end bikes like these could turn up anywhere.

According to Jonathan Vaughters, that second bike is the one that put van Garderen in the white jersey signifying the best young rider in the 2012 Tour de France.

………

Love this photo that’s the very definition of fin de siècle style and cool.

Here’s what the tweet says, for those of us who are Español challenged.

Bicycles have remained remarkably the same for over 100 years, elegant in their efficiency and simplicity; the look of the cyclists has not changed much either.

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Another reminder of the exceptional efficiency of bike lanes.

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Tonight would be great for a not-so-moonlit ride, with the eclipse starting around 9 pm on the West Coast, and reaching it’s peak around 1 am, if you can get away from the coastal fog and clouds.

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Sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly. 

Singapore police are looking for a hit-and-run bicyclist who fled the scene after crashing head-on into woman on a bicycle.

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Local

Long Beach’s multi-modal, bike-commuting captain of the annual floating Christmas tree display is retiring after 39 years on the job, without a single day driving to or from work.

 

State

A 75-year old man was seriously injured when he was run down from behind by a driver while riding his bike on Cushing Road near San Diego’s Liberty Station; fortunately, his injuries aren’t expected to be life threatening.

 

National

Talk about a misguided take. A writer for the New York Times calls out “obscure” “fringe, niche” measures and “special interest breaks” included in the Build Back Better bill currently under consideration in the US House — like the not-so-obscure $900 tax rebate program for ebike purchasers, which has been openly discussed and debated.

The hometown paper in Grand Junction, Colorado, when my former Iditarod-mushing brother lives and rides these days, says there’s plenty more the city could do to make riding a bike a safer and more enjoyable experience. Pretty much like everywhere else.

Colorado police have busted an eight man bike theft ring responsible for $1.5 million worth of stolen bicycles; they face a combination of more than 200 charges.

Chicago Streetsblog calls out a Chicago-style hot dog stand for banning bikes from its drive-through. Although another Windy City hot dog purveyor says bikes are more than welcome at theirs.

A Cleveland TV station talks with several bike commuters about their safety concerns, including better infrastructure and getting more respect from drivers.

A 22-year old hit-and-run driver will now face a murder charge after a preliminary investigation showed he was speeding on his way to work, and high on weed, when he slammed into a six-year old Detroit boy just riding his bike across the street.

The Philadelphia Inquirer joins a mounting chorus saying the recently signed infrastructure bill may be big, but it won’t change America’s misguided focus on cars.

‘Tis the season. Alabama’s 91-year old “Bicycle Man” rescued and repaired 30 discarded bicycles for a holiday giveaway program for children in need.

The mother of the 14-year old Palm Beach, Florida boy who was found dead hours after leaving for a bike ride says he lost control and flipped his bicycle, and there was no foul play involved.

 

International

Treehugger rates the best cargo bike trailers of 2021.

Cyclist offers a beginner’s guide to every part that makes up a road bike.

Smart move. Montreal is setting up an online reporting system just for pedestrian and bicycle crashes in the downtown area, where most such crashes occur. Something we could use here, where police too often don’t even want to take a report unless someone is seriously injured.

In another step backward, the Swiss government is calling for mandating bike helmets for anyone over the age of 12. Before anyone gets upset, I never ride my bike without a helmet. But helmet laws have repeatedly been shown to be counterproductive, while giving police an excuse to target people on bicycles. And too often people of color and homeless bike riders.

What to give your favorite Philippine bike rider this holiday season.

 

Competitive Cycling

Slovenia’s Primož Roglič says he’s not the cycling Terminator everyone thinks he is.

 

Finally…

That feeling when you rescue a bike from the trash because it has the weirdest, coolest brakes you’ve ever seen. Nothing like a casual bike ride up an 18,000 foot Peruvian peak through two feet of snow.

And what’s the underwater equivalent of Viking Biking?

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.

One comment

  1. elok says:

    ‘grumpy drivers’, sounds kinda rich in 2021, when it’s motor vehicle traffic that’s a major cause of grumpiness, not just from cancelling put any silent moment, but also due to mass traffic making car sometimes less viable than bicycling or walking) Walking doesn’t get frustrating, mainly if so, time consuming, but after a while such automatically gets planned for,thus ceases being an ‘issue’, plus getting stuck in traffic doesn’t happen, unless relying on bus).

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