Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Continued Unprofitability of Bikeshare Programs


As longtime readers will know, I have a grudge against bikeshare programs.  I think they're bougie, and weirdly utopian, and a misuse of public dollars.  Well, U.S. News has a nice, short article that lays out the economic case against bikeshare.  Here's one thing I didn't know:

Bike sharing is costly because it requires more work than simply letting people ride and changing the occasional flat tire. One of the biggest operating costs involves trucking the bikes from full docking stations to empty ones. [. . .] "There's a significant problem with redistributing bikes, mainly in the peak direction at the peak hours, and outside of downtown in off-peak hours," he says. He also points out that in hilly cities, there can be a glut of bikes in lower-lying areas but scarcity at the tops of hills, where people are less likely to ride.

And, sure, I understand that lots of public transportation doesn't turn a profit.  But I'd much rather see the money that cities are throwing at bikeshare go toward stuff that will actually improve the lives of the urban poor - like building bus stop shelters or digital signs that could provide information about when buses will arive

Steve Clowney

(photo: Rathausmarkt Bus Station, Hamburg, Germany by Matt Yglesias)


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