AirTalk for June 27, 2013

Bike sharing in Los Angeles: Great idea or accident waiting to happen?

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A man rides a Citi Bike in New York City. Citi Bike, the bike sharing program that launched over the Memorial Day weekend in New York, provides 6,000 bikes. Is it a good idea for Los Angeles to have the same kind of bike sharing program?

A public bike-sharing program for L.A. has hit a snag, according to the Los Angeles Times. The O.C. company tasked with installing bike kiosks and the wheels as well, Bike Nation, had hoped to sell advertising on its wares. However, advertising space on "street furniture" was sold under a city contract to CBS Outdoor and JCDecaux through 2021.

Bike Nation owners were hoping to find a loophole in the deal. All this comes as New Yorkers are embracing or exorcising their new CitiBike bike-sharing program. It has proved more popular than anticipated, but critics complain of visual blight and inexperienced riders on famously hectic streets.

This snag for bike kiosks in Los Angeles has brought up a few questions: What is the future for Los Angeles bike sharing? What can we learn from such programs in NYC, Paris and London? Would you use the bikes, or steer clear?

Eric Bruins, Los Angeles County Bike Coalition planning & policy director, and Stephen Robert Morse, journalist and storyteller for Quirky.com (a product design company) & New York City bicycle commuter, join AirTalk to discuss.

Interview Highlights:

 

Eric Bruins on how bike-sharing is funded:
"There's a variety of ways that bike sharing is funded. There's a combination of government grants, air quality funds or like you see in New York where it is entirely basically a title sponsor. There's a variety of revenue streams that are possible. Bike Nation was looking at one, but they are going to have to change their focus."

Stephen Robert Morse on the potential dangers of bike-sharing:
"I've seen some decent cyclists (in New York City), but I've also seen some people who ride their bike the wrong way down the street. I've seen people blocking lanes. I've seen people who probably shouldn't be on a bicycle at all. I've seen many tourists who don't use helmets."

Bruins on the benefits of bike sharing:
"Bike share is really great for local trips. It's a great first-mile, last-mile -- if you take transit, say into downtown, but you need to run out for a lunch errand, it really fills that (void). If you have any weak links in your transit itinerary, bike share can help fill those gaps and help your entire day be car free."

Morse on his experience using a bike sharing service outside of New York City:
"I've ridden Citi Bike in Montreal and, for me, that was a totally amazing, positive experience. I was in Montreal for a month, and I did not need to buy a bicycle because they have Citi Bike everywhere. So, that was amazing. Yes, I believe that in New York the software glitches are pretty prominent. I don't know what they're doing to fix them. I assume they've devoted some resources to fixing the software glitches, but when compared to a place like Montreal where I did not ever have a software glitch and I was able to ride a bike multiple every single day. I can imagine that people are probably pretty frustrated with it here in New York."

Guest:

Eric Bruins, Planning & Policy Director, Los Angeles County Bike Coalition

Stephen Robert Morse, Journalist and Storyteller for Quirky.com (a product design company) & New York City bicycle commuter

With contributions by Nuran Alteir.


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