2/10/11

Capital Bikeshare is too popular. Woe are we.

That's the gist (but not really) of this piece on TBD. Or at least, that's what the TBD long story short synopsis of the article wants us to think. However, that's not what this article is saying at all. Sure, he mentions the difficulty of full or empty docks, but it's hardly a diatribe against poor system management by DDOT or Alta or an indictment of the system itself. Why it's written like the bikes are prostitutes or internet sex hookups, I don't really get. For example:
We both understood this was to be a one-ride relationship. If I happened to find myself on the seat of the selfsame cycle again, it would be happenstance, not providence. The bikes did not resent this. There are just shy of 1,000 of them in the District, after all, and the total will hit 1,100 once the remaining eight stations in the District’s initial order of 114 are installed, according to Chris Holden, the District Department of Transportation’s project manager for Capital Bikeshare. Current plans are for another 20 stations to be added by the end of 2011.
Even if I never let one of our dalliances go on for longer than 30 minutes (so as not to accrue any charges on top of the annual membership I’d purchased for the crazy-low introductory price of $50), the bikes never seemed to resent that our entire relationship was driven by my need to be somewhere else very, very soon — if not five minutes ago. I in turn abided their heaviness, their flaky kickstands, their not-quite-big-enough-for-my-gym-bag basket, their only-three-speeds. Nobody gets exactly what they want in a relationship of convenience. And our relationship was very convenient.
 I think that the piece is a bit more complicated than "too many people ride these bikes"- it's about how quickly one man has developed a dependency on the convenience and utility of a citywide bikeshare system that's both cheap and widely accessible, though one that could be better if it were more accessible. That's why he concludes with this:
I am a man of constant borrow. Since my Bikeshare key came in the mail in early October (accompanied by a free T-shirt!), seldom has a day gone by when I haven’t had at least one five-to-20-minute dalliance with a bike I might never mount again. On busy days, four or five such transactions are not unusual. No one’s tried to stage an intervention yet, but it’s clear I’m the one violating the Terms of Use in these casual relationships. I’ve committed the cardinal sin: dependence. I need these bikes a lot more than they need me. 
But, seriously, there are worse problems to have- like no bikesharing at all! 

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