I had no idea this blog was so powerful, but a few days after I posted my somewhat critical take on Trek’s bike-share program, New York picked the other guys to run theirs.
Also, I meant to link to Letter From Here on B-Cycle.
I like bikes. I like cities that support bikes. But I don’t think I like Madison’s new B-cycle program. Before the program started, my understanding was that for a small fee, I could check out a bike at a station and drop it off at another station. Pretty useful if I needed to get quickly from place to place in town and didn’t have my bike with me. But no — in order to get on a bike at all, I have to purchase a “24 hour pass,” which costs ten bucks. But a 24-hour-pass doesn’t mean unlimited use of the bike for 24 hours — it just gives you the right to use the bike for half-hour trips. Any more than that — say, if you want to take the bike to a store, buy something, and return the bike, rather than just going station-to-station — and you’re on the hook for more money: $2 for the second half-hour, $5 for each half-hour after that. Who’s the market for paying $12 to run an errand by bike?
I can only think of two contexts in which this makes sense. If I were a tourist, I would certainly pay the $10 and do free rides from place to place in order to get around Madison quickly and without worrying about parking. As a local, I suppose if I thought I were likely to use the service a lot, I could pay $65 for an annual membership. But I suspect the per-use cost would end up being very high.
Bike advocates who get good use from these programs — explain to me what they’re for!
Update: Just to clarify for some commenters below — this program is private, operated by Trek, not (as far as I understand) subsidized by the city. Trek has B-cycle systems running in about a dozen cities, and in most of them the daily rate is $5 or $6 (though in San Antonio it’s also $10.) In Chicago there’s no daily pass at all, just a $5 minimum for a short ride. B-cycle is one of two finalists to run bike-sharing in New York; I wonder what they’re proposing to charge? In DC, which has a $5 minimum (different company), the service is apparently doing well; its 109 bikes made over 64,000 trips in March 2011. Of course, DC’s combination of masses of carless tourists and mediocre public transportation is hard to match elsewhere. But there are also 8,800 annual members, presumably locals; I wonder how many Madison has?
Re-update: Actually, it looks like these programs do involve some municipal money in most cities. Trek’s original proposal was that Madison would contribute $100K per year. Mayor Soglin’s counteroffer was “How about nothing? Is nothing good for you?”
Who’d have thought that the year the Orioles look to be heading for a last-place finish, their first since 1988, would be such a pleasure to watch? We are bad — yes. But we’re running last in the strongest AL East in memory, which with the current unbalanced schedule means we’re playing the hardest schedule in memory. And even so, we’re closer to .500 than we’ve been in ten years. We’ve scored just two fewer runs than we’ve allowed. We’re carrying a legitimate young star in Nick Markakis, and (though no one outside Baltimore has noticed yet) one of the 10 best pitchers in the league, in Jeremy Guthrie. We get to watch surprsingly great slugging from Aubrey Huff and Luke Scott, though they’re not part of the team’s future. And surpringly great set-up work from Jim Johnson, who might be. We shucked off old, expensive Miguel Tejada and middle-aged, expensive Erik Bedard, and, for once, we got legitimate talent in return.
The Bedard trade, to be sure, should have been completed by trading George Sherrill for something we need, like an unembarrassing shortshop; turning Bedard into Adam Jones and a major-league shortstop would be a real coup. And there must be something about Huff’s contract I don’t understand, because it’s hard to imagine there wasn’t a contending team willing to trade something valuable for a DH with the 7th-best OPS in the AL. Huff, Roberts, Sherrill, and Scott are all probably as valuable as they’re going to be — I like watching them play, I like that they’re Orioles, and I’d like to see them gone as soon as possible.
Some miscellaneous Orioles links I’ve been meaning to post:
1993 was the year Fernando Valenzuela pitched for the Orioles. Valenzuela, when he was 21, already had a Cy Young award and was going to be the pitcher of our time, but by 1993 he was seven years past his last winning season. For some reason he came to Baltimore, and he had another losing season. But he brought a bit of noble twilight to the team, a team which was, all in all, a perfect mix of nobly twilit old guys (Valenzuela, Rick Sutcliffe, Harold Baines), young guys who hadn’t found themselves (Mike Mussina, Arthur Lee Rhodes, Jeffrey Hammonds), and, maybe most importantly, middle-aged, middle-talented guys who picked that year to have great seasons which they must have known they would never again equal (Chris Hoiles and the incomparable Jack Voigt). It was somewhat shocking to me to look up the statistics and see that the Orioles were actually pretty good that year, and finished in a tie for third. My memory of that team is Valenzuela losing in the late afternoon.
Also, the Orioles are bike commuters. I give you Jeremy Guthrie:
“I hate cars, I hate driving, I hate doing something I don’t have to do. For me to drive downtown is a waste of gas; it’s a waste of my time. I can ride faster than I can drive.”