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Thursday, December 23, 2010

San Francycle: Crazy Chronicle and Crazy Bikesharing

Posted By on Thu, Dec 23, 2010 at 10:55 AM

click to enlarge sanfrancycle_thumb_560x120.jpg

Oh my stars, what a crazy week for bicycles. Crazy good and crazy bad. Let's start with the bad first, because we predict that complaining will be HOT HOT HOT in 2011!

A comedy magazine called The San Francisco Chronicle wrote a diary entry this week about bikes that is just absolutely bonkers. It paints a portrait of a city gripped by bedlam, with bicyclists and motorists at each others' throats like it's Thunderdome. It's hard to make fun of the article because it's already so exaggerated: a "free-for-all," with no respect for the law, no protection for anyone, a "no-rules environment."

Also, the Chronicle says, the city's network of bike lanes is "little-known." If only there was a major metropolitan daily to report on such issues!

Anyway, ridiculousness aside, the article does correctly observe that there is a tension between bikes and cars on the street. That's only natural when you're asking two very different forms of transportation to share the same path. Roads were built for cars, alas, and the solution isn't paint: it's a complete rebuild of the streetscape, with physically separated lanes that keep bicyclists and pedestrians safe. And, where possible, eliminating cars altogether. They're simply unethical. But the Chronicle feels that more eduction and law enforcement and punishment is the solution, because that is the Chronicle's solution to everything. Just like the principal from Rock 'n' Roll High School. Well, good luck with all that. Now, until we can rip up all of our streets and replace them with bikeways, there's a simple solution that doesn't involve issuing more tickets: Drivers can take a deep breath and pause two seconds to let the bike go ahead of them. You're in a car, for heaven's sake; what does it cost you to wait until the bike is out of the way? A few seconds? Oh boo freaking hoo. It's not good enough that you're able to travel at high speeds, in a comfortable chair, in a quiet climate-controlled cabin with lots of cargo space, with no more physical exertion than slightly tilting your ankle? Stop honking and chill the hell out. And in other CRAZY bike news, we got a little preview of what the regional bike share will look like this weekend. A station in Civic Center presented options by three companies: B-cycle, Alta Bikeshare, and Berkeley-based BikeLink. Check out the in-depth coverage over at the Appeal and Public Press. Each company at this weekend's showcase had a variety of pluses and minuses. B-cycle bikes have lots of fancy compu-gear, but also cost a lot to replace. Alta Bikeshare lets you jet over to another kiosk if all the parking slots are full. And BikeLink can hook into existing bike corrals.

Bike Sharing Demonstration from SF Public Press on Vimeo.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which endeavors to herd the various transit systems around the Bay Area, will choose a vendor in the next few months. And then it'll take about a year to spend the $8 million to build the infrastructure necessary for the temporary pilot program. Of course, "temporary pilot program" is San Francisco code for "hopefully we can just keep expanding this indefinitely." That's more or less what happened with the Pavement-to-Parks projects: a modest trial that was so instantly popular it became permanent. Will that happen with bike sharing? Maybe. If it does, you can bet that the Chron will be there to complain about how people aren't following the rules. Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly
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Matt Baume

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