$8,000 per bicycle? Where do these people shop?
Add it up. We're not getting nearly enough bikes for the bucks.
There's much to like about Pittsburgh's impending bike-share program, slated to debut next summer. The initiative is environmentally friendly, could help reduce traffic congestion and, let's face it: Some of you folks who are overly reliant on pierogies and pilsner as dietary staples could use the exercise.
The program will make available 500 bikes at 50 docking stations strategically placed throughout the city. The plan for people to rent them in 30-minute increments might need tweaking. Unless you're in good shape, you probably couldn't bike from the South Side up to Mt. Washington that quickly without taking the Monongahela Incline, which defeats the purpose of renting a bike.
The program's primary problem isn't the proposed brevity of its trips but its $4 million cost that public and private sources will pick up.
Granted, that amount includes constructing and maintaining the docking stations. Still, do the math. Putting just 500 bikes on the street is going to cost $4 million. That's $8,000 per bike.
Does that seem pricey to you? It should if you've ever walked by the Target bike section, even if you're just passing through on your way to housewares and not fully paying attention.
Target's website on Tuesday advertised a Huffy 26-inch bike whose steel frame appeared durable enough for consistent use in a sharing program. Its wide seat is said to provide ample cushion. It comes with a cup holder and handlebar bag, and its adjustable storage rack seemingly would make it ideal for quick errands.
The bike costs $169.99. Even factoring in sales tax, $4 million could buy about 20,000 of those babies — or about 19,500 more than the city program will offer.
Docking stations weren't considered in the above theoretical expenditure because there's no need to build them. The city already has countless potential docking stations. They're called sidewalks.
A better bike-share program might work by doing nothing more than scattering 20,000 new bikes on various street corners. People could claim them as needed, ride them to their destination and leave them there to await the next person who needs to bike somewhere. With bikes crisscrossing the city every day, it shouldn't be difficult to locate one.
A similar system was attempted in the Netherlands in the mid-1960s and admittedly ran into some problems. Within a month, most of the bikes had been either stolen or thrown into canals. But the program organizer recalled in a 2008 interview with a British newspaper that only about 10 bikes were used in the failed experiment.
If Pittsburgh's streets were flooded with bikes, theft probably wouldn't be an issue. There simply would be no need. (That also explains why the rich so seldom rob each other at gunpoint in the country club coat room. What would be the point?)
Having 20,000 bikes available certainly provides more bang for the buck than 500. Disagree if you want, but please be courteous if you do. You shouldn't get all huffy.
The bike-share program, on the other hand, should get all Huffy.
Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates trade for Mariners LHP Happ, Dodgers 1B/OF Morse
- Steelers notebook: Officials discuss new game ball procedures
- Pirates place Burnett on 15-day disabled list
- Hurdle: Soria likely to assume setup role with Watson
- Armstrong escapee caught; murder charges pending
- Gameday: Pirates at Cincinnati, Aug. 1, 2015
- Police: Lincoln-Lemington burglary suspect shoots self during foot chase with police
- Allegheny County DA’s office: Photo of staffer with gun evidence violates protocol
- MLB notebook: Mets boost lineup, acquire Cespedes from Tigers
- Heyl: Longtime disc jockey Jimmy Roach to turn dismissal into brighter times
- West Kittanning church marks 100 years of ups and downs