|Reason TV correspondent Kennedy enjoying a ride on Capital Bikeshare.|
Now Reason TV and washed up former MTV VJ Kennedy are bullying bike sharing, in this case the wildly successful Capital Bikeshare program in the Washington, D.C. area. A recent video report makes a mockery of the Capital Bikeshare program as a wasteful subsidy for rich educated white kids.
I am not going to get into the nitty gritty details of where the money comes from and where it goes. For that, read this excellent Washington Post column. I will say this though, the government pours billions of dollars every year into highways, so when a federal grant is given to get Americans out of their gas-guzzling SUVs and onto a bicycle, groups like Reason throw a hissy fit.
As a Capital Bikeshare member (and soon-to-be Citi Bike member when I move to New York City next month) I can tell you that the Capital Bikeshare program has changed the culture of D.C. to a more bike friendly city. When I was growing up in the D.C. area I used to ride my bike downtown during rush hour and it was an adventure to say the least. It was usually me and a few extreme bike messengers dodging traffic. There were no bike lanes and the bike messengers didn't wear helmets and often times blew through traffic signals and disobeyed traffic laws. And angry drivers would get frustrated and take it out on the bikers. There was a lot of hostility in the air between bikers and drivers. And the perception of what a biker looks like took the form of a young, aggressive, extreme sports male bike messenger.
Fast forward to the second year after the Capital Bikeshare program was launched and positive changes are everywhere. There are more bike lanes. There are tourists and women and minorities hopping on the shiny red bikes. There are bike sharing stations in black neighborhoods, white neighborhoods and into the suburbs. Drivers are generally more aware and courteous (although D.C. cabbies and some drivers can still be very hostile to bikers) and the perception of bikers has changed from an extreme bike messenger to a young professional in a suit and tie or a tourist from Kansas in a fanny pack and FBI t-shirt rolling around town in those bright red shiny bikes.
So the cultural shift to a more bike friendly city is undeniable, even to an anti-government nutwing like Kennedy. And bike sharing is a global movement. Just this past summer I was in London, Brussels, Berlin, Paris, Barcelona and Tel Aviv -- all cities with bike sharing programs.
It will be interesting to see how the Big Apple adapts to bike sharing. My view is that, just as in D.C., there will be challenges and obstacles, but that Citi Bike, like in D.C., will grow faster than anticipated and be incredibly popular. Like in the D.C. area, every jurisdiction will be competing as hard as they can to bring bike sharing to their communities.
Bike sharing is here to stay and is a wonderful example of public spending playing a positive role in society to better the lives of citizens and improve the environment. So take that Reason and Kennedy.