Happy Memorial Day, Portland. As you might have noticed, Jonathan and I will be serving up bike-related reporting for the next two weeks by way of a transcontinental tag-team. Let’s start things off with the national bike news that caught our eyes in the last week.
New York City’s long-awaited CitiBike sharing system launched today, and it’s the talk of the town and the bike world in general. With 14,000 annual memberships presold at about $100 apiece, it’s poised to be the biggest win yet for Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share, which operates the systems. Here are some interesting tidbits from this week’s coverage of CitiBike:
— The New York Times showed how the modern bikeshare system was invented in Paris, improved in London, priced in DC and built on station hardware from Montreal. In another piece, the paper reports that experts seem to agree that bikesharing will be remembered as the key achievement of Michael Bloomberg’s 12 years of transportation reforms. “If this is the playoffs, what’s the finals?” says Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “As far as I’m concerned, we’re there.”
— The bikeshare-hating New York Post apparently assigned three reporters to this interview with a bike rental shop owner who’s worried he won’t be able to rent bikes to tourists for $30 per day if the rack just outside lets tourists pick them up for $10 per day. Also, a group of citizens is protesting NYC’s removal of a public art space to make room for a bikeshare station.
— Bikes are the subject of WNYC’s interview with NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, who once said he’d have ribbon cuttings to “tear out” bike lanes if he ever became mayor. Now, with polls saying that 60 percent of the population likes the lanes, Weiner says that was a joke. He also holds up his own new CitiBike key.
— If bikesharing is a new form of public transit, it’ll have to get used to being regulated like other public-sector enterprises. In These Times looks at whether Alta’s Capital Bikeshare is underpaying workers in Washington, DC.
— Boston Magazine looks at the bike helmet vending machines being introduced at some Alta bikesharing systems.
In other bike news:
— In California, the Gilroy Dispatch profiles Robert Egger, creative director of Specialized Bicycle Components, whose innovative designs are part of a mission to make his company “the Apple of the bicycle industry.”
— In Afghanistan, where riding a bike while female is usually seen as “a marker of promiscuity … on the cultural offenses index somewhere between driving and being spotted with an unrelated man,” a group of bike-loving Afghani women have launched a national women’s cycing team.
— In the Huffington Post, the former chief planner of Vancouver BC thinks cities can adjust to the growing desirability of urban neighborhoods by talking less about “preventing gentrification” and more about creating “shared neighborhoods” — sort of the way we talk about “compete streets.”
— Mainstream coverage of the recent Transportation for America report on the national decline in driving, especially among young people, continues to ripple. “The number of carless households could reach 10 percent this year or soon afterwards,” notes NBC News — and that doesn’t even include the fast-growing popularity of one-car households.
— Streetsblog DC has a Q&A with “one-woman media empire” Elly Blue, the Portland-based writer on bicycles and feminism and former managing editor here at BikePortland.
— The Portland Tribune has great news about Walgreens’ pick-up windows, following up on our report two weeks ago: “From now on Walgreens employees everywhere will be told to serve drive-up customers who are on bikes.”