Bike me, please

Just yesterday, while planning a trip to the other side of downtown, I was wondering when the heck are we going to get some community bikes that I can jump on, ride across town, and leave for the next person to use?

This morning I got the answer: May. SURGE and the ReCyclery are planning to introduce a community bike program during national Bike to Work Week, May 15-19.

John Herrera proposed a program like this during his re-election campign in Carrboro last fall. But I haven't heard anything since...



Wayne and James, maybe this would be suitable safety gear?

Here's a story from yesterday's Herald-Sun on the topic-

Thanks, Tom. I heard about it on WUNC, but I haven't look at today's papers yet.

A community bike program will either serve as a model for other towns or fall into immediate disarray. As with similarly ambitious projects, I wonder about funding, logistics, and administration (a biggie). Safety issues too. BYOH (bring your own helmet)?

A community bike program was fairly successful in Copenhagen...for a while at least. Here's some info on that and other community bike programs:

The article says that helmets are included with bike rental, Catherine. I think the model of memberships and check-in spots around town sounds good. It solves the perennial question of how to prevent theft and damage to bikes. It also means that the locations of the "hubs" where bikes are kept will be very important!

When my brother lived in Amsterdam they had an alternative method. Everyone owned the same black bike. If someone took yours, you just grabbed the nearest black bike and off you went. It ticked off the expats, who had to have a few $500 bikes stolen before they switched to the $20 black bike.

So, maybe saturation is the issue.

Wearing a helmet is at odds with the concept of hopping on a relatively crummy and unknown bike to make a short utilitarian trip. Is using the bike a simple thing to do in safety, or is it something that is dangerous and thus requires protection? Further, who is going to carry their own helmet on the walking or driving trip to access such a bike? Alternatively, who is going to put on a used helmet supplied with the bike? Eweee.

Finally, putting on a 1/2 inch of styrofoam offers the impact protection equivalent of your head (no body attached) falling from a height of about 4 feet. It's minimal. It's a shame to see inept bicyclists thinking they are safe because they wear a helmet, while they engage in abberant and unskilled behavior that puts them at risk of a collision that exceeds the modest protective capacity of the helmet.


Oh, please.

The issue of helmet effectiveness actually merits some serious discussion - it will obviously have a bearing on, for example, the legal liability of the organizers of any community bike scheme. Wayne may have a point - I have heard of instances where the introduction of safety devices has resulted in riskier behavior, sometimes outweighing the benefits. There is some advantage to actually feeling oneself at risk. Does anyone know of real data on this?

If you are going to whack your head, you'd rather have a helmet on (unless you are self mutilating). That said, they are way less effective than they are promoted to be.

"Courage for your head" - promotional slogan of a major helmet manufacturer.


Anyone wanting to use a bike on Hanna St has free access to mine. It's been on the porch since I got my car fixed and I got an exercise bike for my wife so that the dogs don't bother her when she exercises.

In order for the bike program to succeed, it needs inventory. We have a pile of old bikes under the house.

Off to the ReCyclery we go... might as well support the cause and see what happens.


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