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Bike Sharing: The Utter Lunacy of City Planning

Written by Gary North on November 23, 2012

City planners in Atlanta and Chicago are considering the feasibility of bicycle sharing.

This gives you some idea of where your tax dollars are going: to give lifetime careers to people who are truly out of touch.

If there is a market for this service, the city planners need not get involved.

I can see it on a college campus. College kids are young, ready to try new things, and above all, poor. They don’t have discretionary income. So, they might share rides.

Atlanta is considering bike lanes. It is considering financing a study on the feasibility of such a program.

City planners are never content with letting the free market work. They don’t wait for the free market to determine what is feasible and what is not. No, they have to allocate money for a study.

Anyone with an IQ above 90 and any experience in Atlanta knows this: people like cars. They don’t like bicycles. They don’t like riding in the rain. They don’t like being run over. They don’t like running into car doors that open unexpectedly.

If someone wants to ride a bike, why can’t he just buy one? A used one. A low-tech used one. Where is there evidence that people living in a city are so poor that they need to rent a bike?

Why not just call a cab?

When half of the city planners ride rented bikes to work, I will take seriously the feasibility of bike renting. I won’t need a feasibility study.

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20 thoughts on “Bike Sharing: The Utter Lunacy of City Planning

  1. "people like cars."

    Be careful with this. People are heavily incentivized toward autos because of easy auto credit and road creation oriented aimed at auto use. The market has responded in accordance with state interference with the transport industry.

    Do we know if people would use cars as heavily if the auto industry (and complimentary industries) wasn't subsidized?

  2. Jay: come on. The auto industry has nothing to do with this. Do you like riding a bike in the rain, snow, or 100 degree heat?
    Nobody does. So, yes, we do know that people would use cars just as much whether or not it was subsidized.
    Common sense dictates that.

  3. I ride in those conditions. So yes, at least one person prefers that.

    Read my comment carefully. I didn't say explicitly that Atlantans do not prefer vehicles, I'm saying _we cannot know_ (via the fatal conceit fallacy) because the market is heavily invaded already. It's gamed in favor of autos at the outset, through subsidized road creation, easy auto loans, zoning laws that separate labor areas from residential areas. The list goes on.

    This goes for every market where the high degree of state presence is felt. To presume market outcomes is the folly of central planners, not people with laissez faire 101 presumptions, which I assume you do have.

  4. kirk Hogan says:

    FROM THE ARTICLE: "It is considering financing a study on the feasibility of such a program." Even Considering a study, Atlanta has the shoe on the wrong foot. One has to wonder just how many other cities have done 'feasibility' studies on bicycles, bike paths, and Atlanta's most recent foray into a truly bizarre approach. Quit re-inventing the wheel and find out what someone ELSE did about it. I am reminded of Bert Gummer's solution in TREMORS II about the fifty dollar solution to the graboids: A radio-controlled car…and 1/2 lb. of TNT.

  5. Here in Minnesota we have a program called Nice Ride. I've seen lots of these ugly, neon-yellow bikes parked in racks around the Twin Cities, but only once or twice have I ever seen anyone actually riding them. The program costs the user $65 per year, plus extra costs for rides lasting longer than 30 minutes, so I don't understand why a person wouldn't just purchase a used bicycle.

  6. Our city has bike lanes and mandates that office buildings provide lockers and showers for bicycle commuters. Nobody uses them. It is too dangerous and inconvenient…too much auto traffic and the hassle of carrying work clothes, etc. I am a cyclist but for recreation not commuting.

  7. AmericansRon2U says:

    Gee, then why didn't all those folks in NYC and NJ hop on their bikes after superstorm Sandy to get to a shelter? When they were complaining about no food and water being available, why didn't they get on their bikes and go to the nearest city or state that had those necessities? Oh, could it be because it's too much trouble and highly impractical? If you want to own a bike instead of a car, brace yourselves for your own demise, America. This is all part of Agenda 21 and it is designed to control "we the people" by stuffing us into metro areas with cramped apts. and high speed rails….say goodbye to your homes and cars and suburban living! If a natural disaster occurs, you'll all be trapped rats…that's the plan. Look it up for yourselves.

  8. agenda 21 coming to a town near you. their is another reason for bike trails so some studying and find out what you can about these trails.

  9. strangerinmyownland says:

    I'm in my 60s; bad knees; wear a suit to work. I sometimes need to run errands during the day and carry files, etc. with me. You preferences (really – not tolerate, but prefer) are not truthful. Road creation is a basic market reality- you know, farm to market; raw materials to factories; finished goods to distributors to warehouses- that kind of reality.

  10. strangerinmyownland says:

    Portland, Oregon, has been deferring basic road maintenance in favor of bike lanes. Portland has tried shared bicycles–they keep disappearing. Duh.

  11. … Sad to say that you’ve clearly banged into a few too many open car doors already Jay DiNitto.

  12. I'm not sure what you're saying. It's a market reality, but it's heavily distorted because of state interference. We don't know what customer's "real" preferences would be.

  13. Jay: I read what you said. You asked if people would use cars if they weren't subsidized. I stand by my answer that, apparently besides you, nobody likes showing up to places sweating, stinking, and/or covered in rain or snow.
    It just isn't practical for 95% of the citizenry. So, yes, people most certainly WOULD still use their cars, subsidized, or no.
    We agree to disagree.

  14. They disappeared in Fresno, California …years ago.

  15. I lived in Belgium before WWII when there were few cars. Only doctors, lawyers, merchants had a car. The rest went on bicycles. Of course, much smaller cities. In those days, plenty of bicycles, never put a lock on a bicycle. Today's traffic may make it less safe on a bike. Yet I still think that the car should not be used for short distances in good weather. Maybe not so safe in very big cities. But I feel that outside of big cities, a bicycle can often be very useful, safe money, and healthier. As youngsters, we sometimes drove 40 km. to visit the city of Antwerpen and 40 km back. My longest distant in one day was 165 km. How far is it for you to a big park ?

  16. This kind of thinking is grounded in reality. They know what legal and illegal immigration is doing and this kind of stuff makes them bright thinkers to the new colonization taking place in the US. Tout is an example of people excepting that only the few should have extra time and convenience. No matter how consciences a nation of people are as a whole are.
    The US has had a birth rate under replacement levels for the past 30 years yet swelled another 100 million at the same time. Legal and illegal immigration, keep ignoring it and focusing on things, though true will not be changed as the numbers leave you as the few and not matter in the end. http://www.numbersusa.com / http://www.goooh.com

  17. barb patton says:

    What a load of rubbish – all that money being wasted for nothing. Top heavy government has really gone ape sh@t over trivialities. Enough already.

  18. NAX777 People hurry in a car. Then, coming home, they go on an exercise bike in their room, looking at what ? T.V. ? My father had a car. There were not many in our small city in 1935. Still chose to join the scouts in riding the 165 km. to the see, while my family went by car. With a friend we did in 4 days; Turnhout-Bree; then Liege, Leuven, Turnhout. I was nearly 19 when I asked my father for the first time if I could take a drive with the car. I regret, but do not understand what you mean in your answer.

  19. Bike sharing and bike lanes are a total waste of time and money. The rush/push to implement this type of boondoggle is a result of the U. N. Agenda 21 initiative. The goal of this initiative is to remove people from the land, abolish private ownership of property and force everyone into urban areas where there will be no modes of transportation that uses carbon based fuels allowed. This initiative is being force fed to Americans at the state and local levels by regulation of land and water use with names like "sustainable development" and "open spaces".

    Don't respond to my post and call me a conspiracy theorist, instead use the time to learn a little about it. Start here http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/. All this "planning" is aimed at transferring wealth from rich counties to poor countries in the form of fines, fees and taxes with the long range goal of removing human impact from the planet by population control and the elimination of any human activity that impacts the environment, use your imagination here, if CO2, carbon dioxide, is now considered a pollutant and we exhale it…draw your own conclusions here, despite the fact that plants and trees require CO2 to survive. The point of Agenda 21 is total, global control of everything by the environmental mafia.

  20. So you disagree with the assertion of free market/Austrian economists that we don't know what consumers would choose if the state removes itself from an industry, that there wouldn't be a plurality of preferences? Gotcha.