Friday, April 13, 2012

More Coverage of Possible Bikesharing System

Is something similar to Capital Bikeshare coming to Grand Forks, North Dakota?
(Photo by Daquella manera under a CC-Attribution license.)

Today's editorial in the Herald has a few examples of similar systems (not just bikeshares) in place that are run by the government instead of the private sector and is generally supportive of the city considering (or even trying out) the idea.

The original story has already gathered over 80 comments, both for and against, but a number of those comments (as always) have to deal with the same tangential issues that always come up: how much the Alerus center cost, how bad the smell from Crystal Sugar is sometimes, and how people like to argue on the Internet.  I'm not going to count up the number in favor and against because I think the sample isn't representative; the official survey closes today at five and I'm hoping for results next week.

Interestingly enough, New York City is only slightly ahead of us on the bikesharing front and are choosing where to place stations for a July launch.  They are following Boston, Denver, and Washington, D.C. as another large U.S. city providing this service as a partnership with a private company.  University of California, Irvine (about half the number of students as Grand Forks has people) has their own system.

Wikiposedly (and I have not had time to check), government-run systems do require subsidies in one form or another, typically through advertising on the bikes or sharing stations, however these monetary costs can be made up in other ways that benefit all residents: less automobile congestion, more exposure to the outdoors, more exercise, a stronger sense of community and, most importantly, transportation options.  Add to this the strong support Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood has shown for cyclists and pedestrians, it seems like we may finally be entering an age where non-motorists can claim their space on the street as equal.

I'm not sure that bikesharing in Grand Forks will work, but the fact that we're even looking into it is good news.  Who knows?  We could get something Fargo doesn't have.

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