Chicago Bike- Share Program
Kudos to Chicago for implementing a bike-share program this summer. What is a bike-share program? The idea is simple. There will be racks of bikes set up around Chicago that people can rent for a short period of time. You can even rent a bike from one rack and return it at another rack. How great will it be to jump on a bike at the train station and drive it (safely of course) to the office several blocks away? How great would it be to cut that commute time down a bit so you can spend more time with your loved ones?
The bikes, called Divvy Bikes, are adjustable and weigh about 45 pounds. They are said by some bike enthusiasts to be comfortable and sturdy. I’ve seen them and they look, for lack of better words, kind of cute.
I will not be surprised if Chicago experiences some controversy around this Divvy bike-share program. As with any new program, there will be people against it, some really against it. Chicago will not be the first city to implement this large-scale public bike sharing program. About 20 other cities and counties across the U.S. have these bike-share programs. New York City is one of them and as with just about anything new, there were (and are) people who were (and are) outraged because of it.
For instance, in New York, one such person who was outraged by the bike-share program and essentially said that the program was forced down New York’s throat by the “all-powerful bike lobby”. I guess everyone has their opinion – maybe these comments came from some little kid who was just shooting off his mouth, you might be thinking. No, it came from the Wall Street Journal’s Dorothy Rabinowitz, an editorial board member. She (and others) would have you believe that bike-sharing programs come from the sinister efforts the very large, well-funded and threatening bike lobby. Give me a break! What all powerful bike lobby? Don’t try and answer – there is none!
I completely support the bike-sharing program. Here are some reasons why Chicagoans should not be “appalled” at Chicago’s bike-sharing program, as Rabinowitz and others might want you to be:
- It will benefit the environment. Bikes do not produce emissions.
- It will probably be less expensive than using cabs, buses or cars.
- It is convenient. The thought of hopping off of the train, jumping on a bike and getting to my office in 10 minutes rather than 20 works for me. You?
- As there will be more bikes on the road, the bike riders will have a louder voice in traffic laws. Cyclists need better and more laws to protect them. Again, cyclists do not have the “all-powerful” lobby that some folks might irresponsibly tell you.
- We’ll have a healthier population. For the most part, most of the jobs downtown are sedentary. A bike ride here and there might be all the exercise some of us get.
- It gives tourists (and non-tourists) people the option of experiencing the beautiful city of Chicago by bike. Or do we want tourists (and non-tourists) driving around vehicles, eyes half on the road and half on the Willis Tower?
Now, I can’t say that Chicago’s bike sharing program will be flawless. It won’t be. Many of the people who use these bikes will do so without a helmet. Some of the stations may have to be moved because they may have been placed in an inconvenient spot. Also, there will be those who drive the bikes carelessly and put drivers, pedestrians and fellow cyclists in jeopardy. However, despite the flaws in this bike-sharing system, the pros far outweigh the cons. I will be welcoming the Divvy bike-share program with open arms. Bring it on!