Bike Share in Vancouver
I have watched with interest as a bike friendly city council has made great changes for cyclists all around Vancouver. They have angered many people who want to drive their cars unimpeded around the city and who resent any pedestrian or cyclist who gets in their way. Some of the most virulent protesters of their new bike paths would run down a cyclist who would slow them down on their way to their tower of power or when returning to their mansion in West Vancouver. But sometimes when you have to fight foolish resistance to change you also can push over the very people you are trying to help.
The bike share program is one of those things. It is based on lousy bikes, riding without helmets and will threaten many of the small business that make a living renting bikes. They have even engaged in myopic philosophic thinking, like attempting to influence provincial politicians to rescind helmet law so that it would help them attract tourists who may not want to mess up their hair by wearing a helmet when on one of the lousy bike share bikes. It goes something like this, “more people will ride if we let them ride without helmets which will end up with a healthier population even though a percentage will be brain damaged cycling head injuries.” I say do not rescind the law; …change it! If you want to ride without a helmet do it but if you are hurt you will not be covered by the provincial medical plan. I can just see desperate relatives rushing to the accident scene and trying to put helmets onto the smashed noggins of their freshly brain damaged kin to avoid the hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical bills coming their way.
Another part that I think stinks is the money. Local bike advocacy programs are offered city grants to tow the line and promote the bike share program. The city is putting up over six million dollars to set it up and are expecting to put in five hundred thousand a year to keep it running and that is if it is successful. My research has not found one successful bike share venture to date and some are complete financial disasters, underused and money sink holes.
I manage a bike rental system in a neighboring city, New Westminster. I am wary of city governments investing huge amounts to compete with my business while all the while telling me don’t worry be happy. Some of the rental shops in Vancouver are getting bike share pods right beside their businesses. We all operate on small profit margins and anything taking a few percent off our bottom lines will be fatal.
So like a happy bumbling idiot the city government of Vancouver got over excited with cyclist’s praise for putting in adequate bike paths and in that spasm of joy it squeezes to death those who make a living in the trade by putting in a bike share program. Idiots are not known for their discernment.
I will wear my helmet, not because of the law but because I am a responsible adult and I will do what I can to protect myself and the society I live in by not exposing them to my medical bills that I could have avoided by acting responsibly.