Tribune bike-share story questions fees and interest despite similarity to successful programs in other cities

Submitted by Rburke on Thu, 05/30/2013 – 12:07pm

Active Transportation Alliance

Active Transportation Alliance

The hundreds of thousands of happy bike share members in the United States and around the world might be surprised to learn how expensive and unpopular the bike-sharing program will be in Chicago, according to the story in today’s Chicago Tribune, “City’s new bike share program puts the pedal to overtime fees.”

The story questions whether businessmen will ride in suits to “save a couple of dollars on a taxi cab and possibly save a tree from pollution.” A lawyer is quoted saying nobody will sign up for bike share in Chicago. I suspect the 24,000 members of DC’s Capital Bike Share would disagree, and no doubt many ride in suits.

The Tribune rightly calls attention to modest over-time fees that kick in when bikes are checked out beyond 30 minutes, but it fails to mention that nearly all trips are under 30 minutes in bike share systems. 97 percent, for example, are under 30 minutes in DC.

The story raises fears about paying $1,200 for lost or stolen bikes (that’s how much the bikes cost), but fails to mention this is also rare. In 2 years, 15 bikes have been lost or stolen from Capital Bike Share.

Bike share members typically save hundreds of dollars each year on transportation, even if they occasionally ride longer than 30 minutes and pay overtime fees. You’re not paying for cabs, transit fare, parking, etc. The $75 annual fee is a bargain, and I can’t wait to have the bike share option for getting around Chicago.