The Answer To ‘Urban Cycling’s Ills’ Is BikeShare

Background Reading


Wave-style Bike Parking Rack

Wave-style Bike Parking Rack


You can tell it is not quite warm enough to keep the ‘whiners‘ on the Chicago ‘Whine and Jeez’ Club Cycling Forum from well, whining. The good thing is that they are sparing the automobile drivers their arrogant wrath and instead directing it all upon the hapless citizens of the city who are fellow bicyclists.



The recurring theme is that Wave-style Bike Parking Racks are being used improperly! The problem too is that these racks are being installed parallel to the sidewalk (which certain situations would place the front or rear wheels of bikes in the way of pedestrians traffic). And before you ask, ‘no, sidewalks are for walkers, not bicyclists‘. So anything that inconveniences the ‘intended and permitted users‘ of that thoroughfare should be considered ‘bad form‘.

But the consensus on this particular forum is that the Good Lord Himself is passing on the status of The Chosen to those who ride two wheels. So in many ways messing with their mornings is likely to bring down the ‘Wrath of God‘.

These folks have a Pope of Bicycle Heaven  and Church which I have dubbed the Church of Urban Cycling. One of their High Priestesses has decided that my pet name for this group is unworthy of them. So Ms. Sadik-Kahn has renamed them the Church of Sustainable Transportation. Fine, let’s run with that.

Like their cousins in the Tea Party they too have an End Times Eschatology that places them as the central figures in the Salvation of Mankind. Anyone who contradicts these notions is likely to find themselves banned from attendance on their forum. This is a big blow to anyone so inclined to fail to curry favor with them.

The Bigger Problems

If you think parking debates are zany try listening to them whine about the notion that:

  1. they need to adhere to a regimen of non-sidewalk riding,
  2. riding with lights,
  3. dressing to be seen,
  4. getting bicycle training and licensing,
  5. how best to use back racks,
  6. where parking should be placed so as to minimize the number of steps a cyclist needs to walk to reach their office building,
  7. which way the grates in drainage covers should run so that they cannot find themselves on the tarmac,
  8. whether or not wearing frilly dresses and high-heeled shoes with stockings was a good idea on a bike with clipless pedals,
  9. or whether when wearing those dresses male riders should trim their beards close enough not to frighten little children,
  10. and even that old bug-a-boo the bicycle helmet.

On these topics they are as much ‘Bible-Thumpers‘ as any Evangelical Christian member of the Tea Party. Listening to their lunacy reminds me of the days I spent debating my fellow classmates at Wheaton College.

It is quite interesting to consider that they are as likely to proselytize an Born Again Christian ever was. Perhaps even more so. If you want to get one of them revved up just ask whether ‘bike lanes are absolutely necessary‘ and then sit back and wait. I would prefer to have an Apple Watch on with it running an app that produced ‘smiley faces‘ ever time they said something stupid.

The Answer Is BikeShare

The entire situation could be resolved with one single act.

Make BikeSharemandatory for anyone wanting to use ‘Bike Lanes

BikeShare is what you know here in Chicago as Divvy. Here are some of the many problems it resolves immediately:

  • Divvy stations completely resolve the conflict over how to park a bicycle. You can only enter a bike ‘one way‘.
  • Mandatory Divvy use makes it more likely that the service will get enough users to make it sustainable. Right now BikeShare across the country is failing.
  • Divvy bikes can be equipped with transponders which give the traffic grid an understanding of who the red light and stop sign violators are. No need to create special license plates.
  • Divvy bikes having transponders would also make it possible to take a continual census of the size of the bicycling community. In fact you would know not only that there are a given number of riders out on the roads each day, but also their gender, age, ethnicity and general level of affluence.
  • Divvy BikeShare is cheapest when purchased on an annualized basis. This means that the city will get a chance to collect funds from cyclists which correspond in some degree to the Fuel Tax suffered by motorists.
  • Divvy bikes are equipped with both front and rear flashing lights which make them compliant with the current city ordinances.
  • Divvy bikes are serviced on a regular basis which means that those riding in the bike lanes are likely to have a bike that is roadworthy.
  • Because Divvy bikes can be equipped with wider tires it would save the City of Chicago money attempting to upgrade older drainage grates.
  • The City of Chicago could pass an ordinance that made non-Divvy bicycle parking illegal on sidewalks. This would help ‘encourage‘ others to take up the Divvy BikeShare Transportation Service.
  • Bicycle theft would be reduced to ‘near zero‘ because the docking system is nearly impervious to theft.
  • Vision Zero‘ is more likely with Divvy bikes because we already know that they are safer than their privately ridden counterparts. (At least that is what their own data purports to show.)
  • Divvy bikes have safety and convenience features like ‘kickstands‘ and ‘fender skirts‘.
  • Divvy bikes have more reliable braking systems than those using rim brakes.
  • Divvy bikes are more ‘visible‘ than their private counterparts and would be immediately recognizable by motorists.

It Is A Win-Win For The City

Everything about these bikes is wonderful when viewed in the context of a big city trying to provide both a boost in bicycle ridership while at the same time ensuring compliance with safety and roadworthiness regulations.

The only ‘downside‘ is the City Hall would have get the lapdogs of the Urban Cycling Movementon board‘ with the idea that something in life for even cyclists is mandatory.

But I am certain that you could convince these Advocacy Groups that being able to run the training sessions for those in need either of a refresher or a primer on commuting-by-bicycle would be enough to keep them in beer money for the entire year.

But let us not forget that Liberals are all about making sure that the most vulnerable in society have ‘good paying‘ jobs. Divvy is nothing if not a job creation machine. The skills involved for ‘load balancers‘ are somewhat limited. But both they and the ‘maintenance staff‘ are deserving of a job. This is especially true in black-and-brown neighborhoods where the unemployment rate is ‘sky-high‘. Why would anyone not be for making Divvy the primary bicycling mode in the City of Chicago?

To think otherwise would be a disavowal of all the ‘Liberal Blather‘ you deliver at every Slow Roll Ride.