Looking to DC for a model of bike sharing

The Sixth Square is WHYY’s arts and culture blog.  Culture can include a lot of things.

For example, Philadelphia has a thriving “bike culture.”  To some cycling approached a belief system while others pick up a bike every so often for a nice ride or to get some exercise and of course, many people fall somewhere between.

Those who count themselves among this “bike culture” may be getting some new neighbors soon if attempts to start a bike sharing program are successful here in Philadelphia.  Bike sharing, popular for several years in Europe, is coming to America.  WHYY’s Bill Hangley recently did a story about how Philadelphia is looking to Washington DC’s new program to see whether bike sharing can work here.

Bill talked to some advocates of the program who are skeptical that DC’s program can work since it’s on such a small scale.

Governing.com’s blog, The 13th Floor, agrees that DC’s program has some flaws:

But there’s one aspect of the program that just might doom it altogether. From DCist:

It takes at least a couple of weeks to process memberships, so if you sign up today, you can be one of the first people to try out the new program.

“At least a couple of weeks”?? I’m sure people are excited about the notion of being about to grab a bike and go, but won’t a two- or three-week wait be a huge discouraging factor?

For this to work in Philadelphia, it has to be easy to use, convenient, inexpensive and reliable.  The stations need to be everywhere and there has to be bikes available at all of them.  In other words, when it comes to bike sharing, go big or go home.

Encouraging an expansion of Philly’s “bike culture” can only help in the long run.

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