The Wall Street Journal

City Bike-Sharing Programs Hit Speed Bumps
The Wall Street Journal

At offices, parks, intersections and a pedestrian bridge across the Tennessee River, people here can rent bicycles from solar-powered stations to zip around, using extra-low gears on steep streets. But it has been a tough road since the Bike Chattanooga program began two summers ago. The initial funding of $2.1 million has been spent, revenue has fallen short, and the number of yearly memberships sold to frequent riders is about 90% smaller than projected.

Bike-sharing programs are spreading across the U.S., with more than 21,000 shared bikes in at least 36 urban areas from Boston to Fort Worth, Texas, to Denver, up from just six programs in 2010, according to researchers.

More than half of the programs have stumbled, according to a tally by The Wall Street Journal. Several had to delay their launch because of technical snafus or trouble securing funding from government or the private sector.

In several other places, supplier woes have thwarted plans to add bikes and stations needed to rev up rider revenue. And some bike-share systems are scrambling for money needed to keep them rolling or help them expand.

« The only macro trend is chaos, » says Ryan Rzepecki, chief executive of Social Bicycles Inc., of New York, which supplies bikes and other equipment to the 16-month-old program in Buffalo. « The industry is kind of a mess. »

Le verdict est sans appel: les Bixi c’était une idée de cabochon…

Pour citer P. J. O’Rourke: « Political activists of a certain ideological stripe want citizens to have a child-like dependence on government. And it’s impossible to feel like a grown-up when you’re on a bicycle if you aren’t in the Tour de France. »