Here’s a mini-post (not micro enough for Twitter) on something that I heard at the Bicycle Leadership Conference back in April. I was cleaning my desk off and found my little Embassy Suites notepad with some things I jotted down that caught my attention during the sessions. This one is from comments made by Gilles Vesco of Lyon’s urban mobility government agency presentation during the bike sharing panel.
I’ve heard some discussion of the effect that a bike sharing program would have on local retailers. Would the availability of free or low-cost loaner bikes cause less people to buy bikes for themselves?
Not so, according to Mr. Vesco. “Bike sharing spurs retail sales of bikes,” he stated emphatically. Paraphrasing his reasoning, he said that all of the additional bikes on the road as a result of a sharing program “rebalance” the public space and the relationship between bikes and cars. Bike sharing places a critical mass (in the most positive and sharing sense of the term) of bikes onto the streets causing people to see cycling in the city as safer.
And safety, as we’ve all heard from so many non-cycling friends of ours, is one of the major points of resistance for more mainstream adoption of cycling. With more bikes on the streets, though, drivers are more aware of and are more accepting of their right to be there. The perceived added safety of so many other fellow cyclists encourages more people to get into cycling and to buy a bike.
Here’s a recent piece of local bike sharing news for those of us in Orange County, California: “European style” bike-sharing to begin in Newport Beach.”
As Mr. Vesco said at the beginning of his presentation: “Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come.” Amen.