Oh Ladies, my happiness-cup runneth over!
Cities all over the US, from D.C. to NYC to Portland, are investing in bike sharing programs that make cycle commuting more visible and accessible for more people. The latest addition to the list? Seattle, where a non-profit coalition is currently raising funds to make the bike dreams of the Ladies (and Lady-lovers) of the city a reality!
More about the proposed program and current progress on the project:
Participants might pay $5 a day, $30 a month, or $75 a year to hop a bicycle at one of 50 street-side stations, in a situation somewhat similar to using a Zipcar.
Bicycles here would have seven gears to help with hill climbing, instead of the usual three. They would be equipped with lights, and helmets — required in Seattle and King County — would be dispensed from a machine, then returned along with the bike.
The bike-sharing organization is recruiting an executive director this month to raise money and hire an operating company.
Organizers don’t expect to seek local taxpayer dollars, said Ref Lindmark, a King County Metro Transit planner and president of the bike-sharing committee. Instead, the group intends to fund the $3.7 million estimated startup, and $1.4 million yearly operating cost through grants from corporations, foundations or the federal government.
Microsoft and Seattle Children’s have pledged property for bicycle parking, and to subsidize employee subscriptions. Other partners are Seattle, Redmond, Kirkland, the University of Washington, Sound Transit, Cascade Bicycle Club, the Puget Sound Regional Council and the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.
Bicycle sharing complements mass transit by solving the so-called last-mile problem, Lindmark said.
“People can get off the bus and bike eight blocks or so to work,” he said. Bike-sharing also works well for short hops between offices, for tourists, or for shopping side trips, he said.
Success stories, like Vélib in Paris, have not only increased ridership in their programs, they’ve lead to increases in citywide trips made by bike and numbers of people utilizing privately owned bikes as transport.
As a Lady in Paris earlier this year, I exclusively used Vélib and walking to get from place to place, and the simplicity of renting a bike, joyfully riding to my destination, and dropping off my conveniently-basketed-upright at the nearest kiosk made riding so easy and amazingly lovely.
Constantly encountering Ladies in heels and gorgeous coats & Lady-lovers in dapper suits cycling chicly to work made it clear that the affordable system was not stigmatized as the transit of the lower-class; it was fabulously utilized by everyone!
After my glorious experience, I couldn’t help but imagine what similar systems would do for bike commuting in the US.
Shifting outdated and steel-enclosed mindsets, making Lady riding more accessible and affordable for all, and bringing lovely Ladies (and Lady-lovers) of the community together to mingle at kiosks? Yes, please!
Keep riding, and soon cycle sharing, Ladies!
It truly is the dawn of a new era, and it’s thanks to all of you out there riding on our roads <3