If it were not for the Shazam password “bike,” the program to install commercial, for-profit, intrusive infrastructure on public streets and places in this town would be laughed off stage.
The fact that BCycle has managed to convince our managers and city council members that their opportunity to make a buck is a sign of a healthy city is more than odd.
One assumes that other communities have resisted this co-option. Why are we not?
Among the inappropriate aspects of this move are:
(1) It subsidizes direct competition against existing local bicycle rental companies who pay for their business space and who contribute taxes to the local communities impacted by their presence.
(2) It usurps public spaces created for pedestrian and other uses. No private party is allowed to park a vehicle for indefinite periods on public streets, but these vehicles will do so. While the city has a precedent to allow restaurants to impinge on public sidewalks, at least the space was rented for that use. There appears to be no such rental agreement in place for this use.
(3) Selective access. Apparently only folks with “apps” on smart phones can actually borrow or rent the bikes from most sites. There are increasing documentations of the privacy loss incurred by the use of “apps” in ordinary daily activity. Many people choose not to allow this theft of personal data and life behaviors. Excluding these folks is a concession to the money-making model of BCycle but a disservice to the people of this town.
(4) Apparent lack of concern about the liability incurred by the city for activities of those it allows to use its public spaces with impunity.
Not long ago the city aggressively stopped the infestation of electric scooters that visited our town. Now the city is welcoming a clearly competitive business. Why? Does the bike lobby exert such great reach within our government that it can act with little oversight, convert public spaces to private gain, ignore the esthetics of their constructions, favor a private vendor over many others doing similar business, allow private gathering of personal data through electronic means on our own community?
The answer appears to be “yes.” This “experiment” is not on behalf of the people of Santa Barbara but a few zealots and a private operation that they favor.
It should not have been approved, and it should not be continued under the presently drafted permissive rules.
Editor’s Note: The writer states he meant “BCycle” and not “ebikes,” and the word has been substituted.