Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tragedy of the Commons Comes to D.C.

Not to be deterred by the reality that most common property bike programs fail, Washington, D.C. just launched the largest and most ambitious bike-sharing program in the country a few weeks ago.  Capital Bikeshare will eventually provide more than 1,000 red bikes (pictured above on the Duke Ellington Bridge in Woodley Park near my apartment) at more than 100 stations in D.C. and Arlington, VA. (see station map here).   Read a news report here about Capital Bikeshare. 

How have these bike-sharing programs worked out elsewhere?  Not so well.  Here are three examples of bike-sharing programs that have "gone flat" and failed in Paris, Lexington, KY, and Berry College in Rome, Georgia. Reason? "Tragedy of the commons."

Update: Here's another example of a failed bike-sharing program at Florida Atlantic University (HT: E. Frank Stephenson). 

14 Comments:

At 10/10/2010 1:40 PM, Blogger juandos said...

What's the definition of insanity again?

 
At 10/10/2010 6:25 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Juandos, it's not insanity that's the issue. It is the misguided belief in self and misunderstanding of limits of control that result in these lunatic programs being recycled over and over. I see it all the time and it is shocking. I'm sure someone in DC believes that since they're in charge this time it will be different.

It won't.

 
At 10/10/2010 7:03 PM, Blogger Chris Matheson said...

Have they ever stopped to think that the majority of people willing to ride bikes already own them?

 
At 10/10/2010 7:04 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Just remember, the entire US military is paid for by the commons, and is owned in common.

Guess the results.

 
At 10/10/2010 7:05 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

And yes, with bikes retailing for $100 at Wal-Mart, what is the need for public bikes? You can buy a bike for $50 on Craigslist.

This reminds me of the $400 toilet seats the Pentagon buys.

 
At 10/10/2010 7:33 PM, Blogger Arthur said...

A few years ago Middlebury College tried it. Didn't work there either.

 
At 10/11/2010 3:40 AM, Blogger Will Williams said...

Hi. I recognised the bikes. Mayor Boris Johnson has the scheme up and running over here in London, England. At the moment you have to register to go on the scheme, inc giving your bank details. You buy credit: daily for $1.50, weekly for $8. You undock the cycle and have an hour to redock near your destination, in the price. go over and the fee goes up and up. They send you a flash drive sized key for docking. No need to find a place to secure your own cycle or worry it will be there, complete, at the end of the day. delinquency is not a problem, I understand. Not sure how it's paying it's way but, maybe, markets in everything? Will.

 
At 10/11/2010 3:52 AM, Blogger lamecore said...

lulz. you can get them using a debit or credit card? here comes an easy way to turn worthless stolen credit cards into a free bike.

DC juvenile delinquents: go wild!

 
At 10/11/2010 7:04 AM, Blogger juandos said...

jason says: "It is the misguided belief in self and misunderstanding of limits of control that result in these lunatic programs being recycled over and over"...

So I ask you again, what's the definition of insanity?

 
At 10/11/2010 6:43 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Juandos, I get what you are saying. I'm trying to say it's worse than that. It's not just insane, it's psychopathic.

 
At 10/11/2010 9:39 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"I get what you are saying. I'm trying to say it's worse than that. It's not just insane, it's psychopathic"...

ROFLMAO!

Oh Senor Jason, I'll not argue that very valid and on target point.

 
At 10/12/2010 1:47 PM, Blogger Jason said...

But conservatives don't believe in "tragedy of the commons." If they did, then they might want to regulate air pollution, water pollution, fisheries, rainforests, etc.

 
At 10/14/2010 2:24 PM, Blogger Rory said...

The system in DC thus far has been a success. The predecessor to Capital Bikeshare, DC Smartbike, went over well and this new incarnation represents a significant upgrade and expansion to the program (from 10 stations to 114 regionally). H...aving used it myself, I think it's great and has a lot of utility, even for someone who already owns a bicycle.

Although the Velib system in Paris encountered more theft and vandalism than the system's administrators originally forecast, it has by no means been a failure and it continues to thrive and expand, while the program seeks measures to reduce theft and vandalism.

I like Jason's comment re: tragedy of the commons, on the blogspot post: "But conservatives don't believe in "tragedy of the commons." If they did, then they might want to regulate air pollution, water pollution, fisheries, rainforests, etc."

Why do conservatives have to freak out about stuff like this? Most of the users of the bike share program still privately own a private bike manufactured in Taiwan, if that makes AEI feel better.

 
At 8/10/2011 7:01 PM, Blogger John said...

Washington DC’s Bikeshare is So Successful That Bikes are in Short Supply
http://inhabitat.com/dc-bikeshare-so-successful-people-are-wondering-where-the-bikes-are/

 

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