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What Dockless Bikes and Scooters Are Exposing (haveago.city)
194 points by andrewfromx on April 18, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 191 comments

If Hertz or Avis attempted to use public space to park their inventory, local residents and city officials would pitch a fit. Public parking exists for the benefit of the public at large, not as a cost-saving measure for rental firms.

The same is true of bicycles. You can store your private bicycle almost anywhere you like in public. But city fathers will naturally take a dim view of a business using that public space without permission.

You mean... like Getaround and Zipcar already do?

The streets are filled with companies using public spaces: Fedex deliveries blocking the road, sidewalk signs for bars, Getaround rentals, food carts, mailboxes, ATMs, parking meters, Scoot scooters, taxi lines, Lyft/Ubers, Redbox DVD rentals, annoying Greenpeace petition people, construction, billboards, etc.

I don't think it's a cost-saving measure for scooter/bike companies, but rather convenience for users. I wouldn't use scooters if I had to walk 4 blocks to a "designated pickup zone".

Yes, these scooters/bikes are making money. But they also really improve cities, by cutting down on traffic congestion and car emissions. As long as they're regulated via permits (meaning the government makes a bit of money to pay for maintenance), they should be allowed... and if people dislike them, they'll go out of business, and it'll solve itself.

Fedex deliveries blocking the road for a short time are generally considered preferable to removing a whack of on-street parking from every block in order to have an excess of loading zones, or not being able to have deliveries at all.

sidewalk signs for bars are regulated, at least in my city. They have to leave (IIRC) 6' of clearance on the sidewalk so they don't obstruct pedestrian traffic. Whether those rules are being followed is perhaps another issue, but I haven't generally found them to be a nuisance.

Getaround rentals are private cars that you rent from the owner. If the city requires a fee to be paid for overnight on-street parking, that fee will be paid by the owner. If the street is meter parking, that fee will be paid by whoever is using the car.

food carts typically pay the city a fee in exchange for use of public space.

mailboxes are either owned by the government or installed on private property.

ATMs are installed on private property.

parking meters are government property.

Scoot scooters (don't know what those are)

taxi lines are a government designated thing. Note that most cities that have them also make money from taxi licensing.

Lyft/Ubers are a minor menace, I agree with you on that one.

Redbox DVD rentals are installed on private property.

annoying Greenpeace petition people are required to get permits, at least in my city.

construction also requires permits.

billboards are installed on private property.

Long story short, I think you're being hyperbolic here.

> Fedex deliveries blocking the road for a short time are generally considered preferable to removing a whack of on-street parking from every block in order to have an excess of loading zones, or not being able to have deliveries at all.

You mean the way that the minor inconvenience of having a few scooters laying around is considered acceptable in return for having a cheap, efficient, green solution for last mile transportation?

If it's just a few, that's not a big deal. But what a lot of people are envisioning isn't just a few scooters and bikes left around, it's the nuisance and eyesore of public areas being absolutely littered with these things that people are seeing in photos from cities that have had these services for a while.

I don't think they're wrong. I also don't think it's a non-solvable problem. It seems that the worst of it is largely due to there being simply too many of the things -- far more than are needed to actually meet the demand for short- to medium-distance transportation -- in many cities. Requiring companies to get a permit for each of their bikes so that the city has a way to limit the total volume, and so that it can ensure that the rollout happens incrementally so any apparent problems can be addressed before they create a major nuisance, would probably be more than sufficient.

Extremely minor compared to the massive eyesore of parked cars littered all over the place.

I think it's a question of how those things are "laying around".

In Paris this is a relatively new development, but what I take issue with is where they are left by the users, which is usually in the middle of the sidewalk. People really don't care where they leave them since there's no consequence for them.

I ride a motorbike around town. In Paris it's legal to park motorbikes and scooters on the sidewalks if the sidewalk is wide enough as to not bother pedestrians. If the police walks by and thinks your vehicle is bothering, you get a ticket or could even have your bike towed. This has a direct impact on the owner.

If you park like a d... you risk your bike being tipped over, scratched, etc. Again, direct impact on the owner.

However, with a rental scooter / bike, you won't get any fines for parking in the middle of the sidewalk, most people won't care if something happens to the bike, etc, so they just don't care. Of course, if the company is getting the tickets and has to repair the bikes more often than otherwise necessary, the cost will be transferred to the users, but not in a direct manner. So in a society where people are on average less and less civil, I think this kind of development is to be expected.

There are many (particularly those with mobility or vision related disabilites) that would disagree with your use of the word "minor" to describe randomly placed obstacles on the sidewalk...

"Fedex deliveries blocking the road"

Preferable to cars, maybe, since it frees up parking, however, around here they simply park in the bike lane. I go by a UPS store daily and there are often 1-2 trucks both parked in the bike lane.

Zipcar pays for the parking spots they use. Obviously, while they’re being rented the drivers may use public spots the same as car owners do.

And Bird is paying (or offering to, at least) $1/scooter/day to SF. That's $365/scooter/year.

I've heard Zipcar pays SF $1000-ish/year, so inch-for-inch it's certainly a good deal.

In the greater Boston area, I think I've only seen Zipcar spots on private property (though I'm not sure what the ownership is of the MBTA parking spaces) and I would expect the rate to be somewhat negotiable, based on supply & demand for the neighborhood.

There are car sharing services in Seattle that operate much like the scooters and bikes (park them in any city space, pay just for when you use, etc). The city charges a flat rate per car per month. Like dockless bike share it ends up being way more useful.

I love Car2Go here in Austin.

They pay the city some flatrate per year, and so car2go can park anywhere in public street parking without paying meters.

Same in Philadelphia

There are some zipcar spots on streets in Philly

Enterprise has a few streetside too. Almost assuredly, these companies pay Philly for the rights to that those marked spots.

Certainly, where I live in London, Zipcar has arranged with the council to have special bays marked, reserved for them. The council like car-sharing, so are happy - but it is done in a manageable way.

There is also Zipcar Flex in London. You can park the cars in on-street parking, even paid or residents bays. But they have only agreed it with some councils so far. Map: https://www.zipcar.co.uk/takethebluepin#zipzone-map

I would how risky that is for Zipcar. What incentive would there be for the council to say no to a competitor offering more money for the spaces?

uk gov might not work like a greed corporation as its usa counterparts. usually when a deal is stabilished with one company, others can jump in for the same price/share. the worst that would happen for zip car is to have to share the spaces.

>Yes, these scooters/bikes are making money.

Are they? Are any of the companies public? It seems like a burn through cash to get a user base sort of thing but maybe these companies are older and more established than it seems to me.

Are you required to be public in order to make money ?

No, but it would make it possible to actually check whether they do or not, which I guess is why parent is asking.

yeah, just gives you numbers you can look at vs. just guessing.

Yep! And even rental car companies do take advantage of public parking: when cars are actually in use, customers are free to park them in any public parking spot.

Well where I live (Melbourne, Aus) what a assume are the equivalent to Zipcar actually buy/rent car spaces to leave for their cars.

Yet another clueless astroturfer who alters the facts to fit your own narrative. Go back to your PR boss and tell them we're not buying your "messaging".

> Public parking exists for the benefit of the public at large

This is the point under contention. I strongy disagree, I would very happily give up public parking for other uses of that space - more bike/scooter lanes that can be further offset from fast-moving cars, dedicated space for Uber/Lyft dropoffs that don't block the roads, 5-minute loading/unloading parking for Fedex trucks and Postmates delivery people to idle for a few minutes.

Free (or heavily subsidized) parking for private cars is at the bottom of this list for me. It's also much more expensive to provide than these other things, because there's only one person benefitting from each parking space per few hours while all the others can benefit many more people. And even for the very drivers that street parking is intended to benefit - in lots of situations there are too few spaces on the street at all, so we're blocking this valuable space and most people won't find a spot anyway and will be forced to use a private garage.

And it's not that I never drive, I sometimes do, I still think it's a much better use of public space if I had to find a private lot or garage on the occasions when I drive so that these other things can be available to everyone.

Exactly. I'd add to this that benefiting the public at large vs. a company isn't exactly clear-cut. If I don't own a car, free parking doesn't benefit me directly, but having that space used for bikeshare docks does (even if this also benefits the bikeshare company). You could just as easily argue that free parking benefits Ford since it makes driving more feasible.

Car2Go does this, well sort of. In Seattle the company pays about $1300 [1] per car per year for parking, which includes skipping metered parking, which could come to a pretty large subsidy

[1] https://www.seattletimes.com/business/car2go-a-handy-option-...

> If Hertz or Avis attempted to use public space to park their inventory, local residents and city officials would pitch a fit.

I don't have a counter-example for your very specific statement, but these are close:

* The car rental company "Rent a Wreck" in San Francisco drives between 5 and 20 of their camper vehicles off the lot and parks them in public parking spaces every morning around 7am and brings them back in in the evening. Reported to 311, "not enforceable".

* The Enterprise car rental branch at the Amtrak station in Emeryville, CA, routinely blocks a bike lane and public parking spots with rental vehicles. They also perform vehicle inspections and handovers there. No outrage, in fact Emeryville doesn't enforce parking in bike lanes or at red curbs, period.

* "Global Gourmet Catering" in San Francisco backs rental trucks into their loading bay such that the entire sidewalk, the entire bike lane, and up to half a traffic lane is blocked approximately every second day. In the evenings the same trucks are parked in public diagonal parking spots sized for passenger vehicles across the street, blocking the side walk and bike lane in the other direction. Reported to 311, forwarded to parking enforcement, won't enforce because blocked sidewalks and blocked bike lanes are handled by different people, and this involves both.

* "Enclosures International Corporation" in San Francisco basically runs a fulfillment operation with frequent forklift traffic on a public sidewalk and the bike lane. Super dangerous actually, because it forces cyclists to cross defunct train tracks in the traffic lane at a sharp angle. When the fork lifts aren't there, the Audi Q7 of one of their employees still blocks the sidewalk. Reported to 311, you can guess the outcome.

I asked @sf311 on Twitter why these things don't get enforced, but parking scooters on sidewalks does [0]. The answer:

> These scooters do not have a license plate. So it does not fall under SFMTA DPT.

> DPW BSM permits use of and enforces ordinances regarding public areas, as pertains to blocking items that don't have a license.

[0]: https://twitter.com/jonemo/status/985989669895553024

> I asked @sf311 on Twitter why these things don't get enforced, but parking scooters on sidewalks does [0]. The answer:

>> These scooters do not have a license plate. So it does not fall under SFMTA DPT.

>> DPW BSM permits use of and enforces ordinances regarding public areas, as pertains to blocking items that don't have a license.

> [0]: https://twitter.com/jonemo/status/985989669895553024

Excellent example of Red Tape in the wild.

Cities also force all property owners to provide many “private” parking spaces for the use of whoever’s car may need a place to sit. The space they take up generally makes life worse for all other users of the street. The nuisance of these little scooters is trivial in comparison.

A small business with a fleet of vans will take up more public space than a much larger fleet of dockless bicycles. Private cars are the worst offenders, though.

This is just another case of people being blind to the convenience and privilege they already have and kicking off when other people attempt to get such convenience.

Hertz and Avis have spots near downtown hotels in my city.

It’s an easy problem for cities to regulate.

Hertz and Avis don't park their fleet in public spaces because it would be bad for business. You want to rent a car? Gotta walk four blocks to pick it up.

Car sharing companies do that around the world all the time: people park the cars of those companies among privately owned cars. In my country those companies pay a license to city councils and get the right to enter limited traffic zones and park in areas that require a fee. Bike sharing companies pay a license too.

Uber? You may say "Uber is just a platform" but they use public facilities as well as private cars. That User car takes up as much space as 20+ dockless ebikes.

Rental car companies actually do utilize public parking: when cars are rented out, customers are free to park them in any public parking spot. These are businesses that are freely using public space.

The status quo bias extends to more than just cars. I work in SF and some of my coworkers have complained about having to step over poorly-parked scooters. A couple of times, I've had to do the same.

When it comes to things I've had to avoid on SF sidewalks, the scooters are a non-problem. Far more often I am stepping over used needles, feces, and garbage. There are some alleys where I'm forced to walk in the road because the sidewalks are taken up with tents. Yet scooters are the thing we want to crack down on? What absurd priorities.

Cracking down on the scooters is relatively easy: there are a handful of major actors, and dealing with them solves the problem.

Human waste, needles, garbage on the sidewalk is the result of hundreds of bad actors, which correspondingly takes significantly more resources to deal with. (And on that note, the state of Texas is the worst offender. Their official policy for dealing with their homeless during the Perry era, and still their unofficial policy, was to give their homeless showers and then a bus ticket to SF.)

And does California charge them for this?

That's an incredible story, especially from a Europe where immigration controls is on everyone's lips.

That's the root of the problem: the borders of movement are at the federal level* (well the 48 states), but the 'solutions' for non-integrated citizens are left to the states, counties, and local municipalities.

Informally, I recall learning that the 'solution' for inhuman insane asylums was to just release everyone and close them down. That's quite probably where a good portion of the 'homeless' problem comes from; there are of course also untreated veterans and just pure scam-artist pan-handlers.

The actual solution is also a difficult and politically impalpable issue:

    * national healthcare including drug addition treatment and mental health
    * an unending 'new deal'
    * + everyone trained to aptitude
    * + non-broken-window fallacy job assurance
    * adequate housing of actual quality near jobs
Also taxes / incentives (carrot+stick) at a federal level to pay for / encourage the correct behavior from all actors.

The various states have many powers that are reserved for independent nations elsewhere in the world, but interstate immigration control is not one of them. Freedom of movement is a Constitutional right, and there would be a huge bipartisan outcry if anyone tried to limit the movement of US citizens.

We don't, and legally we can't. Once they accept the ticket to SF and choose to make their home on the sidewalk, they become our problem, legally. And SF (even now) is so much nicer than Texas that few of the homeless are willing to go back.

And SF, like most cities, has this program which will send the homeless somewhere else.


Disputes between states are always political and only occasionally legal.

But yeah I can see it being difficult to prove, and harder to action. If one state wanted to sue the other, what is the process? Congress? Supreme court?

States do get into law suites with each other from time to time. The issue has to be about federal law.

Nebraska and Oklahoma vs Colorado was recently declined to be heard by the Supreme Court.

> That's an incredible story, especially from a Europe where immigration controls is on everyone's lips.

There's no immigration controls between the states because we're all part of the same country. Don't think it'd even be legal to try it, ever.

The only real "immigration controls" we have are for produce at the California border to control the immigration of insects, people are free to go wherever they want. Oh, and those annoying Border Control checkpoints not at the actual border to impede the movement of foreign nationals.

That's a highly misleading statement. Homeless busing programs are common across the country and while not without their problems, they don't just send all homeless to a single location such as Texas to SF. Also, SF buses considerably more homeless out of its city every year than it receives via bus.

Maybe cities should organize to bus all their homeless residents to DC Union Station and Dupont Circle so those in the squaky clean Capitol can understand that this is a national issue. MLK tried to do something similar before he was assassinated.

Have you actually been to DC? Union Station always had homeless outside when I worked nearby. DC may be unique in a few ways but in most ways it's similar to any other large city for the people that live there.

I agree that there's a problem to be solved but DC is far from squeaky clean...

Real numbers: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-has-the-highest-home...

Sounds like there's enough demand to create a "homeless busing as a service" app.

It is not an absurd priority if you are disabled. These scooters in the middle of side walks can literally mean injury to the blind, and a big pain for those in wheel chairs. Think of that the next time you simply 'step over' a poorly-parked scooter.

If the thing you care about is clear sidewalks, scooters are such a tiny problem that they're barely worth mentioning. I've had to step over parked scooters a handful of times. Every time, they were in an alley that no wheelchair or blind person could have navigated. The sidewalk was also populated with garbage cans, bicycle parts, and some random trash.

If a scooter is poorly parked in a high traffic area, people tend to move it out of the way. If it's in a low traffic area, then there's almost always other stuff in the way as well.

Yep. That's what the embedded Tweet was meant to illustrate.

> If the thing you care about is clear sidewalks, scooters are such a tiny problem that they're barely worth mentioning.

So let's nip it in the bud before it becomes a bigger problem and then use scooters as an example to rationalize the bigger problems with sidewalks.

* rationalize dealing with

His argument is they're ignoring things like tents and feces. Maybe you can roll over trash and used needles in a wheelchair, but I wouldn't want to ride over or around any of those.

As an aside, I always found it odd when they mount street signs in the middle of sidewalks.

I want to “crack down” on both.

I'm pro scooters and dockerless bikes in general -- but I also don't really buy into the logic of this article.

In the key markets for these things - there is no presumption of parking. I imagine avoiding parking is the #1/#2 reason for most users would use this service (I'd include ride sharing here too). I specifically don't have a car in San Francisco because I have nowhere to park it.

When dockerless bikes were launched in other markets (e.g. Sydney, Melbourne) it really was a mess. Bikes thrown in rivers. Stacked up as hazards. In trees. On the top of stuff in general. And Melbourne is a much more bike-friendly city than many North American ones. But it was still a huge bomb. It's probably sensible for the SFMTA to at least consider the consequences and stage a rollout.

The SFMTA was actually being pretty co-operative. And for a government agency, they were moving pretty fast - i.e. getting stuff going in weeks/months. Instead, one of the companies launched early on St Patrick's Day. When the others felt they were losing first mover advantage, they did too.

As a biker, having to park my bike at Walgreens and seeing the same Jump bikes parked at the bike stand, from the day before, and nowhere to park my bike is definitely a nuisance. Didn't really encounter this issue before, people normally come and go with their bikes. As a walker, when entitled scooter peeps jump on the sidewalk and start whizzing around you, and at almost hit you, it's a nuisance as well. I like the Ford Go Bikes/Citi Bikes, it's organized and it's a proven system in NYC and other cities, that doesn't burden others. Except those who lose parking spots in their neighborhood to docking stations.

The inconvenience and danger caused by cars is so much more. You have to be on alert to avoid being killed by them. Huge swaths of valuable city real estate are devoted to free or low priced subsidized storage of cars for entitled car owners. It's astounding that this has gone on for so long and it needs to be stopped.

I seldom see cars driving on the pavement.

When bikes are ridden on the pavement, it's usually because road design and/or car drivers are making the road too dangerous for them. If you think about it, the pavement is not somewhere the average cyclist wants to be any more than a pedestrian wants them there. Even without people filling them, pavements are irregular, uneven and cluttered spaces, optimised for slow-moving bipeds who can stop, start and turn on a dime. If there's a safe roadway available, cyclists will use it.

If my bike can't use the road, I dismount and walk it. Riding on the sidewalk is illegal. I don't begrudge anyone who does it perforce - say, if there are no alternative roads and they need to get to work - but I do begrudge cyclists who seem to forget that dismounting is even possible.

Yet cars kill many pedestrians on pavements every year.

For me its not really parking the things, it's the theft. I don't want to carry 2 - 3 locks so assholes wont steal my tires, seats and so on. I also don't want to take up a lot of space on the train with my bike.

From the article: “If cities allow, and mandate that we be able to park cars everywhere, why shouldn’t bikes have the same convenience, especially considering they require 10 times less space than cars and offer the enormous efficiency, environmental, cost, and health benefits listed above?”

Alternatively we could drop the entitlement to drive and park cars everywhere and the regulations forcing that choice on the country.

But either way, I’m all for bikes and scooters etc. getting the same benefit that cars get.

> entitlement to drive and park cars everywhere

Most places in the US at least are not very livable without a car. You majorly hurt commerce and people's quality of life by removing vehicles without completely changing the layout of cities to make them work with other options.

Not that we shouldn't pursue those sorts of changes but that thinking of it as "entitlement" is shallow and not constructive. The entire system was engineered around the car. To remove the car you have to reengineer the system.

> Most places in the US at least are not very livable without a car.

Let me rephrase that for you: In most place in the US public transport is woefully under-funded, under-utilized, and overly stigmatized (as a thing only poor 'others' would use).

That is changing, slowly, as places that basically gave up on public transport are discovering that less and less people in their cities want to own a car.

US cities also tend to be more spread out, which also reduces the appeal of public transit. Contrast this to a Chinese city of the same size, which due to the fact that literally everyone lives in small apartments, is much more compact and easier to serve via public transport.

"US cities also tend to be more spread out, which also reduces the appeal of public transit."

Also could be US cities have no transit, requiring space-intensive auto infrastructure, so they're more spread out.

History is path-dependent.

At some point in our nation's history (namely right after WW2), it was decided that cars, suburbia, and the Interstate highway system was the way forward, and not dense, closely packed cities + public transport + more railways.

Note that we might not think about this now, but cities before WW2 were often disease-ridden, filthy places. The antibiotic revolution did not really come into full swing until after the war. There were reasons people made those choices back then, and some of them we have forgotten since the problems they faced were mitigated.

We're now revisiting whether that choice has outlived its usefulness, but if something took 50 years to build, you can bet replacing it will take just as long.

China never had the luxury of making that choice during its development; it was either public transit or nothing.

We agree on all those points. All I was saying is that people say "cities are spread out so transit won't work" when often the very _reason_ cities are spread out is that they lacked transit, so huge amounts of land were given over to auto infrastructure. It's worth considering that it's self-reinforcing and the causality isn't one-way.

Look at a big box store, for instance - most of the land is parking, not the store itself. A freeway interchange can take as much land as en entire neighborhood. Meanwhile you can have tens of thousands of people in a city centre all within walking distance of one another. But you can't do that if you pave over most of the land.

Also, it's illegal in most of the US to build infrastructure that isn't suited to an auto-first lifestyle, mostly through parking minimums but also Level-of-service considerations that force large, wide streets.

In California, SB827 just died a sad death. It would have allowed buildings up to 5 stories near high-frequency transit stops. Now those people who would have lived in those buildings will have to live farther from transit, so they'll drive. They'll need parking too, so we'll need to use land that would have gone to homes/businesses/etc for their parking. Also gas stations, more road capacity, etc. The homes they end up living in will be harder to reasonably serve with transit, because of course they're farther apart.

Yet old neighborhoods near cities built _before_ those rules are often very expensive, suggesting that more people would like to live in them than are able to. The first thing that comes to mind is the nicer areas of Berkeley, or South Park, San Diego, for instance. It's funny you note railways though because they were largely the original enablers of sprawl (though I have no problem with railway-served suburbs! the problem is largely that we got rid of the rail service).

> All I was saying is that people say "cities are spread out so transit won't work" when often the very _reason_ cities are spread out is that they lacked transit, so huge amounts of land were given over to auto infrastructure. It's worth considering that it's self-reinforcing and the causality isn't one-way.

IIRC, that's ahistorical and getting the causation backwards. American cities used to be denser with more public transit (e.g. trollies) before cars became common. The reason cities are spread out is cars enabled the residents to spread out, since that's what they wanted to do. That established a new pattern of development that makes density more difficult.

True, but those people who moved out found that the externalities of their driving made driving itself less pleasant. It's great to live in the suburbs and drive in to the city when you're the only one doing it. When parking gets scarce or the roads are too narrow or congestion is bad, though, it gets annoying. For the US, the response was to mandate large amounts of parking and large roads that are built so they can move a certain number of cars a certain distance per hour. However, little thought was given to the fact that by doing so, you end up making the distances larger, because everything's farther apart, because it's surrounded by parking (among other reasons), wider streets, larger interchanges, etc.

Those things that make driving more pleasant also make walking less pleasant (walking next to Wilshire blvd in LA isn't exactly pleasant, for instance), so more people drive, so more people demand auto-oriented infrastructure, and so on.

I think you're focusing optimizing lifestyle to suit a desired transit style (public transit and walking), while the historical development mindset was to optimize transit style for a desired lifestyle (suburban living).

I just want to walk and ride my bike places without dying, and be allowed to build a 5 story apartment building near transit without people from miles away coming and yelling at me in city hall not to.

But.. a lot of people don't desire suburban living. They don't get much choice because those neighborhoods are illegal to build.

They definitely exist, but I'm skeptical that there are enough of them to significantly reverse current car-centric development patterns.

Isn't LA famously 40% car-related (road, parking, service) by area? A prime example of the cost of externalities.

No, American cities are more spread out mainly because many Americans don't want to live in small apartments, and cars enabled that.

Public transit is much less convenient and desirable when the 1) distance between adjacent stops is too large, 2) there are too many stops between different destinations, and/or 3) the stops at a particular location are too infrequent. I think all of those undesirable factors increase as density decreases.

Using a personal car effectively reduces #1 to zero, #2 to zero, and increases #3 to infinity.

We completely agree. Cars did enable that. They also caused people (especially wealthy people) to push for the very things that cause lower density, because driving through high density areas is a pain. I mean, it's not even that complicated. I used to go to my planning board meetings every month. I won't deny an agenda; I rode my Brompton to them. At those meetings people said (paraphrased but close) "We need to limit density because of traffic".

Unsurprisingly those neighborhoods have poor transit service. A shame, because in the example I think of there was once a rail line right through the neighborhood; it's what caused the neighborhood to get built in the first place.

If only _I_ decide to start taking a helicopter to work it's fantastic. If it starts to become popular to do so it will be a hassle, so people might push for rules about minimum helipad counts for buildings and building density because having thousands of people commuting by helicopter causes loads of congestion. As a result of both of those things buildings will need to be even farther apart. In fact, it might push them so far apart that it's impractical to get between them via foot, transit, or maybe even car. As a result, everyone uses a helicopter to get anywhere now, except for the poor chumps who can't afford one and are stuck driving.

A better phrasing would be that in most places in the U.S. public transport simply does not exist. Not everyone lives in the heart of the city where it may be an option.

> In most place in the US public transport is woefully under-funded, under-utilized, and overly stigmatized

You misspelled "in most places in the US public transport cannot meet people's needs". Yes, it can in inner cities, but most of the US is not inner cities.

> According to new numbers just released from the U.S. Census Bureau, 80.7 percent of the U.S. population lived in urban areas as of the 2010 Census


I assume that number has only gone up since 2010.

The Census Bureau’s “urban” is “not rural.” Most people live in metro areas, but in suburban and exurban parts of those metro areas without the density to make public transit good enough to rely on.

> 80.7 percent of the U.S. population lived in urban areas as of the 2010 Census

"Urban areas" includes where I live, which is not dense enough for public transportation to work well. Reading the article you cited, it looks like about half of the population labeled "urban" by the Census Bureau lives in areas that are like mine (or even less dense).

> which is not dense enough for public transportation to work well

You lose me here. I live in a major metro area and public transportation works fine, even out into the suburbs where it is not as dense, but the public transit spokes out to the major hubs and people drive to those transit stations and park for the day.

Public transportation works for the vast majority of the country.

You don't deserve the downvotes. It's not really surprising that the HN crowd doesn't understand how public transport completely fails in sparse metro-areas.

- Walking, biking, etc. are out since there's very little mixed-use land. Getting out of your residential area is already outside what one could reasonably be expected to bike. Your nearest grocery store is even further.

- Fixed path transport is always being proposed but getting the coverage and schedule that would make people give up their cars is always ludicrously cost prohibitive. There are too many areas to hit and few people in each area which makes each stop basically unprofitable.

- Buses face exactly the same problems. Within the densest parts of the city they work well but they don't work well in sparse residential areas because it's not profitable to run them at convenient schedules for small populations that trickle in and out.

And we're talking about millions of people. Rearrange everything isn't exactly a viable path forward.

> You majorly hurt commerce and people's quality of life by removing vehicles without completely changing the layout of cities to make them work with other options.

In related news, SB-827, Weiner's bill to increase housing density near public transportation, died in committee today: https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/04/17/major-california-hous...

Cities got that way by fiat, not by choice, and the government engineered the system with no small amount of help from the industrial lobbies that would be best served by having a car-dependent population.

I would love for us to re-engineer the system. The first step is removing the entitlement.

you don’t have to remove the car. But to change things, the first step would be to reframe the car centered infra as legacy, an historic situation that you want to work on.

I interpret GP’s “entitlement” bit as the thinking that cars should be at the center of cities. Good or bad, I think the majority of people are still currently in that mentality.

> Most places in the US at least are not very livable without a car

absent subsidies, this would not be the case

I’m all for it if they stay off the sidewalk.

That's already likely illegal. At least riding them on the sidewalk usually is, sometimes parking is allowed (or just ignored).

Someone who is not comfortable/fit enough to bike on an American road should probably bike on a non-crowded sidewalk.

There are over 800 cyclist deaths, from being hit by cars, every year in the United States. How many pedestrians have been killed by a cyclist hitting them?

Forcing someone biking at 7 mph off the sidewalk and onto the street creates more danger then it protects us from.

  How many pedestrians have been killed by a cyclist hitting them?
Finding fatality data is oddly difficult; DuckDuckGo finds lots of UK data and news items (e.g. [0]) but little USA data. There are many individual cases, including several well-known in the Bay Area. The official DOT reports count pedestrian and cyclist deaths in collisions with motor vehicles only.

"Overall, 7,904 pedestrians in New York State (including New York City) were treated in a hospital for injuries caused by a person on a bicycle between 2004 and 2011. In California, the number was 6,177 between 2005 and 2011."[1]

[0] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/14/cyclist-killed-p...

[1] https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2014/10/the-rate-of-p...

And there are 1.3 million deaths per year in auto accidents. Cars are dangerous.


1.3M worldwide, 30-40K US.

Pedestrians killed by cars is an order of magnitude higher than that.

They are presumably already using the sidewalks.

It doesn’t matter where you are relative to them, cars are dangerous.

  They are presumably already using the sidewalks.
The vast majority of pedestrians killed in auto collisions are in intersections or completely on roadways.

And if those pedestrians had to walk in narrow, unseparated lanes, between parked cars, and busy streets, instead of on the relative safety of the sidewalk, I would imagine that fatality rates would be much higher.

There have been several studies showing that you're more likely to get hit by a car biking on the sidewalk then riding on the street. Drivers don't look for bicyclist riding on the sidewalk, you will get right swiped.

I have a lot of doubts about this.

Is this adjusted for location? I imagine people may bike on sidewalks more in dangerous-for-cyclist cities.

According to the CDC, most (72%)[1] of bicycle deaths occur outside of intersections, so this may even be an acceptable risk. Most fatal crashes occur near, but not in intersections[2] - biking on the sidewalk completely avoids them.

Also, when you're biking on the sidewalk, your odds of getting doored into traffic go down substantially.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/bicycle/index.html [2] http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/bicyclefatalities....

If you had biked in both places, you wouldn't doubt it. Sure not every autocager sees (or drives as if they see) a cyclist in the road, but the cyclist can see and hear everything around in way that's just not possible on the sidewalk. (I say this as someone who is missing one eye.) Also, cars aren't the only things with doors.

I have biked on both places (In more suburban areas). The roads tend to be terrifying (Because try as I might, I can't keep up with 30 mph traffic.) The sidewalks tend to be empty. I also didn't blow through intersections, which minimized the risk of getting hit in one.

Cars aren't the only thing with doors, but they are the only thing that will door you into traffic. Doors flush with buildings are also quite rare, and are quite rarely opened. (Except store doors - but you don't want to bike near them anyways, unless you want to run into a sign, or a table, or an outdoor display.)

I feel like I'm missing something. I can't understand how it's more likely for a car to hit a cyclist on the sidewalk than the road. Cars drive in the road. They do not drive on the sidewalk.

I hit a car while riding on the sidewalk as it was exiting an alley. The problem is that when you are riding on the sidewalk in a city, the corners are too blind. In order to guarantee avoiding an accident you essentially need to stop at each driveway and alley. Most cyclists and drivers aren’t going to do that. On the road you are far enough back that you can see cars exiting; they can see you as well.

They drive across the sidewalk when entering or leaving driveways, and drivers do not always see cyclists in those circumstances.

Unless they make the same people bike in a randomly decided way during the study, it's likely selection bias to a large extent - more experienced cyclists would ride on roads, less experienced (and on worse bikes without disc brakes) - on sidewalks.

>> Alternatively we could drop the entitlement to drive and park cars everywhere and the regulations forcing that choice on the country.

Amen, but it ain't gonna happen. Not with billions spent on making cars that drive and park themselves.


In my view, when bike parking becomes a problem in urban areas, cities do take steps towards regulating it. In my locale, there are numerous places where I've seen little signs forbidding bike parking, such as trees and hand railings. I don't know if these signs are backed up by real ordinances or what, but it does seem to point to a problem that's interesting enough for somebody to have addressed it. The nearby college used to be laissez faire about gas scooters, and now those have designated parking spaces and registration tags.

One feature of the system for enforcing parking ordinances, is that if your car is illegally parked, you're on the hook. Your license plate is tied to your identity, and you will be found. Even rentals or shares could have a way to identify the most recent user, otherwise the rental company has to eat the fine. With some random bike or scooter, not so easy, if there is not some kind of enforced numbering system.

I'm also guessing that with things such as bikes that are cheap enough (e.g., bikes and scooters), a growth strategy for a start-up is to address availability and ease of use first, and deal with cleaning up their mess later. Move fast and break things.

I'm an avid cyclist and cycling advocate, so I'd love to see bike sharing thrive, but I'm not brimming with great ideas.

One obvious solution would be to add more bike parking. Bike parking is rare in most cities, which is why you end up with people locking their bikes to poles, fences, trees, benches, and anything else available.

It's amazing how much urban space we're willing to dedicate to cars in the way of streets and parking (most of it free!), and yet bicycle parking is often a rarity.

When I was a kid, the schools had long rows of bike racks festooned with bikes. These days, a school has a single 5 foot rack with one forlorn bike in it and parents have to authorize their kids to bike to school.

When I drive by a school when they let out, the 20mph speed limit is a bit pointless because there are hardly any kids walking home (unlike the mobs when I was a kid). Their moms are all waiting in a long line with their SUVs idling (for some reason they never turn off the motor) while they text away.

The risk is that some kid runs around the car and into traffic to get in on the other side. You want cars to go slowly enough to quickly brake if small children dart into traffic.

A couple percent of car parking spots converted to bike racks/scooter parking would do a lot to mitigate these issues.

In my college bike town, when bikes or scooters are improperly parked, they broke the lock and impounded your bike and you had the option to pay a fee for it back, otherwise it'll be auctioned off after some time.

It's even easier to do that with sharing services because the company name is plastered all over the vehicle. Fine the company, they can eat the cost or find some way to keep track of how to pass it along to the user.

I would imagine this problem would be really easy to solve with bike sharing- to use it you have to register and pay a deposit. If a bike checked out with your name is never returned or is abandoned, they keep your deposit...

Edit- I suppose I have just invented docking.

> With some random bike or scooter, not so easy, if there is not some kind of enforced numbering system.

Even if there is, someone else could have moved the scooter after it was properly parked.

Site's down, so alternative (Google Cached) link: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:paAIFbe...

> One quick fix: designate one car parking stop near every street corner as drop-off spots for dockless lightweight EVs. Problem solved.

Yes, this seems like an efficient and practical solution. Personally very happy to see how quickly people have begun adopting alternative transportation options, need for cars is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Hi all! My name is Terenig, I'm the author of this post and founder of Have A Go.

My friend messaged me giving me the heads up that this article was on Hacker News. I was really surprised!

I'll do my best to reply to some of the thoughtful comments.

The problem isn't parking, it's where are these things going to drive? Bikes work OK on the street but scooters really don't (even where there are protected lanes, they really need a smoother road surface) so they end up riding on the sidewalk, hence the backlash from pedestrians.

The solution is obvious (make dedicated lanes, pave them like a sidewalk) but it would mean taking a lot of space away from cars, not as painless as 1 spot per block.

Roads are way smoother than sidewalks. Not to be condescending but do you bike around the Bay Area? There are certainly bad roads (potholes, patches, etc) but overall the roads are fairly smooth and sidewalks are bumpy from the joints between the slabs and uneven.

Not to be condescending but do you live in the city? Cause the roads are not really scooter ready.

You make a great point. We have been advocating 3rd speed or protected bike lanes for that reason.

As for the pain that might cause drivers: bike/scooter lanes are a much higher bandwidth form of urban transportation. So more people on scooters/bikes means less people in cars. This actually means traffic reduction, even with fewer car lanes. Now add to that the increased access/usage of public transit (a much higher bandwidth form of urban mobility) because of easy access to bus/subway stations thanks to dockless bikes/scooters, and now we're talking about significant traffic reduction. Not to mention cleaner air, reduced emissions, etc. So drivers should actually be in favor of more bike infrastructure. Counterintuitive, but that's how this particular complex system functions!

I'd much rather have scooters parked on the sidewalk than cars on the road. I previously used Lyft or Uber to get to work, now I primarily use Scoot, Bird, or Jump (depending on the distance/availability).

I've found all of these solutions are much more enjoyable and cost efficient than a car. Generally excited to see less and less people using cars in the city.

> What’s the issue? Some blocked sidewalks. As if that was a new issue in cities.

Yes, blocked sidewalks is the issue. And while I'm glad the author suggests a remedy — of creating designated parking zones — this is essentially describing dockable bikes. In my experience, docked bikes do not solve the convenience and availability problem well enough.

I've used dockless bikes recently in both Europe and Asia, and in the cities of both, dockless bikes are being literally strewn about the place. Flower-beds, narrow sidewalks, pedestrian junctions, private grounds, etc. are all being used as dumping grounds for users' dockless bike destinations. I've even been on wild-goose-chases after multiple consecutive 'available' bikes, only to realise that they must be literally taken inside peoples' property and homes.


For the former, I'm pretty sure it's simply a 'not my problem / not my bike' issue. Private bike owners usually have to lock their bikes up somewhere out of the way, and generally seem more respectful of their bikes' surroundings. With dockless bikes, it's just to easy to dump your bike in the middle of the sidewalk and not have to deal with any consequences. Certain bike hire companies are trying to deal with this by incentivizing certain parking spaces; however, why would you bother getting +10.CoolBikeXP for going out of your way when you can chuck your bike on someone's lawn right outside your office?

And as for the latter, because people seem to be getting away with it. People are so lovely [/s] that they'd seriously consider just keeping a rental bike inside their home, thus ruining the service for nearby users.

I want dockless bikes to be the future, and I think they should be, but we really need to fix users' docking behaviour, or else we'll end up with tragedy-of-the-commons[0] type consequences once enough people start using them.

[0] — this is a tenuous analogy, but for lack of better phrasing, I'm referring to the ultimate widespread abuse of potential public / open docking spaces.

We have dockless bikes in Bristol, and we've had similar issues. The biggest issue I've found is that most services require you give up use once you park, meaning that you could use one to get lunch and then come back to see that the bike you used is gone, with no bike nearby.

There are definitely solutions out there to these problems, but I think the space is still relatively new for companies to have these problems fully addressed. I don't share the sentiment or the entitlement of the article, though. Rather than addressing the problems, they're largely complaining about vehicles that don't really have a choice but to be parked for a long period of time (i.e. lorries running deliveries).

Dockless bikes are working pretty much fine in Oxford, where I live. The city is pretty much the poster child for the idea in the UK, with three firms competing (Ofo, Mobike, Pony). Pavements generally aren't obstructed and the bike companies aren't experiencing a high degree of theft.

"We don’t ask GM, Ford, or Toyota to solve car parking"

A more apt comparison would be Avis, Hertz, etc but I think that would still be disingenuous. Car rental companies certainly penalize you for abandoning a rental car whereas these scooter/bike rental companies just let you dump them wherever.

The comparison to rentals is dumb imo. I own my own electric scooter. Many people do. This problem has to do with scooter ownership in general, regardless of the owner.

Really you just leave yours anywhere even though you own it?

it's heavy enough that most people dont steal it. i leave my motorcycle sitting out too. Sometimes I lock it up though.

"most people." lol.

One additional thing to think about. Cars in general use what were for thousands of years historically public spaces: the streets. Now, people are pretty much banned from using streets and are relegated to small or nonexistent sidewalks or sparse public parks.

We forget that cities are quite old and cars are very new and our acceptance of streets being for cars isn't actually historically normal and is really a huge concession by cities and citizens to historically public, spaces for walking, commerce, festivals, meetups, musicians, artists, kids, the elderly, etc. The right to freely use and leave bikes/scooters anywhere is simply one tiny push back to this historic uses of streets.

I am all for scooters that are not on the sidewalk. I am all for making it more difficult to own and maintain a car to help eliminate all the problems that they cause.

  We don’t ask GM, Ford, or Toyota to solve car parking, or even 
  pedestrian deaths, traffic, and other car issues. So why are we asking 
  LimeBike, Bird, or Spin to figure out bike/scooter storage?
Lime Bird and Spin own the scooters that are blocking the sidewalk. Not so for Toyota. Zipcars arranges parking for their cars when they are not being rented.

There are car rental services like gig car that don't have dedicated spots and work perfectly. Maybe we can just let people leave the scooters in car parking spots. I'm sure that would go over great.

I own my personally electric scooter. Id like a spot to park too.

This article's author has a chip on the shoulders regarding automobiles:

> pick up their cars and drop them off _anywhere_ in the city

(emphasis mine)

Really? One may not park a car _anywhere_. There are typically laws dictating when, where, and for how long. Whether the laws are respected or enforced are a different matter.

Individuals inconsiderately stranding means of transportation across the city is patently unsafe. I can sure as hell see a car misparked on the sidewalk when walking and avoid it because it is big and in the field of view; but with a bikecycle or scooter there is no guarantee given its small size. Each day feels like game of Mario Kart: am I going to trip over a banana someone left in the streets? FFS.

I would be happy if the cities issued fines/citations to the individuals responsible for improperly discarding the conveyances. A protocol already exists for rental car companies; why not for rental scooters/bikes? This is perfectly solvable.

(I am no defender of automobiles and view even the most urban cities of the United States as hopelessly car-bound.)

>One may not park a car _anywhere_. There are typically laws dictating when, where, and for how long. Whether the laws are respected or enforced are a different matter.

The law is broken so often it might as well not exist AT all, at least in my country. Vigilantes here have started to take pictures of cars that are "parked like shit" to shame the drivers publicly because the law has been insufficient, the punishments not applied often enough or not harsh enough to truly dissuade car drivers from not parking on a sidewalk, bikelane, in front of a shop or even at times directly on a part of a road... http://www.garecommeunemerde.fr/gcum/galerie/

The website gallery isn't showing a tiny minority. I see examples of this every day as soon as I leave my home.

The chip is real! But justified.

Cars have a looot of negative side effects and externalities. Global warming, 30,000 deaths each year in the US alone, expensive infrastructure/mobility, incredibly energy inefficiency, geopolitical instability due to oil and mining, etc, etc.

> even the most urban cities of the United States as hopelessly car-bound.

To be perfectly honest, that's what I thought too,= until this mass adoption of bikes/scooters that came out of nowhere. It's a super interesting development that just might make cities less car dependent.

> _anywhere_

Clarified in the article. The argument was about the user experience of cars: "Automobile parking is all around. From street parking, to business parking lots, to single family homes with driveways and garages, to large parking structures. Thus, the user experience for drivers is essentially go anywhere, park anywhere."

Supported by the observation of what happens when we sometimes can't find parking: frustration. Meaning, we expect to be able to park wherever we go in a city.

It is solvable, typically by city government. No doubt if there are sufficient people annoyed by discarded scooters overcrowding the sidewalks then the city will be compelled to act. The city may designate specific zones for such discarded conveyance, or they may designate zones that are to remain free of such. They may choose to redirect police efforts towards ticketing those "littering" the streets with these devices, or they may choose to ask the police to create a blitz of enforcement, among the various enforcement options. They may choose to revoke the business license for entities providing such conveyances, or they may choose to enact new taxes to pay for the management.

There are many options, and city governments are entirely appropriate to make the choices. I encourage you to take your grievance there.

> There are typically laws dictating when, where, and for how long. Whether the laws are respected or enforced are a different matter.

It's not a "different matter". What affects people's lives is the law as it's experienced and enforced, not what's written in the statute book.

>> These new lightweight EVs keep most of the benefits of cars, cut travel times, are easy and convenient, help flatten hills, increase range, and marginalize fatigue and sweating, without the terrible drawbacks of cars: their enormous weight, size, danger, inefficiency, huge parking costs, pollution, expensive infrastructure, degradation of neighborhoods, etc.

Everybody is trying to sell you something. The worst are trying to sell you what you want. The best are trying to sell you what you need.

Of course, there is always an alternative. In this case: walk everywhere, reduce your risk of a heart attack.

Walking is simply not an alternative for moderate distance with a bike. For example, Google Maps's biking time for a common route near me (train station to university) is 6 minutes. Walking time is 26 minutes. The distance is 2km, so that's 20km/hr biking or about 4km/hr walking. I've tested this with longer distances and it seems to hold. In my experience, Google's biking speed is fairly spot on for me, and its walking speed is a bit faster than I walk. So I'd imagine that biking is at least six times faster than walking for me personally.

Also, if I really have somewhere to be, I can bike substantially faster and be OK, but running for half an hour with a heavy backpack and bags is much harder.

I spend a decent amount of time getting around on a bike - an hour and a half yesterday, maybe a half an hour today, so just the last two days alone I'd have spent twelve hours walking! That's totally unacceptable.

Finally, I imagine that biking (although easier) isn't that much less healthy than walking. Still much healthier than driving.

Walking BEST. Biking, second best. If too far, too hot, too steep, e-bikes third best.

Plus good public transportation.

The management community at the apartment complex I live in (Wash. DC) has issued notices to all residents about parking bikes/scooters physically on their property. The main point being to avoid blocking ingress and egress points into the buildings themselves, but also gives the private property owner a way to force the problem onto the City.

This leads to large groups of bikes all colocated on the nearest sidewalk, safely in the public domain. From a practical standpoint this is an issue when the sidewalk gets fully blocked, although it is not an everyday situation.

The problem isn't parking, the problem is that to work well they need dedicated lanes. I agree that this should happen but it's not as easy as taking a parking space per block - you'd have to eliminate half of all the parking or reduce the number of car lanes or something.

You ride on the side of the road, like with bikes.

Nobody really does dockless bikes with their personal bikes because of theft.

Have you tried that with a scooter? It's not pleasant.

For bikes, sure.

I do it with a boosted board, which is even worse.

These e-scooters are not your typical kid scooters, they have pneumatic tires, and those tires are bigger than the 80-90mm skateboard tires that are available on electric skateboards.

Here is one example: http://www.mi.com/us/mi-electric-scooter/

I've only tried the Birds but it was awful.

California's roads are pretty horrible. If you live somewhere where they actually maintain roads, it's a lot nicer.

This story total propaganda and a load of horse manure.

They are not green. They are not convenient. And cityfolk hate them. Go back to LA bros.

This article reeks of spin. I'll bet real money that it's a PR piece.

Yes the all powerful bike lobby

Is there some reason you think these companies aren't using some of their VC money for this PR war?

Ya, Have A Go is now totally drowning in all the bike lobby cash. Please don't tell anyone!

In all seriousness, Have A Go is not affiliated with any bike sharing/renting companies. If you visit our site, you'll see that we are actually based on the ownership model. Our mission is to help transition us to green, healthy, fun, affordable, and efficient modes of personal mobility, and that's why we wrote this piece! Not because of the $13,500 dollars we received......d'oh!!!

Thank you for clarifying that. I find your position on the subject indistinguishable from what I'd expect of PR spin, but I'll take your word that your motivation isn't financial.

No problem :) Here's the mission statement that I wrote out a year ago, hopefully clarifying my motivations: http://haveago.city/our-vision/

But to be 100% honest, if I was offered payment, I would consider it. Reason being: I truly believe in lightweight electric mobility and have dedicated full-time hours to help expand their use. In exploring ways of making this financially sustainable, if it's consult fees, so be it! If that happens, I'll disclose.

As for sounding PR-y, I hope you'll judge the post again on its merits. I've been very influenced by the wealth of urban planning literature indicating how walking/biking make for great, rich, and pleasant cities and how cars make for dangerous streets and negatively affect communities. I also live in LA and find it very frustrating that we have so much poverty/homeless here and that access to affordable mobility like bikes without risking ones life isn't an option since cars are so dominant.

So I'm genuinely excited and hopeful for any prospect of shifting our mobility away from them.

Down voted by the PR firm? Inquiring minds want to know...

> Dockless bikes and scooters are not actually the problem.

> For decades now, cars have gotten the royal treatment. Users were able to pick up their cars and drop them off anywhere in the city. It was simply expected that anywhere one goes in a city, one could be guaranteed a free, giant space to park one’s private 4000 pound box, no questions asked. Sure, in some dense areas, payment is now required. Yet private vehicle parking is basically considered a right. We know this because when we can’t find parking for more than two minutes, we get upset. 5 minutes? We get very upset.

Isn't this a false comparison? You're not allowed to park your car in any random place you like, you're required to park in specially marked and designated areas. For instance, I can't park my car in the middle of a street or in a park without getting it ticketed and towed. Isn't the big nuisance of dockless bikes that they are literally littered on sidewalks and other public spaces?

I don't recall there being any uproar about docked bike rentals, which are much more comparable to the current situation with cars.

> You're not allowed to park your car in any random place you like

You can probably get away with parking illegally more often than you imagine. (Note that I'm not saying that you should, or excusing bad behavior from dockless bike users.)

Take an example from the article: cars illegally parked in the bike lane. In my experience* most drivers who park in the bike lane do so out of convenience, not a lack of options. I imagine the same is true for dockless bikes/scooters. Many people are either oblivious or aware but don't care that others are irritated or harmed.

* Which may differ from yours. See here for details: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16603294

It is not illegal to park a car in the bike lane in California. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/pubs/hdbk/traffic_l...

I'm having a hard time imagining how you could park in a bike lane without blocking bicyclists. "You may park in a bicycle lane if your vehicle does not block a bicyclist and/or there is not a “No Parking” sign posted."

We have the same law in my city. The answer is that, and I'm honestly not trying to be snarky here, the bike lanes are very often deserted. The seem to be placed in areas and roads that are woefully inappropriate so that some city planner can go to a conference a talk about how green and progressive the city is.

I'm a cyclist, and I largely agree. I think it might come more down to meeting some sort of quota, but the goal of "looking progressive/green" is still the main motivation.

Many bike lanes Austin has added or "enhanced" in the past 5 years I've lived here were wastes of time and money, or even worse than what was present before.

The cycle track on Guadalupe is a good example of an "improvement" that was actually worse. It's not deserted, but I almost never use it because it makes cyclists much less visible. Far too often a driver will turn without checking for oncoming cyclists. No thanks, I take the lane. Not that I'm that much slower than traffic there anyway. The speed limit is 35 mph and it's downhill, so going 30 mph isn't that hard. It would have made a lot more sense to add the cycle track on the uphill side of the road, though that wouldn't solve the visibility problem.

(The installation of the cycle track also greatly increased the number of wrong-way cyclists. I've found that these cyclists firmly believe that going the wrong way is safer. The statistics show quite clearly otherwise.)

I think a better solution is for drivers to get used to cyclists being on the road. Driving slower for a couple minutes at most before you can safely pass a cyclist is nowhere near as bad as most drivers seem to think it is. Some drivers become livid...

"You may park in a bicycle lane if your vehicle does not block a bicyclist and/or there is not a “No Parking” sign posted"

You cannot completely block a bicycle lane, but part of your vehicle can partly cover the lane.

My impression is that local laws, not state laws, make parking in the bike lane illegal in many cases.

In Austin, TX, parking in the bike lane is generally legal unless the signs specifically say it's not. The city has slowly been changing the signs, but there are many bike lanes where parking is perfectly legal.

The argument here is that wherever you go in a city, automobile parking is all around. From street parking, to business parking lots, to single family homes with driveways and garages, to large parking structures. Thus, the user experience for drivers is essentially go anywhere, park anywhere. That convenient user experience is what dockless is allowing for. So cities should strive to quickly figure out how to make scooter/bike parking as ubiquitous as cars. The fact that they haven't already done so shows their implicit bias.

I think part of the problem is the lack of space to "park" a bike. You might be lucky to find one or maybe two bike racks per block compared to how many parking spaces? If I ride my bike to the bar to meet a couple friends I might have to lock my bike up a block or two away because that is the only rack around.

If that, I often find I have to lock my bike to a street sign or parking meter frequently.

Parking meters in Montreal have bike rings. It's ingenious, in a sense.

Sure, let's devote two lanes on every road to bike parking and I will never again leave a bike in unmarked spaces.

Add two lanes for riding the bike and I'll also stop interfering with car traffic.

In NYC, there were a few fights over docked bike rentals. For example: http://gothamist.com/2013/04/30/west_village_nimbys_file_fut...

But even for regular bikes, it can be an issue when there is not enough parking. Here in Cambridge, over the last few years, the city has installed a fairly large number of parking rings for locking up bikes, and it still can't keep up. And don't even get me started on parking lots at supermarkets, etc., that don't have any racks or have crappy racks made for kids' bikes.

The terrible quality bike racks are a major problem. Thanks for pointing this problem out.

I'm particularly irritated by racks which are so close to buildings that they can only be used at half capacity. Whoever installed them obviously has no idea how they are used.

In Austin, many bike racks also are coated in bird poop, though I'm not sure what can be done about this aside from regularly cleaning the racks. I never ran into this problem anywhere else.

> In Austin, many bike racks also are coated in bird poop, though I'm not sure what can be done about this aside from regularly cleaning the racks. I never ran into this problem anywhere else.

Presumably because the racks are underneath trees or shade (which the grackles also like) to avoid baking your bike in the sun.

Austin gets really hot in the summer and non-reflective surfaces can get hot enough to impart burns.

People keep posting about "dockless cars" when these situations come up, some how ignoreing that vehicles are parked in designated areas as you said, and that it's people's personal vehicles and not companies private fleets that they are charging use for.

I think that modern cities have way too much space allocated to car parking but it is in no way equivalent to a company pushing off one of their major costs onto society

it's people's personal vehicles and not companies private fleets that they are charging use for.

Isn't that worse? If they were car share cars, then at least local residents would be able to use them, but instead, all of those cars parked on city streets are usable by only a single person each.

For example, the city street I used to live on had around 250 housing units and about 40 street parking spaces. It would have been nicer if those 40 cars were car-share cars rather than being tied up by the 40 residents that got there first.

No I don't believe that at all. Part of the money you pay for share cars would be going into someone's pockets. It's literally a negative externality that they are pushing onto society. Sometimes those negative externalities are worth the benefits that a business brings around but that's not a garunteed or even common occurrence and it shouldn't just be assumed to be a positive

Part of the money that I pay for my own car goes in someone's pockets, so I don't understand why that matters.

But when I lived in that city, I'd have paid far less overall if I used car-share instead of owning my own car. When I park my own car on the public street, that space is dedicated 100% to me. When a car-share car is parked there, then several people benefit from that space.

Here's some uproar about docked bike rentals: https://sf.curbed.com/2017/7/18/15986716/ford-gobike-mission...

People were upset the docks were taking up parking and/or drop off space.

basically, humans are selfish and unthinking, and won't notice anything unless it annoys them.

the market stabilizes at the benefit-annoyance intersection.

this means bikes, ride sharing, internet, tv, autonomous cars will all annoying be as hell but not quite annoying enough to quit doing it. this of course sucks and is why there should be regulations.

So cities should subsidize your multi-million-dollar operation by reducing urban on-street parking inventory and donating that space to you? Okay, but here's some free advice about how cities work: You won't get that by writing internet blog posts that contain false equivalencies (ie scooter rental companies and car manufacturers). You'll get it by wining and dining a lot of city councilpersons. Best get started.

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