Tuesday, July 3, 2012

KC's New Bike Sharing Program That Isn't

When I first heard of the new bike sharing program being offered in Kansas City I thought, "What an interesting idea."  Then I wondered how they would keep people from just riding off with the bikes and keeping them.  Then I looked into the program and realized it's not a sharing program at all, but a bike rental service.

In order to use one of the bikes, riders have to pony up $7 a day or pay an annual fee of $65.  You then only get to ride for 30 minutes, after that you'll be hit with a $2 per 30 minutes.  Don't think about keeping the bike either, they won't hesitate to bill you the $2,000 bike replacement cost.

Oh, and since you can only pay via credit card, apparently KC's vehicle-less poor population, the ones who stand to benefit most from a true bike sharing program, will still have to resort to huffing it on foot or via the city's inconvenient bus system to get where they want to go.

If you are looking for a unique capitalist endeavor designed to trick uppity white liberals into thinking they are part of some big socialist experiment, look no further than B-cycle, the bicycle sharing program that isn't.


Anonymous said...

$65 per year for a B-cycle membership, vs. ~$8000 per year to own and operate a car.

Hmmm, which option is more accessible to people of limited means?

theKansasCitian said...

You are confusing two completely separate points to try and make a strawman argument.

First, it would be cheaper for people who have cars to drive based on the cost of a gallon of gas and mileage versus the per half hour bike "rental" fee.

Second, the reason the poor can't participate isn't the cost, it's the requirement of a credit card. Most poor don't even have bank accounts, let alone the credit necessary to get a Visa or MasterCard.

Just to point out the ludicrousness of your argument, you claim the poor person in your example would have to pay $8,000 per year, which equates to $666 per month. I suppose the devil is in the details, sort of speak, because as I am sure you are aware, unless you are driving a new BMW or other luxury vehicle, you won't be paying any where near $666 per month.

One can get state minimum insurance for $30 per month. They can purchase a moped out right for under $1,000, or they could head down to any of the used car lots and get a pretty decent vehicle for under $5,000, which means in most cases there would be no monthly car payment. So you are left with just insurance and gas. If you live so close to work you can ride a rental bike, you would need to fill up more than once a month. So at most we are talking around $60 per month expense for the car. Versus $7 a day or $65 per year, plus $2 per half hour for the bike. And let's not forget the time lost. One can drive in 5 minutes the distance they can go on a bike in 30.

Anonymous said...

AAA pegs it at nearly $9000: "The 2012 Your Driving Costs study by AAA has found that the cost of owning and operating a car in the U.S. has gone up nearly 2 percent over the previous year on average, bringing the average costs to 59.6 cents per mile, or $8,946 annually, based on driving an average of 15,000 miles."


theKansasCitian said...

Once again you are trying to prove a point that was never made. We are talking about the poor here, not the entire U.S. population. So your stat of average price paid is totally irrelevant as it includes what the rich and middle class pay. If you want a more accurate number you need to look at the mean of the bottom quartile from the survey. Of course, I am sure they didn't publish that one.

You will also note from that study that 40% of the costs are depreciation, which can hardly be considered a cost as the purchase price of the vehicle is a sunk cost. Another 10% is finance costs, which quite simply would not exist on a used car which can be purchased for a couple thousand or less. So right away you have to back out half the costs. Now you are down to about $350/mo, and that includes the average cost of insurance, which is quite a ways of from state minimum. In this study it said the average was around $1100, so we can back another $75 off that monthly total being it to $275. Than once we decrease fuel and maintenance for a person that lives within 5 miles of the majority of the places they need to travel, as is the case for those who can use the b-cycle, we are right back to where I said.

Again, this wasn't even a point made in the original post as the entire reason the poor cannot partake is because of the credit card requirement.

But thanks for playing.