Salem Reporter has the unsurprising news that the public bike rental program is nearly certain to be dissolved.
One detail in it was particularly interesting. In July of 2021, Ride Salem claimed to have about 2000 rides on 33 bikes. That's very near two rides per bike per day. That's slightly above industry averages. So that's a good number. Maybe not great, but good. (With a much larger system Eugene at launch had three, you may recall.)
Still, the piece places most of the blame on theft and vandalism, but does not look at how systems in Portland, Eugene, Corvallis, and Bend cope with those problems. Theft and vandalism have not shut down systems in Portland and Eugene. (I have not followed Corvallis and Bend much, and do not know about those.)
Additionally, consideration of the prospect of shutting down does not look at structural problems with the system.
Those July 2021 numbers came mostly in Riverfront Park. It was a recreational park amenity, never a part of the transportation mix in the streets. With a small number of hubs and few bike lanes downtown, the system was inaccessible for casual cyclists except on park paths.
|A new station right before Pandemic shutdown|
You may recall the hoopla when the Amtrak hub was launched. But a person couldn't actually ride home from the train. Because all the hubs were downtown, you'd have to travel back downtown to return the bike - making two extra trips! You need hubs in neighborhood areas to be able to ride home from the train.
So a real ingredient in the ending of the system is that it was too small, and the City did not think it necessary to support ordinary people who might like to bike occasionally (as distinct from committed cyclists who brave the crappy lanes anyway) with a better bike lane system, especially downtown where the hubs were concentrated.
|from Walkable City Rules|
|We need better bike lanes downtown!|
The City found it more useful as a symbol of hipness than as a usefully functioning system.
And now the problem with theft and vandalism may be a convenient cudgel for complaints about people who are camping and bike chop shops.
For all previous notes on the public bike rental system, see here, in particular these early notes: