WHAT’S THE POINT — Some people are saying the city has lost its mind, its direction and is a rudderless ship. They are basing these statements on the poor roll out of those new bus stops, and it’s only going to get worse so long as we continue to do things like pay $5,600,000 for 500 bicycles. That’s an average cost of $11,200 per bike. Not including the contract extensions that bring the price tag over $10,000,000.

I realize that these bikes are GPS enabled, high end, and have lots of bells and whistles. I also realize that the initial contract pricing is including the setting up of an infrastructure to administer and maintain a bike share program. As the city grapples with the crushing reality that we are soon to be the terminus of the Expo line we need to have plans in place to take people that “last mile” from the station to their offices or final destination.

Having a bike share program seems like a good idea, and I’m not against it in theory, and I may even like it in practice. However, it seems to me that there is a great deal of cost being borne that could be shouldered on others even though the city has plans to seek out sponsorships to offset the costs, as well as having user’s pay for the bikes ala taxi style. You pay for how much you ride and you can buy chunks of time in bulk.

Essentially it is a short-term rental program, just like Zip Car where you only pay for what you use. I suppose that it could become a moneymaker for the city the same way that parking meters have. You have noticed the way in which the city has upped the parking meters haven’t you?

The hours are now longer across the city, the rates are now higher and you have more of the pernicious evil little machines on every block. Perhaps it’s all part of a grand plan to make life in the city by the sea too expensive for those “low income” tenants. I’m serious, it’s kinda funny how the city on the hand is so concerned with providing low income housing and on the other finding every conceivable way to make it more expensive to live here for everyone.

Parking has become a daily expense of approximately $5 between the meters, the lots and the garages. Now the city wants to make bikes available, but they’re renting them out at a proposed $6 an hour unless you buy in bulk.

This is great for the commuters who will be coming in and working here but is that something that the city should be funding? Should the Chamber of commerce be doing this? Or perhaps the Business Interest Districts? Or perhaps the mega-developers who are bringing in the new businesses and employees? How about those new companies? Can’t they provide for their employees?This sounds like a subsidy for employers at the expense of the residents.

For the residents we have the obvious solution of just buying a bike and then we wouldn’t have to pay rental fees. The city however is not making this as attractive an option as you’d think. Between the dangers of being on the overcrowded roads and the police being too busy enforcing the ‘no talking on cell phone’ laws (which seem to carry a higher fine and penalty) than dealing with making the roads safe for bicyclists; being on a bike is an exercise in crisis management.

While I applaud the idea of making this a bike friendly city, I’m not so enthused about the high cost of providing what amounts to a few bikes, and only for people who can afford them at a high cost to the city.

We should be considering other options like The Free Ride (www.thefreeride.com) that is offered out of the Loews Hotel and is an all electric, multi-passenger system that is paid for by corporate sponsors and is run at no cost to the city. Then they could put the millions spent on bikes subsidizing a system for a few, who don’t live here, towards resolving the Civic Center structural problems and crafting a long term solution, which benefits the many who actually live here.

 

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist.He welcomes your questions and comments.He can be reached atdpisarra@pisarra.comor (310) 664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra

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