When in the course of human events it becomes necessary…no, that is too dire a tone. But there is something we must discuss, fellow Charlotteans, something affecting our fair city. It’s bike sharing, in particular the proliferation of “smart” bikes. I have concerns.
I don’t question the value proposition – hourly pay for anticipated bike-riding time – although I do wonder what happens if you time out while coasting downhill. It’s the dockless part I dislike, the ability to leave a bike anywhere you please. Was even one solitary parent consulted before this venture was greenlighted?
To ask is to answer. Bikes, just left anywhere? What are we, Bohemians? We don’t tolerate bikes strewn about our driveways; why should we celebrate them ditched alongside our thoroughfares? We are Charlotte, we bank the world. Surely we can put away our toys.
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Truth? I thought it was great the first morning I saw a gaggle of bikes kick-standing together on the sidewalk. How quaint, I thought. Jimmy and Cliff must be running in for nightcrawlers before heading to their favorite fishing hole. But then I realized there’s no fishing hole or bait shop in uptown, and I haven’t listened to Jimmy Cliff in years.
Here’s my concern. Today they come for our sidewalks, but tomorrow they’ll come for our roads. And we who commute via Fourth Street already have lost one lane to the unofficial morning “kiss & ride” outside the courthouse. What happens when a second lane is blocked, this time by languidly parked smart bikes?
Hyperbole, you say? I’m not so sure. I’ve seen smart bikes left in the strangest of places, like in front of a funeral home. Seriously, who is coming out of that dark place as whimsical as a teen in a Mentos commercial? Other bikes are left literally in the middle of nowhere, leaving me unable to rule out alien abduction.
Many see dockless bike sharing as a feather in our cap, another great thing that’s found its way from afar to the Queen City, like Flywheel and men who wear scarves but no overcoat. I see it as the newest front in a larger war, one we’ll surely lose if we don’t wise up.
After all, something doesn’t become a good idea just by adding “share” to the end of it. Examples include Lunch Share, where at participating restaurants members can graze off of each other’s plates, and Pants Share, where trunks can be snapped off anywhere like NBA tear-aways for exchange with fellow patrons. Both terrible ideas.
Don’t you see the pattern? It’s people not finishing what they’ve started, adding “share” to the end of it and indulging in self-congratulatory high-fives over quinoa. That’s not innovation. It’s insubordination. Plus if I’m being honest, the whole bike sharing thing gives me a “Children of the Corn” vibe.
Will I take flak from the smart set for voicing these “get off my lawn” sentiments? Probably. But you draw the heaviest fire when you’re over the target, and the mission is bigger than one man, anyway. That mission is this: Keep Charlotte Beautiful - Put Your Bike Away.
Mike Kerrigan is an attorney in Charlotte. Email: Mikekerrigan29