Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bike-share in Isla Vista

Bike share programs have been around for decades. New programs are sprouting in major cities around the globe with high-tech anti-theft devices and pay-in programs with swipe cards, etc. I, for one, don't think these programs need to cost any real money to succeed; especially in the unique environment known as Isla Vista. Arguably, Isla Vista already has such program in effect, albeit "unofficial". Here's my proposal: (1) Have the UCPD and IVFP register all the abandoned bikes as UCPD property; (2) encourage departing residents of UCPD and I.V. to donate their bikes to the program; (3) solicit volunteers and local bike shops to repair them and paint them yellow (a nice UC color), (4) distribute them around campus and I.V., (5) make it an infraction to lock them, put them in a gated area or behind closed doors, leave them parked on a street or sidewalk, take them outside of a five mile radius or to deface them in any way. Since they would be UCPD property, it would be a misdemeanor to take them with the intent to permanently deprive its owner of them. (6) Make clear that they are to be shared in the true spirit of sharing; in other words, no crying when someone takes one that you parked outside a lecture hall with the expectation that it would be there when you got out. If it's not, walk until you see another one.

Such a program would make a dent in the bike theft problem at UCSB and I.V. At the very least it would reduce the number of people who are criminalized for taking a bike that they believe to be abandoned (which may turn out to be reported stolen). And, it would save the students money they might otherwise spend on bikes, bike locks, and gas. It could possibly reduce green house gas emissions a bit, and promote biking as a viable mode of public transportation. Reduced bike theft, and dragnets by the UCPD to crack down on them, might even mean savings for the tax and tuition payer in terms of reducing the numbers of paid staff whose responsibilities include bike theft suppression efforts.

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