When I went to Montreal a million years ago (ok, four years ago), I was enthralled with their “Bixi” city bicycle share. The bright red bikes were tantalizing, and I wanted so badly to rent one and pedal down the physically separated bicycle lanes, pretending that I was French Canadian.
Alas, it was my first solo trip for pleasure. Also my first solo trip abroad. I didn’t have the nerves yet to risk biking in another country when I didn’t even know the local word for “HOSPITAL”. The years passed and I’ve changed my tune. I love traveling alone, and I love biking while traveling, whether I’m in DC or Cambodia. I haven’t had an international accident yet, fingers crossed.
So needless to say I’m pretty psyched about the new Bay Area Bicycle Share, which launched today! The stations in San Francisco are in tourist hotspots (downtown, Chinatown, along the water), which makes sense, since the bikes are intended for short trips- 30 min or so. I’m honestly not sure how these bikes help with the “last mile” problem, since all of this area is covered by public transport, but whatever.
I took the above photo the other day. I think it explains San Francisco pretty well. All the walks of life are represented 🙂 . The Asian businessman with an open container of beer, the Civic Center rabblerousers, European tourists, random teenagers, commuters. We’re all here, and we all want to poke and prod the gorgeous new bikes.
Prices seem pretty reasonable- 9$ for a day membership, 22$ for 3 days, and then you can also do a full year’s membership for 88$. Having a membership offers you unlimited 30 min rides during your time period. I have a bike but I have to admit I would love to try BABS out. Good for those nights I don’t want to drag my bike out, but need to get around fast.
Ooo it matches my satchel. Lovely, but not what I would want in a bike.
They made this bike porn video for the launch of the bike, but it’s a little over the top. Note the puppy, cupcakes, and stack of pink boxes. Overkill.
After a while it hit me- I thought to myself… Oh great… now bikes are in. Now that marketers have deemed it so bikes are cool again and are not just for poor or environmentally conscious people (I guess that’s how I would describe myself). Even pretty people with money can ride bikes now too.
Turns out I wasn’t going crazy, bikes are IN IN IN. The other day I heard a story on NPR’s Marketwatch that highlighted the trend of using cruiser/Dutch style bikes in retail displays. You know shit gets real when Marketwatch is all over it!
One thing that the story brought to my attention that I hadn’t considered before is that in some cases the bikes are specially designed in a collaboration between the bicycle manufacturer and the brands. Also you can buyÂ the bikes in store! What?! It just hadn’t occurred to me before! Yes I want to buy a t-shirt, a couch, and a bike in the same shop! Yes! Yes! Yes!
I don’t think that Kate Spade/Gap/whatever are speaking to my values any more now than they were before, but I do support the side effects of being marketed to in this way. Bringing somewhat obscure bikemakers into the everyday retail world? Very cool.Encouraging the general public to ride a bike? Awesome. Celebrating beautiful bikes? Oh yes.