Yellow Bike Program Launches

krues8dr writes: I just heard on 3WV that the yellow bike program will be launching today. They said something about a parade or something downtown, starting from City Hall, and that the public was invited to come down and join in the festivities.

It’s at the east end of the Downtown Mall, at 11:45…I think. Between krues8dr and I, there’s just enough information here to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. I’ll be there!

14 thoughts on “Yellow Bike Program Launches”

  1. Predictions, anyone?

    I hope the program succeeds — ultimately, I suppose, in getting more folks on bikes and, perhaps therefore, greater allocation of road space and transportation dollars to cyclists. But I won’t hold my breath.

  2. Yes, just to confirm the information is correct. The program will debut at 11:45 in front of City Hall today. They are putting out about 50 bicycles today. This entire program is built on volunteers so show your support!

    Also, in the spirit of transportation–after the Yellow Bike debut check out the Festival of the Book event from 12-1:30pm in the McInitire Room, Central Library titled “How We Get There Matters”. Author William Morrish will be speaking about his book Planning To Stay.

    Tobin Scipione

    Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation

  3. I just took the first bike for an inaugural ride from City Hall to Computers4Kids (10th and W. Main) and back. The bicycle was ill-fitting, rickety, difficult to pedal. In short, I loved it. The lack of gears means that it’s a little difficult to go up hills or get up above 15mph on a straightaway, though I think that there’s really not anything particularly wrong with the latter.

    When I was finished, I left the bike on the west end of the Mall for others to use. Based on the stares of pedestrians, I suspect that it’s probably in use as I type this.

  4. I was walking down East Market today and saw a yellow bike leaning against a CTS stop sign. I got on and went about ten feet and then discovered that the rear brakes were not working. I told my daughter who laughed and told me that a friend from school had tried one and the chain broke as soon as she started to peddle. Putting poorly repaired junk on the street is not going to encourage anybody to use the bikes. I just hope nobody gets hurt but if they do I hope the people behind this doomed venture are the ones that get sued and not the city.

  5. Thursday night around 9:30 pm, I saw one of the bikes laying on the sidewalk at the corner of University and 14th Street. A Charlottesville police officer picked it up and moved it. I think to the bike rack thats there, I was in my car.

    Then this morning (Saturday) on my way to work I saw another bike leaning against a CTS Bus sign at Fry’s Spring and then a another one laying in the parking lot across from the Omni.

    With what I have read already regarding poorly repaired bikes and the fact that I have now seen 3 abandoned, will this program succeed?

    I haven’t seen one in the provided racks for me to even try out.

  6. I really think this project is doomed. Too much is based on honesty and our society has changed so much honesty, for the most part, has gone out the window. Just like politeness.

  7. Over the past two nites I’ve seen several youths from the Garrett Square area riding the bikes up and down the Downtown Mall. Biking, of course, isn’t allowed on the mall, and I don’t know for sure that these bikes are being returned, either.

    Another vote for the “this is doomed” group.

  8. Perhaps, or we could think of this as a step in the direction of a more perfect society, where we respect our fellow man. Enlightening communism? Perhaps, but there’s nothing wrong with at least trying to build a world built on trust.

  9. Over the past two nites I’ve seen several youths from the Garrett Square area riding the bikes up and down the Downtown Mall

    How do you know where they were from?

  10. I am all for the free bike program, but I feel that here in Charlottesville it might fail. The reason I feel this way is the blatant lack of respect for personal property these days. I do realize that the free bike programs of Portland and in Europe are very sucessful. When I look around here, one week after the program was launched, and I cannot find a bike anywhere, though, I am very disappointed, b/c I believe that some of the bikes may be “lost” forever. I saw a bike, over the weekend at the rack near Starr Hill, with NO front tire and a severely damaged rear tire. I’ve also had a couple of friends mention various places that they have seen bikes such as the K-Mart parking lot on 29N (I guess the person was leaving it at the bus stop there). I just hope that this investment has not gone the way of the Christmas tree of two years ago (wasted money).

  11. I’m very sorry to say that I think the project is doomed. In less than a week, every bike is missing or trashed. I have heard several reports of children seen trashing them by rolling them down hills, taking parts, dropping them in ditches, etc. It’s too bad that we live in a society where there aren’t consequences for selfish behavior and where kids aren’t supervised or taught to respect others.

  12. Yep, I haven’t seen one in days either. Last time I did two kids were joy-riding on the sidewalk.


    Daily Progress staff writer

    The 53 yellow bikes deployed along Charlottesville’s Main Street corridor less than two weeks ago are getting scarcer and scarcer, particularly on the racks where residents interested in a free ride are supposed to be able to find them.

    An unscientific survey Friday afternoon of the six racks from the east end of the Downtown Mall to the University of Virginia turned up one bike, in front of the Starbucks on the Corner. One of the racks, on the corner of West Main and West 11th streets, had been damaged.

    Besides a damaged bike near the garbage bin at Buford Middle School, a total of four more yellow bikes — with riders — could be seen in the surrounding areas: two near the mall, and two on Prospect Avenue.

    Still, the organizers of the much-heralded program, which provides repaired and repainted second-hand bikes for public use, say the disappearances don’t worry them.

    “Why should you mind that much?” said Satyendra S. Huja, the city administrator working with the program. “First of all, they are only stolen bikes to start with. Of course you don’t want people to steal them, but that’s going to happen.”

    The program, which got off the ground with $4,500 from the Dave Matthews Band and $500 from the city, is run with volunteer labor. Organizers expected a rash of disappearances early in the program and believe things will settle down with time, Huja said Friday.

    Besides, said Stephen Bach, the head of the nonprofit group that runs the program, it’s tough to say the missing bikes were stolen. For one thing, he said, the organizers never expected they would all make it back to the racks.

    His response to potential riders counting on finding them there: “We aren’t making any promises here. These are bikes that are going to be available by chance. … What we’re doing is putting the bikes out there, and if people find them, great.”

    Program volunteers will answer phone calls to pick up stray yellow bikes from around the city, though there are no plans to perform regular roundups, he said. Another 25 or so bikes are in storage, Bach added, though some work on them remains to be done.

    In another, more philosophical argument, Bach cast doubt on whether it’s even possible to steal something that’s free. “They can’t be stolen,” he said, though he conceded, “They can be vandalized, and we have had some of that.”

    For example, many of the bikes now are without the legal disclaimer signs mounted on them by Bach’s group, Community Yellow Bikes of the Piedmont. Others — like the yellow bike at Buford, which had two bent tires — have sustained more serious injuries.

    Bach called those cases “disheartening,” but said he remains committed to the program — though he isn’t sure where money for future operations will come from.

    “I have Buddhist tendencies, so I just look at it as a little test,” he said. “Different people handle things like this in different ways, but for me, this is the way the world is, so are you going to go on in spite of it or are you going to let it get you down? Well, I’m not going to let it get me down.”

    Anyone wishing to report the whereabouts of a stray yellow bike, or to donate a bike to the program, is asked to call Stephen Bach at 963-9224.

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