Thursday, September 06, 2018

The future of transit

No bicycles

Kristin Palmer introduced an ordinance today. At least, it was on the agenda today. I haven't seen any reporting from the meeting yet so I don't know what its status is currently. (Aside: There are far fewer reporters on the City Hall beat these days. And what they produce is not as consistently detailed as it once was either. I assume Kevin Litten will have something pretty decent out by the end of the day but it's no guarantee anyone else will. So it goes.)  Anyway the ordinance says you can't park your bike pretty much anywhere anymore.

I've been trying to figure out for a while now what the big obsession is with bike parking. I see signage like that photo at the top of this post all over town lately.  That's still a mystery to me. But I do know what Palmer's issue is. She wants to adjust the law in a way that makes it easier for the scooter rental companies to operate.

With input from Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration, District C Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer is drafting three ordinances to regulate app-based electric scooter rental companies, which have moved rapidly into U.S. cities and are prepared to roll out in New Orleans.

But Palmer wants to pump the brakes until her office has put together a package that’s “enforceable and good for the public,” with laws that build out the city’s two-wheeled infrastructure and prevent New Orleans from falling into the same kinds of legal problems and traffic headaches that have cropped up in the scooters’ wake across the country.
Sorry if that inconveniences any of Palmer's actual constituents. But it's important to make sure we're going out of the way to accommodate these universally praised scooter operators
It’s the most recent leg in a race to replace or compete with the entire concept of mass transit, “disrupted” by companies with billion-dollar valuations. Companies now have inserted themselves into the public part of public transit with an ad hoc network of "shared" bikes, scooters and cars. And those companies are moving quickly to shape the future of transit — “public” in nature but private in its terms. A $2 bus or streetcar fare is replaced with a $10 Uber ride. Bike rentals (or “bikeshare”) kiosks dot popular urban centers, adding more options for transit in areas already dense with them.
And who doesn't want to be part of "the future of transit," right? Specifically the part you will play is ceding your right to share the commons so that Lime can profit from "sharing"  its products.

Update Council passed this rule unanimously.  Palmer says they've accounted for the bike parking problem.
But the rule passed Thursday seeks to address one earlier concern: that bikes attached to stop signs or poles might be pulled off city streets if bike racks are full or absent in neighborhoods where they travel.

It also paves the way for plans to store dockless scooters in spots marked by painted lines on city streets.

“We want to ensure that there’s no collateral damage in terms of the removal of bicycles that can be chained (to spots other than bike racks), due to lack adequate safe bike parking,” said City Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, who chairs the council’s transportation committee and has led the effort to usher in scooter share.

The wording was a change from what was proposed previously.
What she means is they won't come take your bike if it's locked up. But she adds, "due to lack of adequate safe bike parking" which suggests there may come a point when they deem the parking "adequate" such that they can make you stop tying up to posts and signs. She says they're working on that now.
Palmer said at the time that she would work with the city to install more racks. City crews are also planning to stripe portions of streets with lines designating parking for scooters and bikes, a step that would cost less. 

But while those plans are being finetuned, people will still be allowed to lock up their bicycles to posts and poles, as they do now, she said Thursday. Scooters won't be allowed on city sidewalks, but plans are in the works to carve out space for them on city streets, council staffers said.
In other words, they're still coming for your bike. Just not yet. 

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