6.02.2012

Charles Hurt and his ANTI-BIKESHARE Rant

last week Charles Hurt wrote a piece for The Washington Times about Capital Bikeshare
it was a feeble attempt to be clever, cute, and conservative
well... it was conservative but fell short of being clever and cute
in the end it did achieve its goals... IT GOT HITS! IT GOT ATTENTION!
more than likely Charles Hurt's editor gave him a solid pat on the back congratulating him for stirring up a hornets nest

City Paper calls the article "sexist"
The Huffington Post made mention

and DCist may have had the best rebuttal... response... reaction
good work Martin!

I also tried to get something together... but was a little slow out of the gate
here is what I started but never finished
I will give it a glance then hit PUBLISH AND POST
here is what I said...

Earlier this week there was an article in the Washington Times about the several year old bike share system in Washington, DC, before going any further we must make note of the source and understand something for ourselves; The Washington Times not The New York Times, this is made clear from the start.

“Unlike Sarah Palin or Tina Fey, or whoever it was, I really can see Russia from my front porch. Or, at least, I can see broken-down socialism.”

Well, if the audience of The Washington Times is in fact comprised of Washingtonians… then most any adult aged reader would recognize the Russia reference and be able to tell the difference between Sarah Palin and Tina Fey. I think his confusion is  in “Tina Fey-lin,” where Tina Fey returned to Saturday Night Live to spoof the Alaskan Hockey Mom and her lofty political ambitions.  A quick GOOGLE could act as this hard hitting reporters fact checking to reveal that it was in fact Tina Fey in character as Sarah Palin who said; “I can see Russia from my house.”  But that is neither here nor there… the article goes on to attack any and all who ride the Capital Bikeshare Bikes.


This referencing an alleged Sarah Palin quote about her ability to see Russia from her front yard is an effort to start his rant about Capital Bikeshare which apparently has a station across the street from his house. From there he tries to tie some sort of link between the red Capital Bikeshare bikes and Communism.

SNL CLIP

In this Washington Times article Charles Hurt goes on making less than clever Cold War style cracks on the red Capital Bikeshare bikes and it users. I will admit that I had to GOOGLE “broken down socialism.” And well, I am not sure if I found a clear definition, but I was able to understand its context well enough. In Washington DC local news is world news and world news is local news. Our local papers are the newspapers of the world. The Washington Times may not have the circulation of The Washington Post, but it more than likely circulates around the globe.

In addition the author’s agitation with the bikes, the design, the weight, their color, the noises they make, and their communal nature. The writer also attacks it users. When hurt tries to claim that the riders of these red bikes are riding around town they are buying Chinese food made of tofu, which of course implies that the riders are Communist Hippies, but really… if Charles were to take a poll of Capital Bikeshare users and the contents of their Chinese Food Carryout bags he would learn that General Taos Chicken is the hometown favorite… not tofu! (even if Sesame Tofu tastes just as good as Sesame Chicken!)

The crack against the men on the bike calling them “metrosexual” is just an old man not understanding the fashion of the times. I am not saying I get the fashion of the youth of today, but at least I understand that I had my time to be young and now it is their turn. And I also know that the word Metrosexual fell out of vogue along with that cable television show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

In short I think that this author’s feeling is that he does not want any tax money going towards something that he does not use directly. I will admit that I am not entirely sure if I fully understand the inner workings of Capital Bikeshare, but I think that this author’s issue is that this system is funded in part by tax payers, more specifically him… a tax payer. Charles Hurt seems to think that taxes should not go towards anything that he does not plan on using. Thinking that if he does not use it, then he does not benefit from it. Well, this approach could be swapped so easily to so many parts of our society... education, medical research, or heath care... It was amazing that Mr. Hurt did not take a swing at health care. With this sort of logic our already suffering public schools system would suffer more if money from tax payers without school age children did not go towards public education.   But to keep on track I will keep the topic on transportation and the public-private relationship. In the Washington, DC area there is the Metro system which consists of buses and a subway system that are both heavily funded by the government. And well, I do not use DC Metro buses and I do not use the DC Metro Subway system.  Do I get a refund? Do I get money back because these modes of transportation are not part of my everyday? No.

Now I am not going to bitch about the bully behavior of the DC Metro Buses nor will I rant about how various subway projects force reroutes and an excess of traffic where there was already too much traffic before. No, I understand that the buses and the subway trains are vital , not for me, but for other people. And since I am not so self centered to not see the merit in things that I do not use, like lets say handicap ramps or
  parking spaces reserved for any of those car sharing companies be it Car2GO OR ZIP CAR. Since I own a car… Why should I lose these parking spaces?  This car sharing thing? Why do I have to suffer? But really, if someone uses a car share system rather than owning a car, well… that is one less parked car. Just like if someone opts to ride a bicycle share bike rather than driving… that is one less car on the road and one less car to fight for the parking space. So, even if Charles Hurt does not benefit from the convenience of having a bicycle available from a station right in front of his house, nor does he enjoy the pleasure of riding a bicycle across town rather than driving or taking a cab, he still does benefit.

Community Centers, Public Pools, Neighborhood Parks… if Charles Hurt does not use them… should we remove them? What are Charles Hurt’s interest? Where does he think his tax money should go? 

Handicap Ramps? Handicap Parking?
what else is out there that benefits a few instead of the whole? 

The article continues and brings up a few of the actual issues with the system. Bikeshare stations with no bikes to borrow and Bikeshare stations with no vacant slots to drop bikes. There is a question about the effort to fix these failures by growing the program. When really... until the program grew to its currently level... it did not have its potential of effectiveness. Before there was Capital Bikeshare there was a pilot program called SMARTBIKE... these system was too small... there were not enough bikes and not enough stations... it was a good test run... but it showed that the only way to make this work would be to flood the city with bikes and bike stations. And well... it works.

I do not need to see the metrics from Capital Bikeshare to know if the system is working. All I need to do is walk out into the city and open my eyes. BIKESHARE BIKES ARE EVERYWHERE! And yes... the riders are smiling! There may be more BIKESHARE BIKES on the road than private and personally owned bikes. It is amazing to see these clunky red bikes traversing the city.

Are these bikes heavy? Are they a tad awkward? Are these bikes less attractive than other bikes? Is it a women's frame rather than a man's?
yes... yes... and yes to all the above
but that is not really an issue
do I squabble over the make and model of the taxi cab that comes and takes me to the airport?
I want the vehicle to be clean, safe, and driven in a certain manner.... but I do not care if it is a Crown Vic or a Caprice Classic... heck... it can be a mini-van... I just need to get from point A to point B.

Bikeshare Works!
Washington DC has had great success with its Bikeshare program and this program is continuing to grow. I bet that the users of Capital Bikeshare can not recall what their life was like before bikeshare! Because this system is so integral to their every day. Cities all over the country and all over the world are adding bike share systems to their transportation initiatives. Some are private and others are publicly funded... but that is not the point. The point is that bike share is good for city. It makes sense. Bike share is part of our today and part of our future.

Maybe Charles Hurt should give Capital Bikeshare a try... I bet that if he used that bike share station that sits across from his house for a few weeks... it would give him an opportunity to write another article, only this one would be quite different.

And for the thief on the bike share bike... I am not sure if that is a reflection on the bike share system but some random moment in time. My guess is that it was not in fact a theft... but an irate cyclist tired of another pedestrian unaware of their surroundings... not stealing the phone, but removing the phone from the pedestrians hands in an effort to bring them back to the present where they could focus on the dangers around them instead of their phone conversation. I know I have been tempted to slap the phone out of more than one pedestrian's hands before.

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