It’s not about technology, it’s about morality.
When two-thirds of your bike-share bicycles get stolen, it’s not because of a glitch in the GPS, it’s because of a failing in the culture.
It’s about a predatory attitude that sees and seizes opportunities for evil.
Over the last couple of months, as I run most middays through the neighborhoods of the city of Rochester, I’ve noticed Pace bicycles being ridden where I’d never seen them before, and seemingly abandoned in lots, alleys or against random walls.
Bike share is a three-year fantasy in Rochester. A dream of the progressive urbanists who see evil in internal combustion and liberation in concentrated, pedaling populations. So the city pushes for empty skyscrapers to be turned into apartment buildings and it fills in freeway beds to build subsidized housing towers. It’s social engineering for the new day. Good bye to suburbia and the family car and front yards, and hello to bicycle lanes and walkable villages and loft apartments.
And bike share.
The Zagster dream of walk up and tap an app and pedal off into the progressive sunset.
And two years ago it came to town. Racks of heavy-duty bikes all lined up in hip downtown settings.
In unscientific polling – ie. How many have I seen while jogging each day? – the first year had two and the second year had seven.
And then this summer came.
And instead of some hipster adventurers getting a bit of exercise on their lunch hour in the concrete canyons, it was in the Crescent, mostly in the northeast, decidedly un-hipster folks careening through the streets and sidewalks. Dozens. Scores. Maybe hundreds. It was as if the city’s new program – splintered from Zagster and rebranded Pace – had really taken off.
The bikes were everywhere.
The program was a huge success. A liberal dream finally come true.
Except it wasn’t bike share, it was bike steal.
And it wasn’t the East Avenue liberals reshaping society in the urbanist and globalist image, it was good-old-fashioned crooks and creeps ruining and reigning.
And, yes, that’s why we can’t have anything nice.
- In approximately a month – July – the city, the bike company, and the police department completely lost control of the Pace situation and something like two-thirds of the inventory was in the wind. Stolen wholesale from stands all across the city.
Yesterday, there were believed to be 241 bikes which were unaccounted for because of theft, and 126 locked in various stanchions. But that last number is a maybe. There may not even be that many accounted for.
For two years the program was focused on downtown and the Hoity-Toity District around East and Park avenues. Then sponsors were tapped to subsidize new bike-share emplacements in the neighborhoods.
Who could have imagined this outcome?
Actually, everybody who was honest.
While spreading communal bicycles to impoverished neighborhoods is wildly popular at Hillary-is-my-president teas, it’s not practically smart. It exposes an awful lot of very valuable property to vandalism if you’re lucky, and 250 stolen bikes if you’re not.
And we’re not lucky.
And it’ll be interesting to see how many of the remaining 126 bikes are still in the inventory after the weekend.
The city and Pace are earnestly explaining about technology, and how this is going to be fixed.
Which is progressive Newspeak for, “Let’s ignore the fact that the problem isn’t the bikes, it’s the people.”
And let’s ignore the fact that this happens in almost every city where you have urban bike share.
The theft rate in Washington, DC, is about 50 percent. In New York City and Baltimore, the theft rate ranges between two-thirds and three-quarters of the bicycles on the streets. Some bike-share efforts have literally lost almost all of their inventory, and seen the racks vandalized and stolen for scrap.
Which proves that progressives are daft.
But it’s not a crime to be daft.
Thievery, that’s the crime. And that’s the problem.
Dreamers are going to dream, and maybe sometimes some of their dreams come true.
But when communities wait not to see and encourage success, but to find and exploit weakness, when everything is about predatory depredation, it’s going to turn out this way.
The way it turned out in Rochester.
The way it turns out everywhere.
If Rochester had checked programs elsewhere in the country, it would have detected and avoided this problem. But it jumped in without looking. And it came to failure.
Because our social failing isn’t technical, it’s moral.
It’s because there is a significant subset of our society which embraces criminality and theft.
And we will not make any progress until we are honest enough to recognize that, and demand better. We must recognize evil, and offer good. We must reject cultures of criminality, and call people – all people – to better lives.
To law-abiding lives. To lives built around recognizing the difference between good and evil, and choosing good.
That's the kind of progress America truly needs.