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Gear Prudence: I’m not sure if this is a widespread problem or if it’s just me, but it’s about those dockless bikes. They’ve been around for a few months, and even though I’m a huge bike person, love Capital Bikeshare, and am a Washington Area Bicyclist Association member and everything, I just don’t have positive feelings about them. I don’t hate them, but I can’t really say that I like them either. If they went away tomorrow, I’m not really sure that I would care very much. I used them once or twice when they first came here, but my reaction was mainly, “So what?” I’m normally all about everything having to do with more biking, but dockless bikes leave me cold. Am I wrong to feel this way? Am I not getting something about why they’re actually good? —Me: Epic Hypocrite?
Dear MEH: GP isn’t going to police your feelings. You get to decide what you like and what you don’t, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to gush over every single aspect of anything having to do with bicycles just because you are a “huge bike person.” For as relatively small as the subculture of bicycling is, it’s pretty variegated, and you’d be hard-pressed to find universal agreement among those who bicycle on any issue beyond “bicycle=good,” and even then the trike and unicycle people would say “Actually, …” and you’d have a regular donnybrook trying to sort things out.
Dockless bike sharing is new here, and novelties aren’t always immediately embraced. If you’ve got your own bike or you’re happy with Capital Bikeshare, it’s no wonder that you’re not wowed by dockless. It doesn’t really solve any problems for you. But then, it might not be for you, and that’s OK too. Not every product or innovation is for every person, and to suppose that each new bicycling advent should be specifically targeted for your approval is pretty blinkered (and really egocentric!)
The case for dockless bike share for the non-DoBi lover is this: If it’s not reaching you, then it’s reaching someone else. And since you’re already biking anyway and someone else might not have been until dockless bike share came along, you didn’t really need to be reached anyway.
The advantage of someone else biking is the “safety in numbers” effect, whereby cycling becomes safer for all users as more people do it. That’s a selfish reason to support it, but there’s a selfless one too: Dockless bike share expands the joy and functionality of bicycle travel. This is certainly something you can get behind, even if you don’t use these particular bikes. —GP
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