Archives for posts with tag: cars

Come play with us and be our love.

Fun fact: Madison is moving up in the world.  As of late May, we became one of a couple other cities to be part of a B-Cycle bike share program.  We are like Paris! That is all you need to know now about Madison:  we have bikes now and we are Paris.

Okay, so how it works is there are six active bike sharing stations in Madison (like the one pictured above).  The plan is to have upwards of thirty stations in the near future. People who want to use the bikes must first pay for one of three types of memberships: 24-hour ($10), 7-day ($30), annual ($65) or student annual ($45–email must end with .edu to receive this rate).  Once you select a membership you can use your credit card to access one of the bikes.  The first half-hour of usage is free, the second half- hour is $2 and each half-hour after that is $4.

The purpose of the fee, according to the B-Cycle people, is to discourage extended rides.  Once there are more stations it will also be easier to avoid fees because one can simply dock the bike at a nearby station, run whatever errands need to get done, and undock the bike–starting a new free half-hour to get home.

The bikes themselves are beautiful Trek  road bikes equipped with baskets and locks.  They also have a GPS so you can later log on to the B-Cycle website to see how far you traveled and how many calories you burned. I think this program has the potential to offer even more Madisonians an opportunity to try biking around town, which is a great thing, especially if it takes some cars off the road.

So I’m very enthusiastic about B-Cycle, but as the program develops I hope the B-Cycle people will consider the following suggestions for improvement:

  1. An Insurance Policy:  If you read through the terms and conditions to use B-Cycle, the bike rider must pay for any damages or theft that occurs while the rider’s checked out the bike.  The replacement fees on the  bikes is $1,000.  It would be nice if annual members could somehow pay more if they wanted to insure themselves against some of this damage.  After all, I’ve had seats stolen and frames bent on my bikes through no fault of my own.  Accidents happen; tires blow out.  Madison is a safe town, but it’s not that safe.
  2. Where’s the near-west-side love?  The map of future stations is promising, but where’s the station at Hilldale? For those of us who live downtown Hilldale is our nearest movie theater and mall.  It would be nice to bike out there for dinner and a movie some summer evening without being charged $18 in B-Cycle fees per person.   While we’re at it, how about stations in Shorewood and on University Avenue or anywhere near West Regent Street?
  3. Make the first hour free.  Right now, it’s hard to avoid charges on B-Cycle.  With so few stations opened one cannot currently dock a bike and run an errand.  And even with all the docking stations open, it may not be possible to get very far within a half-hour on a three-speed bike.  I fear the current pricing model might scare some people away from using B-Cycle.  Here’s an alternative model: First hour free, the second hour $4 and then each half-hour after that would be an additional $4.  This would give everyone time to  run errands at their own pace and would still discourage people from using the bikes for more than a couple of hours.

There are many good reasons to join a local cooperative food market: they support local food producers and growers, they generally have a wide selection of organic and vegetarian products, there is a strong emphasis on customer service (because  customers are the owners!) and good co-ops generally foster community development, environmental stewardship and nutrition.

In Madison an additional perk of being a member of the Willy Street Co-op (or living with one, as is my case)  is reading the  customer comments section in the monthly co-op newsletter.  No small failure on the co-op’s part (or on the part of humanity as a whole) will be ignored! Below, I bring you the gems of October (to read the diplomatic responses from the co-op staff, you will just have  to become a co-op member so you can get this newsletter, or read it here:

1. Climate Change Deniers

I would like to request that climate change deniers, i.e., motorists, be asked to turn off their engines when standing in the parking lot waiting for a spot. Today I had to breathe the toxic waste of three motorists idling in the parking lot while I parked my bike.

2. Labyrinth of Dangerous Sharp Corners

The planters out front have sharp corners, which are really dangerous. Any toddler or young child could run their face right into those. They are a really unfriendly addition.  Can you get someone to round the corners? Anyone could also bump into them with their leg. I would prefer they be removed. They are very bad feng shui. Doesn’t WSC have legal counsel–no good lawyer could possibly advise anything but removal of the planters and the bongo drop box [Ed–this is a reference to a local video store drop box]. You guys have made two very bad decisions in these planters and drop box. Please remove and make the co-op safe and welcoming not a labyrinth of dangerous sharp corners!!

3. Heat and Glare

The outside western wall is painted a very light shade (white-off-white-lt. grey) and in sunlight radiates heat and glare to people walking to the co-op from the neighborhood. Have you considered repainting that wall a cooler grey? It would cut the heat and glare to those who use the sidewalk.

4. Weed seed poisoning

I appreciate your efforts with plants but I get weed seed poisoning from walking in tall grasses and think that another type of plant would be more appropriate by the walk in front.

This commenter just has grass pollen allergies, right?

It’s a beautiful world.