November 30, 2011 | 8:59am
Believe it or not, bike sharing is coming to car-choked Broward County... and the first of dozens of automated rental stations are appearing in high-traffic areas around Fort Lauderdale. The first one went up on Sebastian Street on Fort Lauderdale beach, and we spotted the one pictured above -- at SE Fifth Street, just south of Las Olas Boulevard -- earlier this week.
A few months back, when we first reported the plan to bring B-Cycle's proprietary bike-sharing system to Fort Lauderdale, we responded with skepticism. After all, this place hands-down beats all of B-Cycle's other cities when it comes to fatal bike accidents. In other words, this is not a safe place for cycling
. One look at the roads should tell you that.
This Pulp reporter has been lucky enough to experiment with the original automatic bike-share: the Vélib' system in Paris. It works roughly the same as this one: put in a credit-card deposit on a bike, then get charged incrementally for the time you use it, then return it to any station in the system. The Parisian bikes are often broken or missing, but the company that runs the system puts an incredible amount of money and manpower into repairing, transporting, and monitoring the bikes. Plus, they have bike lanes and paths over there where one can ride a strange bike without feeling very threatened.
But we're optimistic about B-Cycle's ability to bring this Communist-fitness plot to fruition in Broward. Should be a boon for tourists on the beach, and if people can actually make it onto the back streets to use the bikes for commuting (there will be bike stands at Tri-Rail stations), that could be the beginning of something good. We hope it won't take any cracked skulls to make county commissioners and city leaders realize that we're going to need some better signage and infrastructure for these bikes and their riders.
Stefan Kamph is a New Times staff writer.
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