bike illoCPSC.govKnow what’s awesome? Bike sharing.

Know what’s not awesome? Bike sharing programs that get wrecked by theft and general disregard. As many of them seem to do.

But let’s hear it for optimism: Check out this editorial in the daily paper of the University of Iowa. It lays out plans for a bike-sharing program based on those that have gained speed in cities from Paris to Portland — but says the smaller size of Iowa City would mean less velo-vandalism:

Iowa City’s population hovers around 80,000, a good portion (say, half?) of whom are students, faculty, and staff at the university who need easy and available modes of transportation. If there were around 3,000 free bikes at hubs distributed around mostly downtown — some placed near the farther facilities and dormitories — all provided for the day’s use completely free of charge, what’s the point in stealing one? There’s another just up the street. We are perfectly sized for an operation like this, and beyond its plain convenience, there are other benefits.

One of the most prevalent topics of idle conversation (beyond smokers’ rights, binge drinking, and violence) is the parking situation downtown. It’s awful, we all know this, and with wheels turning toward complicating the already-awkward Dubuque and Washington Street intersection, the traffic patterns will suffer that much more. Bicycle hubs would significantly reduce both traffic and parking … and all the crap we pump into the air every time we circle the block yet again in case we can grab a spot right out front.

First gay marriage, now bike sharing? Oh Iowa, we hardly knew ye.