The first rule of Bike Share Hype is you have to talk about Bike Share. Publicly. And often. As loudly and colorfully as possible. Doesn’t matter if you think Bike Share will herald a new dawn of true urban sustainability or you bemoan Bike Share as the death of the American driving dream. You must craft your views into public street theater as often as possible.
For audiences tasked with critiquing this artistic performance called Hype, there’s been no shortage of dramatic achievement. Bike Share is nothing new, but in America, nothing’s really real until shit gets real in the Big Apple. Over 500 cities have enjoyed immeasurable Bike Share benefits for years. Even Antarctica has its own cycle sharing system. Yet it wasn’t until New York City launched Citibike in April 2013 that media hysteria boiled over into nation-wide fever pitches.
Portland, Oregon often touts the title of North America’s cycling capital, boasting a 6% bike commuting mode share (a figure I suspect is far lower than actuality). Despite this fact, Portland’s own Bike Share plan has been delayed by numerous setbacks. The always anti-bike Oregonian pounced upon the hype recently to blast the forthcoming project as a “risky venture.” This despite concurrently penning their 50th editorial board opinion cheerleading the $4 billion dollar Columbia River Crossing freeway mega-expansion. As BikePortland publisher Jonathan Maus aptly put it, “What scares The Oregonian? They’re not afraid bike share will fail, they’re afraid it will succeed.”