Five Reasons The New Miami Beach Bike Share Kind of Sucks

DecoBike_square.jpg
Michael Miller
No parking. No bikes. No good.
Just about everyone with a cerebral cortex agrees the planet is getting warmer, and we driver assholes are the ones to blame. So it's hard to hate on efforts that encourages us to ditch our gas-guzzlers and put some effort into getting around town.

But we'll make an exception for Miami Beach's new bike share program. The new 1,000-bike project emulates initiatives in Paris, Barcelona, DC, and Minneapolis. Mayor Matti Bower will unveil the project on Tuesday. Despite a four-month delay, her office is calling it "the most comprehensive citywide program of its kind in United States."

Beyond the hype, however, Miami Beach's bike share is bogus. Here are five reasons why the initiative is a letdown.

5. It's Too Expensive:
Back in August of 2009, Bower signed an agreement with DecoBike to install more than 100 solar-powered bike kiosks. Each kiosk would be lined with rental bikes that could be returned anywhere on the island. In the agreement, DecoBike suggested it would cost $1.95 - $3.50 to rent a bike for half an hour, between $3.95 and $6.95 for an hour, and monthly memberships would cost $9 - $16.

In reality, however, the fares are steeper: $4 for 30 minutes, $5 for an hour, or $10 for two hours with each additional 30 minutes costing another $4. In other words, if you choose to rent it for half an hour and return it one minute late, you're out $8. In DC, the price is $5 for an entire day.

4. It's Really For Tourists:
The membership subscription is so steep that it makes little sense for Miami Beach residents to sign up. The bare minimum membership (if you only use a bike 30 minutes at a time) costs $15 a month for a total of $180 a year. There is also a refundable $100 deposit, but it's unclear if that's on top of the $180. For that kind of money, you're better off buying your own bike.

Compare Miami Beach's $180 yearly membership with a similar program in the nation's capital. Capital Bikeshare charges Washington DC residents only $75 a year (30 minutes at a time, like DecoBike) and just $1.50 extra for an extra half hour.

3. Parking is Already a Bitch. Now It'll Be Worse:
Yes, yes. We know. Cars are bad; bicycles are good. Why not trade parking spaces for bike racks? Well, we'd be all for it if these were public bike racks (of which there are very few on Miami Beach). But they're not. They benefit a private company (see #1) and they are essentially for tourists (see #4).

DecoBikeSign.jpg
Michael E. Miller
No helmet, no insurance either.
Residential parking is already a bitch in South Beach. And as anyone who lives there knows, it's become a lot tougher since the city started tearing up 40-foot stretches of nearly every block to install the DecoBike racks. Some kiosks occupy three or four parking spots, and there are already 50 of them, with 65 more planned for Middle and North Beach. In some cases, you can throw a football from one kiosk to another. To add insult to injury, the kiosks have been empty for months weeks, glaring at would-be parkers like giant solar-powered middle fingers.

In the agreement, the city estimates that it is "donating" 50 parking spaces to DecoBike. But with 115 planned kiosks, the real number is likely much higher. In other words, the city is getting rid of several hundred residential parking spaces in order to make more cash off of tourists. Thanks Miami Beach!

2. Vandalism:
Remember the pink snails? Those lil' guys were abused right quick when they came to Miami Beach. And if bike shares in other cities like Paris, Edmonton (Alberta, Canada), and Cambridge (UK) are any example, these bikes will be broken, stolen, or burned in no time as well.

1. Mediocre Deal for Miami Beach:
Let's be honest. Although public health is certainly an incentive, Miami Beach signed the deal with DecoBike in order to make some money. The problem is, it's far from clear that the city is getting a good deal. According to a Miami Beach committee memorandum, DecoBike projects the city will make between $1.9 - 3.4 million over five years from the project. Not bad. But the city's share doesn't account for the lost parking revenue. Nor does it consider the pain of being woken up at 7 a.m. all winter long while DecoBike installed the kiosks.

DecoBike, on the other hand, will make anywhere from $836,000 to a whopping $9.6 million over that same time period, depending on the program's success.

DecoBike Marketing VP Colbert Reese, disagrees with our assessment, of course. He points out that the DC bike share is funded by tax payer dollars, whereas DecoBike is a private venture (with public benefits like free spaces around town). Reese claims (rather implausibly) that no one has complained to him about the price and argues (more convincingly) that $180 isn't too much to spend on a bike that you don't have to fix, store, or worry about getting stolen. He says DecoBikes are sturdier and better designed than the vandalized bikes in other cities. And it's not just for tourists.

"Most of our marketing is geared towards residents," Reese says. "It's really a commuter solution."

He concedes that some people have complained about the parking snafu, but is pretty snobby with his response. "The goal is to cut back on car usage," Reese says. "If people actually do the research on what bike sharing is before complaining, they wouldn't complain."

"DecoBike is not to blame for (the parking problem)" he adds. "At the end of the day when the bike stations are open, public opinion will be positive."

Bike shares are a great idea, and some work well. But it's uncertain whether the DecoBike program will benefit the city government all that much, let alone local residents who have nowhere to park and can't afford to rent a bike.

As Reese says, only time will tell how Miami Beach receives the bike share program. But we're afraid it will be with beach cruisers set ablaze on the beach.

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77 comments
brandonbe
brandonbe

Terrible article... As usual negative negative and oh ya full of lies. The best part of the article is the no parking in SoBe, don't live in SoBe if you want ample parking. Go live in a high rise and shut up!

New Times should to stick to what it does best, be a paper just for trashy ads and stop trying to report news!

gustavo
gustavo

el martes 27 alas 630 am on collins ave y la 7 st asta collins y la 31 st de marco por primera ves rente una decobike en south beach para ir al trabajo  pero el miercoles recebi una noticia mala del banco diciendo que ello tenia cargado los $675 por la decobike porque no la pueden encontrala en la estacion portanto ello tenian que cobrarme la bike me senti como si fuera un ladron pus jamas ay nececitado de robar menos una ogly bike como las de ellos potanto los llevare ala corte creo que antes de cobrarte algo deverian investigar primeo para ver adonde esta la bike portanto tengan cuidado cunado usen sus credicard ellos te sacan el dinero sin tu autorisacion

Miami Beach Luxury Condos
Miami Beach Luxury Condos

Well I think we all know the New Times isn't the source of good reporting/reporters!! Come on don't take them too seriously, they are all full of shit haters! Ask anyone! 

James Duglos
James Duglos

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zeevblaze
zeevblaze

 Really nice article,and I read it very interesting. 

Mary
Mary

I am a permanent Miami Beach resident in Mid-Beach on Collins and I do see that the bikes here are being used.  I think that the fees are far too high.

RC
RC

Love the program so far. And here's another great benefit of the program... road conditions for bikes will have to get better with all those decobikes being ridden. I see more colored bike paths and bike friendly amenities in the near future, especially since tourists love it. Hooray!

busterman
busterman

If the bikes are broken/vandalized, the renter pays for the damage. Bike rental secured by a credit/debit card has no relation to the pink snails because no one was required to swipe their credit card for the privilege of viewing/harming the pink snails.

How is this a valid concern Mr. Miller?

Gayle
Gayle

Oh great, now I have to run out of the way of an extra 1000 bikes whizzing down the pedestrian walkway of Lincoln Rd.

zqxz
zqxz

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HERALDRDR
HERALDRDR

I see the point that the bike stations will take up more parking leaving less for the residents however, I think the bikes are a good idea. Sure, it's expensive to rent for a day at a time but for $15 a month that's not bad if you live on the beach and don't have a car or don't want to lose your parking. Also, I think it's great for tourists. As much as we residents hate on tourists they are a big part of the local economy and so anything that caters to tourists and brings in more money to the city is good.

Guest
Guest

This is a concept that is clearly targeted towards tourists.

I'm willing to bet that the people who run this program do not even ride their own bicycles in the manner with which they promote.

Hell, I'm willing to bet that some of the people who run this program do not even know how to ride a bike. And here they are trying to sell the concept of riding bikes as a viable environmental alternative? Psshhh.

Bike Questioner
Bike Questioner

I still don't see why they need to take parking spots away. Put them in parks sidewalks etc. I'm sorry if I like to experience all areas of miami not just the beach so I am not convinced by this program to get rid of my car as I can't ride my bike to the grove for example. Why must you take our parking spots away when there are plenty of other areas to install the racks!

IHATETHESEDUMBASSBIKERACKS
IHATETHESEDUMBASSBIKERACKS

Did this article mention the $250 hold on your credit cred EVERYTIME you rent? The city is once again acting as if they are doing the residents a favor when in fact they are hoping to make a profit off of this scam. These racks are taking up too much valuable parking sopts that tax paying residents need. The rack on 12th and West is withing eye sight of a rack on Alton and 12th. Again.Idiots.There is not one tourist in Des Moines who is at home in January saying to himself 'I would vacation in Miami Beach if they had a bike share program". We have 80 degree weather in December. This is what tourists want.This is not Paris or Vienna which are major cities with millions of residents. In a few yrs after bikes are being stolen, vandalized, etc..this will end as a huge failure. Idiots. Residents who want a bike own one, they do not need to rent one. Miami Beach is too small for a viable bike share program.

Njbdavis
Njbdavis

This is part of Agenda 21- removing cars and making us ride bikes or trains. Government controlled transportation and everything else.

Peter Tapia
Peter Tapia

as a concierge here in south beach and a resident of the island i think this is the biggest scam worse than 20$ dollar drinks at bars.

JuniorL
JuniorL

Well I think we all know the New Times isn't the source of good reporting/reporters!! Come on don't take them too seriously, they are all full of shit haters! Ask anyone!

b.a.c.
b.a.c.

After reading all the comments for this post it's pretty evident the author of the post does not know a damn thing about bike sharing programs. And his assumptions about the currently inactive program is a pretty clear testament to his/her absolute inability to use the internet to research. Perhaps the New Times should ask bloggers whether they know what Google/Bing/Yahoo is before they hire them. Compare and contrast dude, I think they taught us that in 3rd grade.

Margarita
Margarita

Good article, but where did you learn your grammar? "So it's hard to hate on efforts that encourages us..."? Did you mean efforts that encourage us?

Sofla
Sofla

NEW FLASH TO THE WRITER OF THE ARTICLE: SmartBike DC that you said is sooo great has been closed since September of 2010...Dumbass!

Jason Bultman
Jason Bultman

I think it's a great idea, and I wish it were in place when I was there last month with my kids. I would pay that price by the hour, that's about what I would expect to pay in miami beach. It is very convenient to not have to transport a bike to the beach. Good luck Deco Bike!

poolfish
poolfish

As for vandalism, you should say that it has not been an issue in London, Washington, Montreal, Minneapolis and Denver. In Edmonton, this was a different kind of bike sharing system that was much more prone to vandalism and theft.

BurnBabyBurn!!
BurnBabyBurn!!

Come on everyone, haven't you seen the world is going to end in 2012!! The Japan earthquake, global tsunamis, it's coming! Have fun whether you wanna ride a bike or be a fat ass in your car!!

beachBiker
beachBiker

The person writing this article is obviously "The Author That Knew Too Little.." and likely is the owner of a gas guzzling SUV. It's 2011 dude-- use the internet, wiki, something -- so that you check your facts on the benefits of bike sharing programs. When I was in Barcelona, there were bike sharing bikes everywhere and only residents can use them, so I don't see it as a tourist thing and last I heard about 30% of the residents have membership to ride there and that it has encouraged an entirely new wave of bike riders since it's really easy to grab a bike. In any event, I am looking forward to their opening here in Miami Beach. I'm tired of having the seat and parts stolen off my $1,950 bike (which amount to much more than the cost of a Deco membership)! I will happy use a Decobike for just commuting around the city--- because it just makes sense to save time, parking expenses, etc.

Virgina Mayo
Virgina Mayo

great article, i use the Paris and Stockholm bike programs all the time and i have tried to contact Deco bike to warn them that the way the system here is going to be run will certainly fail. In Paris for instance it's 29 euros(about 50 bucks) for 1 YEAR. So yeah this system is totally useless for Miami beach residents. the idea is to be able to use the bikes for 30 mins or less to get from point a to point b only. There's no incentive here.

b.a.c.
b.a.c.

WOW thats mega expensive. When I was in Vienna renting a bike was free the first hour and 1 euro each hour until the third hour where you paid 3euros.As to points 1 and 2 let's have a smart discussion about this.Vandalism: Gonna happen to your car or your privately owned bike. The difference here is Deco bikes is responsible for fixing vandalism. So your point is moot. WOuld you rather have your personal bike stolen or vandalizes or one you rent which will eventually be repaired? Exactly.Bad for the beach: It seems to me, like every other bike share in the world, that this is a service for beach residents. I doubt it's meant to make a profit for the beach. Kind of like highways and other public services: do you expect them to return profits (metro, people mover, bus system). I was in Paris for christmas and every morning these bikes were GONE by 8am. Who was using them? Parisians. In Vienna the same thing. I had to wake up at 7am to get my girl and I a bike before the locals did. To the person writing the article, did you take the time to contact other city residents who have this implemented before knocking a system that hasnt even started yet?

Snotty Joe
Snotty Joe

that edmonton link got lost - says how good their program is doing?

James G. Camp
James G. Camp

Those extolling the virtues of $ 15/month unlimited usage, please read # 5. Realize that Walmart sells a cruiser style bike for between $ 70-150. Last I checked, that's less than $ 180. I'd bet on a Walmart bike lasting a year ? What the program doesn't provide, helmets, & locks. So that doesn't change for the TCO. Ever look on Craigs List, Those Walmart bikes become 1/2 price as someone is constantly selling any style of bike for a clearance price. BTW, read the agreements, as a decobike user/patron, you are just as responsible for the bike if it's stolen while you're renting it. So you might as well own it if it ever gets stolen. The LBS really doesn't charge that much to maintain & repair a bike. They usually last forever and can be easily maintained with a very basic set of tools.

Everything brought up in the article has a very valid point. At the end of the day it's always been more cost effective to own rather than rent.

http://decobike.com/agreement....

see sections 2.15 and beyond.

decobike
decobike

Actually, over 50% of our employees/owners live in Miami Beach, do not drive cars and have been using their DECOBIKE's to get around town for over 8 months now. Thanks for asking :)

Jaelanne
Jaelanne

Put them in sidewalks so handicapped people can use the streets? Not very pedestrian friendly at all, and that goes against ADA. CMB doesn't want that lawsuit. There are still plenty of parking spots for everyone but the locals. But most of us don't have cars, anyways.

BTW, I ride my bike as far as Aventura, and South Miami, and when I need to go further or carry a lot, I rent a car. My transportation bills for last year: under $500, with car rental, gas, bike expenses, and bus/taxi fare. Amount saved: $4500+. I'm going to Europe and Asia this summer with that money!

Fact Checker vs Fiction
Fact Checker vs Fiction

The City of Miami Beach created over 1000+ parking spaces in anticipation of this program. The program has been allocated roughly 50+ spaces. Not all sidewalks are walk enough to accommodate the stations nor are there parks conveniently located everywhere. The idea is to give up your care for those short trips to the store, Lincoln Rd, etc. It's the shortest trips in your car (under one mile) that actually cause the greatest amounts of pollution!

In an ideal world, you would be able to bike from the City of Miami Beach into the City of Miami. However, different cities, different governments, different rules. And frankly, who is going to ride their bike across the MacArthur Causeway?? The point of the program is that the City of Miami Beach is looking to make the Miami Beach a greener place with alternative modes of transportation.

Richard Rabinowitz
Richard Rabinowitz

Um, a private company isn't government. And, besides, there is plenty of government control involved in driving, ranging from parking fees to traffic lights to cops catching speeders to people getting tickets for accidents, to gas taxes to one-way streets and regulations about cars requiring seat belts and fuel-efficiency regulations. Furthermore, aren't bicycles private transportation as well as cars? Your argument makes little sense.

DC Rider
DC Rider

NEW FLASH TO BurnBabyBurn THE WRITER OF THE ARTICLE is referring to Capital Bike Share which has been fully operational with over 100 docking stations and 5,000 users since September of 2010 NOT SmartBike DC which was an inferior system and was replaced by Capital BikeShare...Who is the Dumbass?

13&Penn
13&Penn

The "incentive" is to use your car less locally and emit less pollution in the air. I guess you don't care enough about our city or planet for that to be an incentive...

Drock
Drock

I like the $15.00 a month as I travel quite a bit and wont use the system every month. So over the year it will be less expensive for me.

Richard Rabinowitz
Richard Rabinowitz

The problem with owning only really crops up when one travels - and that's mainly because some cars can't fit bikes onto them, and some bus and rail systems don't allow them on board or restrict them on board. (I don't know the situation with airplanes or anything in Florida, as I am a New Jerseyan.)

FactChecker vs Fiction
FactChecker vs Fiction

There are some valid points but sadly they are mixed in with such pure fiction which pretty much invalidates any of them for me. But then, I lease my cars and could care less about ownership...

I have lived on the beach since 1994 and have had 3 bikes stolen. These were not Walmart specials but bikes that cost me anywhere from $2k to $3k. At this point, I am happy to spend just $15/month, go station to station and never have to worry about being responsible for a bike again. I can cruise around the beach, meet friends for lunch on Lincoln or just lay out on the beach for a spell. For me, it's the perfect solution. Perhaps for you, owning a bike is a better one.

Guest
Guest

Having less than 10 people account for your total employees/owners makes your "50%" a very unimpressive number.

Gayle
Gayle

The city did NOT create 1000+ parking spaces in anticipation of this program. There is not ONE extra resident parking space.

The city needs to build more resident parking lots like the one on Michigan Ave near 15th Street.

Jaelanne
Jaelanne

None of the locals ride that route other than the racers who need a hill to train on. Venetian is the preferred route, which if you are a motorist you probably don't take because it is tolled. Free for bikes, lovely, and with a bike lane the entire way. On any given day I pass a dozen cyclists during my commute.

FactChecker vs Fiction
FactChecker vs Fiction

Originally the article did state SmartBike DC. It was updated to correct the information but unfortunately the paper did not see fit to advertise that.

WayToLookLikeAnA
WayToLookLikeAnA

@decobike: Wow! Did any of those 12 FT and multitude of PT employees study PR? Given your completely defensive responses here, I'm going to guess the answer is no. Good thing there are a quite few great PR companies on the beach since so many of you are using the bike share making it difficult to get to the mainland. It might benefit you to look into getting some media training for yourself & your employees.

decobike
decobike

DecoBike has about 12 FT employees and a multitude of PT employees that help keep everything humming behind the scenes. We are proud of our contribution to the greening of Miami Beach. Given your position of anonymity, I am wondering if you do anything to contribute towards making Miami Beach a better place? Or do you just like to operate with finger-pointing and innuendo?

checkyourfactsdude
checkyourfactsdude

In fact it's public record that the city DID create almost 1200 new parking spaces in the last 2 years in anticipation of this program.

James G. Camp
James G. Camp

Or one that is on sale around Christmas for about $70 @ Walmart ? There are 1,000 decobikes slated to be available, if 1,000 people in South Beach are members are you even certain a bike will be available when you want one ? Let's say the rack is full, how are you going to return one ? The meter will still be running on your rental until you find a place to return it. The walmart bike, if you're going to abandon it, just take the lock off it and leave it with a note "free bike", I'm certain someone will be more than happy to take it for free. Now that's a bike share program ?

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