Great Pedal Backward?

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I mentioned the bicycle epidemic and a student of mine found this article in Wired, with the photo of the bike graveyard above. Linked below.

As mentioned a few days ago, this low-cost public bike system could be a great idea, but there are indications here and there that the program is running amok.

There are excessive bikes in many places. Also, as shown above, these bikes are becoming disposable. I wonder what the “carbon footprint” is of manufacturing so many bikes whose lifespans get shorter and shorter. Here is a quote from the article:

“But no one anticipated so many lazy cyclists. Private companies started offering bikes riders didn’t have to return to one of the government’s 3,000 docking stations. People could simply drop the bikes wherever they liked. And so they did, leaving them almost anywhere. China News Service reports that in March this year, complaints from concerned citizens grew so numerous that the city began rounding them up… What happens next is anyone’s guess. Until someone figures that out, the bikes will just keep piling up.”

No kidding.

Again, this could be a great program with a little fine-tuning, and it keeps people fit besides.

But the program is beginning to remind me of the Great Leap Forward on a small scale, especially since that debacle is also associated with useless metal, as the result of people building backyard furnaces to turn iron into steel.

Meantime, one has to wonder if the road to the junkyard was paved with good intentions.

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