Public bike rental is as many other complex systems in urban areas another emerging trend in the landscape of managing change of behavior and growth in its inner city borders. The process that underlies the model behind it can be as complex as the sole understanding of the structure and organization put in place that leads to its operational implementation. If we put this only fact back in to context we have to understand the underlined elements that brought them to live. Most factors taking part to its inner specificity are socio-economic values through time. It is a well-known fact that urban areas and city center need to have a control and leverage on the level of attractiveness to its inner population magnets. In most cases these magnets are artificially maintained through infrastructural networks by keeping the work force flowing in and out. These daily flow may represent a substantial part of the local economy but do not represent the quality of the attractiveness considering that the workflow has no other choice than commute between their homes and their working place. In other words cities attract people for other reasons. Cities that have unique features are more likely to maintain a natural attraction then others. These features can be history, landscape, Water access, culture, sport, food, leisure, education, and mostly unique features that put them at the forefront of urban activity. What attracts people to city is mostly the anonymous character where individuals belong to a wider system without being identified as a specific individual. If you leva in the country side you know your neighbors and your neighbors know you. In a high rise building you might not even know who your neighbor is. The individual integrates a higher order of sense of belonging that is highly interdependent with the system. Managing flows, needs and aspiration of each of them is a complex issue where individuals have to accept the inner rigidity of its features while tapping the apparent other values that proximity and specific features may offer. Al this of course has a high price and one often see younger generation having to flee center cities for more affordable suburbs which creates in return the daily migration as we know it.
Public bike rental became an obvious trend that has been pushed to facilitate the border crossing between the inner centers to the outskirts of many cities and managing the flow to keep in balance the level of attractiveness by facilitating its access. Taxis, busses, metro have become expensive, unsafe and redundant when it comes to freedom of movement. Cities unlike internet have their secret codes and their very specific geographical and geometrical features that make them unique to such an extent that if you are not a regular user or traveler you may well feel totally estranged to approach them. On the opposite side some people can’t simply leave the city behind and feel totally lost in the countryside by not finding their common symbols and references. The amount of urban dwellers is not linked the ones that create attractiveness; they are the one that uses it to a certain extent. Cities need a continuous flow and interaction with its external world. Attractiveness comes from far beyond its border. Attractiveness consists to identify the components of the system and the interactions that drive them in movement as operating dynamics. By considering the demographics, economic values, environmental tendencies that come in to play at a given time we can easily predict its evolution and outcome by creating appropriate solutions in time. However such a predication would be easy if we would consider spatial organization is unlimited in terms of growth but we all know that cities centers have their borders and always fade away one way or the other and that limits to growth is a reality. The biggest concern of urban mega centers is not only how to manage a growing environment but mostly how to reinvent it within its own limits. Reinvention is key to survival and when it comes to move to people from A to B we have through time invented several systems; from natural systems to human invented mechanical solution and digital ones we still remain attached to our environment and our contextual values. Bike servicing emerged as a great alternative to cars and public transport but with an old school approach managed by cities or ordered by them to control individual mobility at the time where only public transport assumptions and ideology was considered as only way to manage individuals. The Paris example is a relevant one. With more than 3000 bikes sold the first year and vans having to repatriate vehicles at hot spots during peak hours. If we have seen this model among others like in New York, Montreal and many other places it is simply because city authorities prefer to be in control even though all failing to make a buck at the end of the day by providing another deal behind the scene such as advertising or any other deal; the real purpose being diverted from its main and essential requirements. Bike points and public bike rental as most are being managed these days are simply not willing to recognize personal mobility for what it is supposed to do. Bike fans will most probably agree that when it comes to personal mobility size matters and services should be at the scale of the user not the city. That is where they all got it wrong. You simply cannot provide a decent public bike rental if you do not involve the driver’s responsibility. Public bike rental needs to be managed by individuals like the bike sharing model. Bikes are indeed a personal tool for urban discovery, a practical tool for seeing more than what you can see underground and appreciate the urban landscapes and its diversity but bike servicing as it is now is definitely a business model that is outdated and not in line with what a consumer wants to have. Bike stealing represents the biggest treat and there is no way out to try to catch a bike robber in ten different places per day and every day of the year. Renting, leasing, and bike sharing are far more updated than city controlled solutions that all prove to fail. Moreover why are cities promoting old inventions from the 19th centuries that are subcontracted in Asia? Have we lost our marbles to the extent of not making use of ingenuity and added value? While all our knowhow and our technology has gone abroad and our workers on strike we pay for an electric bike 2500 to 7000 USD while it is being produced at 200 USD the unit? What kind of system can close its eyes on the blunt, the obvious and the irrelevancy of its strategies?