Bike-Share Boondoggle - Texas Scorecard

How much are you willing to pay for a bicycle? $200? $400? That’s nowhere close to what the City of Austin is going to spend per bike for a new “bike-sharing program” downtown. At over $1,500 per bicycle, the Austin City Council is ready to spend $1.8 million on their newest taxpayer boondoggle.

Austin’s new “bike-sharing program” is city council’s latest soon-to-be failed attempt to get people to stop driving their cars.

In order to “rent” a bike funded and operated by the city, pedestrians will go up to a kiosk, register their credit card and ride the bike around downtown, with the option of dropping the bike off at another kiosk in the area. Daily memberships are expected to be priced at $5 to $7 and annual memberships around $50 or $60.

With each bike priced at $1,500, this government encroachment into the private sector is expected to cost $1.8 million. But rest assured, in case anyone wants to steal one of these overpriced bicycles, they can be located with their built-in GPS systems.

Obviously, fiscal sanity is a foreign concept to the Austin City Council. The same council-members who are ready to sign off on this latest boondoggle also support Formula 1 subsidies and billion-dollar light-rail systems.

They don’t learn very well from other governments’ mistakes either.

Montreal, Canada, was held in high-regard during the marketing phase of this program, providing an example of a major city that has implemented a similar program. Apparently not disclosed during the presentation was the fact that Montreal’s program is running a $6.3 million deficit, forcing them to offer a rescue-loan of $37 million to the company they contracted to run it.

Perhaps the most ironic part of this program though, is that such a nanny-state city government as the Austin City Council hasn’t demanded that riders be provided helmets, let alone require their use. Remember, this is the same city government that thinks it knows better than you when it comes to patronizing restaurants and bars that allow smoking.

Sadly, this isn’t turning out to be just an “Austin thing,” either.

San Antonio has already started a bike-share program and Forth Worth is reportedly considering it as well.

Exit Question: How many additional 911 operators do you think Austin could hire with $1.8 million?

Have you seen examples of taxpayer dollars being wasted or abused? If it’s going on in your city, school or local government, chances are it’s happening elsewhere, too! Tell us your stories of waste, fraud and abuse!