By Micheline Maynard
When it comes to the way we get around, we’ve gone from owning to renting to summoning. And the way we think about transportation will never be the same.
Let me explain what I mean. For the past century, until about 2007, there was a pretty simple way that we used automobiles. We went out and bought them, or some of us leased them. If you wanted a car at your beck and call, you plunked down your money, and parked one on the street or in a garage.
There were rental car companies, but the fee structure was such that it eventually was cheaper just to buy a car than to rent one. You could pay in a week for a rental what a car cost to own for a month.
The door cracked open in 2007, when ZipCar came along. Now, you didn’t have to rent for a week, or a weekend, or even a day. You could use a ZipCar for a few hours, then take it back.
Now, you don’t even have to take some car sharing cars back. Nor do you have to go anywhere to find transportation. You simply summon it, use it as long as you like, and go wherever you like.
The app that is leading the way in this change is Uber, and it promises to transform the way we get around in the way that the automobile did a century ago. There’s a fascinating look at how this is happening by Kevin Roose in New York Magazine. Continue reading
As bike sharing gets more popular, public health officials are concerned people are on bikes without helmets.
By Micheline Maynard
When I bought my bike this summer, everyone I told about the purchase was adamant: you have to get a helmet. They were so insistent that I stayed off it until I had gone to REI and brought home a helmet ($32, on sale).
Many public health officials are concerned that as bike sharing spreads across the country, head injuries also will go up, as I wrote this week for Al Jazeera America. There are some pretty compelling statistics to that effect.
Greg Kagay, one of the backers of Curbing Cars, is a dedicated cyclist who’s been wearing a helmet since he had a bike accident in high school. He is eager to try out bike sharing, but he’ll only do so when wearing a helmet.
However, there are also some people who think the concern about cyclists wearing helmets is way over blown. One of them is Jana Kinsman, who is among the best known cyclists in Chicago, thanks to her project, Bike A Bee.
I talked with Kinsman at length for my AJAM story, and she presents a strong argument that helmets are not the point. The bigger issue, she says, is that bikes, cars and pedestrians all need to coexist.