A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Monday, June 9, 2008


First: it's official: the nationwide average price of a gallon of unleaded gas is over $4 a gallon, via the AP wire. Here in Maine, gas prices have been above $4 a gallon for several days now. Who could possibly have predicted such a thing?

Second: meanwhile, the price of a barrel of oil is headed towards $150... seven times its nominal price six years ago. That's an annualized inflation rate of 115%.

Third: In Portland, a new network of free shared "white bikes" is set to launch: see WhiteBike.org. Spotted one outside of City Hall this afternoon.

Free bike shares have a notoriously lousy track record, since riders have little incentive to take care of the bikes and they frequently end up getting parked in peoples' backyards. This program will try to avoid these problems by including a combo lock on every bike, with a combination that's published on the web site. I'm still skeptical, but I'll hope against hope and call out any cyclists who seem to have appropriated Portland's commie bikes for their exclusive, private use - hope you'll do the same.

And, if the white bikes have disappeared next month, may I suggest a capitalist solution to bike sharing? Like Paris's Velib or Washington's DC SmartBike?

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