Bicycles for rent
Dockless bicycles for rent in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

By Daniel ‘Danny’ Smiechowski

Our finest city has embarked on a crusade of sorts in populating city streets with a seemingly endless stream of bicycles in a quest for the common good. But no good deed goes unpunished as evidenced by poor planning, little forethought and a rush to judgement. The City of San Diego has unleashed a bike in a china shop.

The modern-day bicycle was invented during the nineteenth century and has one key characteristic — the need for human energy. It’s safe to say most folks barely have the energy to get out of bed in the morning, let alone peddle some heavy, geared bike up a grade larger than nine percent. Let me be perfectly clear that I sincerely wish the greatest success in this pilot program except the jury is out and God knows the long-term viability of these so called dockless bikes.

What about liability issues surrounding errant and dangerous usage on city sidewalks? When I was a kid, sidewalks were for walking. That is why they are called sidewalks. Recently, in my community of Bay Ho, a middle-aged woman sporting a 100,000-watt gullwing smile was barreling downhill in the middle of a sidewalk while I was walking home with groceries. She continued to smile as she almost killed me. I suppose the City Attorney’s Office will be paying some overtime hours. Same scenario in Pacific Beach and everywhere else.

Danny Smiechowski in a triathalon.

Is this another Pet Rock fad, but with wheels? The homeless love the dockless bikes to hang and dry out their clothes as I have seen throughout San Diego. I don’t understand why local bike shops cannot rent two-wheeled transportation and save this city some grief. It would also keep these small businesses in the black and promote a sense of community pride.

Bike San Diego, Circulate San Diego and the city’s Climate Action Plan are all interconnected except the sum does not equal the whole. There is a bike lane in Claremont that is used maybe once every week. Is this what you call efficient use of our tax dollars? Somehow, I don’t see most folks over the age of 50 pedaling away in glee to catch a city bus.

As a candidate for San Diego City Council representing the beach areas, I have grave concerns about this rollout of shared bicycles. And this opinion comes after riding a bike in my district for over fifty years, being a thirty-five-year local triathlete, having a pro-bike voting record on the Clairemont Community Planning Group, and keeping a second home in France where I routinely interview French politicians on alternative transportation.

Maybe we ought to slow down and think more clearly about the future of these dockless bikes.

Daniel ‘Danny” Smiechowski will be a candidate for San Diego City Council in District 2 in June. He is a Clairemont resident, prolific writer on education issues, and former candidate for San Diego Unified School District Board of Education.