It’s starting to happen already. In economics, a principle called “creative destruction” describes how some entities fail (or are destroyed) to enable new and better ones to take their place. In business, organizations denominated as “social enterprises” are operated with less focus on the profit line and more on the community-benefit component — so as to allow for a more benign context in which to test new concepts, and move the development process forward.
In the past few days we have watched the Montréal-based Bixi bike program enter a form of operation that protects it from creditor claims while its finances are addressed.
Does this mean that bike sharing in Bixi client cities dead? Is the whole concept discredited? Are there no alternatives? No, no, and no. Just the opposite. Some form of creative destruction of Bixi (a social enterprise) is serving to stimulate a multitude of new ideas from, and opportunities for, numerous groups that can step in an take bike sharing to new levels.
Enter City CarShare, a non-profit car-sharing program in the SF Bay Area. They’ve just announced a pre-pilot phase of a new program where participants can have a choice of a rental car, OR E-BIKE.
What an awesome mashup of some of today’s most interesting topics: sustainable urban transportation, social enterprise, public-private partnerships, and electric vehicles. The bicycle is deep in the mix of solving some of the most critical problems of cities, through the monetization of “everyday cycling” — not sport, not recreation, but rather a daily task-based tool equal to (or better than) a car.
Shared bikes (of all stripes) on our streets have suddenly achieved a whole new status, and municipal bike sharing programs need never again all look alike.
An exciting time.